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Lion Air: The Low Cost Airline that Operated the 747

Lion Air, an Indonesian low cost airline used to operate the Boeing 747-400 until they were retired and sold in 2017. The jumbo jet was a regular sight at many airports across Indonesia and in Saudi Arabia. The airline operated only two of the double decker aircraft, which were under the registration of PK-LHG and PK-LHF and were acquired from Singapore Airlines in 2009. The two aircraft arrived six months apart and would serve their lifespan of 30 years.

Before Lion Air

One of the two jets that have been sold to Lion Air in 2009 spent a long time with Singapore Airlines, staying with the Singaporean flag carrier until 2004. The second was leased for three years in 1994 by Air China before being returned. After return of both aircraft to Singapore Airines, they have been sold to Air Atlanta Icelandic, where they have been leased to Iberia and Hong Kong carrier Oasis Airlines. In 2008, the jets have been sold to the Boeing Aircraft Holding Company. Despite their name, Boeing Aircraft Holding Company was an important customer of the Airbus A340!

The Cabin

Photo credit: ikhwanhidayat on Youtube

The Lion Air 747s had two sections. A business and an economy class section. Ever since the aircraft have been purchased from Singapore Airlines, their cabin had never been retrofitted. The economy seats had a 2-4-2 configuration. These seats were still in the Singapore Airlines purple and blue colour scheme along with a tray table and an IFE screen. Although the screens were there, they were inoperable as Lion Air had no inflight entertainment. Business class seats still had the old red leather seats from SQ on it. The configuration was 2-2, leaving the middle row and aisle instead. The carpet also had not been replaced since the purchase making the cabin look old and dirty.

Services of Lion Air

As mentioned in the introduction, the two jumbos were used to carry muslims on pilgrimage flights to Mecca, Jeddah and other Saudi Arabian destinations. Not only did they fly long haul to the middle east but also had high demand to Indonesian destinations like Medan, Batam, Surabaya, Denpasar, and Makassar. At various points in their lives with Lion Air, they have been leased to the Saudi Arabia based carriers Flynas and Nas Air. “The airline was proud to operate the plane dubbed ‘Queen of the Skies’ for the last 10 years to serve domestic commercial flights,” said a Lion Air spokesman during the retirement ceremony. Lion Air and Garuda Indonesia were the only 747 operators in Indonesia.


Cover photo credit: Lion Air

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