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Online special: Two Boeing 747 jumbo jets sold on Alibaba auction site

Key Points
  • A pair of used Boeing 747-400s were sold on an Alibaba-owned auction website.
  • The two planes fetched more than $48 million from winning bidder SF Express.
  • A third plane went unsold due to only one buyer registering to bid.
One of the Boeing 747-400 aircraft sold on Alibaba-owned website Taobao.

Two Boeing 747-400s sold on an Alibaba-owned e-commerce website for $48 million, making the pair of jumbo jets the highest-value sale ever for Taobao.

The two "Queens of the Sky" were from a bankrupt cargo company, Jade Cargo International, and sold to Chinese logistics company SF Express, according to the listing. The Intermediate People's Court of Shenzhen City had attempted six previous offline auctions, BBC reported, before putting the planes up on Taobao.

The bids on one of the planes opened Monday at 135 million yuan, with 27 bids placed before the final sale of just over 162 million yuan, or about $25 million.

A third plane went unsold due to only one buyer registering to bid, Chinese news agency Xinhua reported.

The bids still are not the highest-ever sale on an online auction site, according to BBC. The No. 1 sale remains a superyacht that went for $85 million on eBay in 2006.

Alibaba, eBay and Boeing did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The sales represent the next chapter in the 747's long history, as the jumbo jets face retirement among passenger carriers, though they are still used as air freighters. Earlier this month, United Airlines retired the 747 from its fleet with a final flight to Hawaii. Delta Air Lines, now the last U.S. carrier operating the plane, plans to offer its last commercial flights aboard its 747s at the end of the year.

— CNBC's Leslie Josephs contributed to this report.