British Airways retires entire 747 fleet after travel downturn

Boeing 747-400 of British Airways, the large jumbo jet with the nickname Queen of the skies

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British Airways has said it will withdraw all its Boeing 747s due to the travel’s severe recession.

The British airline is the world’s largest jumbo jet operator, with 31 in the fleet.

“It is with great sadness that we can confirm that we are proposing to withdraw our entire 747 fleet with immediate effect,” a BA spokesman told BBC.

Airlines around the world have been hit hard by travel restrictions related to coronavirus.

“It is unlikely that our magnificent” queen of the skies “will ever run commercial services for British Airways again due to the drop in travel caused by the global Covid-19 pandemic,” added the spokesman.

BA, owned by the International Airlines Group (IAG), said the planes will be withdrawn with immediate effect. The 747s represent approximately 10% of the total BA fleet.

He had planned to withdraw the planes in 2024, but has brought forward the date due to the recession.

A luxury BA could no longer afford

The Boeing 747 is beautiful, distinctive and has half a century of proud service behind it. But – at least as a passenger plane – it is also simply out of date.

A four-engine plane is much less efficient than modern twin-engine models, such as the Airbus A350, the 787 Dreamliner or even the old Boeing 777, which are all cheaper to manage.

Before the Covid-19 crisis, the writing was on the wall. Airlines such as Air France, Delta and United had already withdrawn their fleets.

BA had planned to use them for other years. But the industry crisis means a future where there will be fewer passengers, fewer planes – and cutting costs will be crucial.

So now the airline has decided that the Queen of Heaven is a luxury she can no longer afford.

British Airways’ predecessor BOAC started flying 747 in the early 1970s. BA is currently piloting the 747-400 version of the long-haul aircraft.

It is currently the world’s largest operator of 747-400 and took its first delivery in July 1989. Initially, the upper deck contained a room that was known as “the club in the sky”.

The British airline added that it would operate more flights on modern and more fuel efficient planes, such as its new Airbus A350 and Boeing 787 Dreamliners.

He is expected to help them achieve zero net carbon emissions by 2050.

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Caption of the image

The first Boeing 747 operated by BOAC arrives at London Heathrow Airport in May 1970.

Boeing’s 747 helped democratize global air travel in the 1970s and marked its 50th flight anniversary in February 2019.

U.S.-based Boeing marked the end of aircraft production a year ago.

A wave of restructuring triggered by the virus outbreak is hitting airlines around the world, along with aircraft manufacturers and their suppliers. Thousands of job losses and thefts have been announced in the past few weeks.

Hundreds of BA ground crews face redundancy as the airline cuts costs following the coronavirus pandemic.

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Caption of the image

BOAC captain Douglas Redrup stays with his flight crew members before taking off on the first scheduled flight.

Boeing’s “queen of the skies”

  • The first Boeing 747 flight took place in February 1969
  • It was the first plane nicknamed a “jumbo jet”
  • BOAC, the predecessor of British Airways, operated its first flight 747, flying from London to New York in 1971
  • At its peak, BA had a fleet of 57 747-400, second only to Japan Airlines (more than 100)
  • The wings of a 747-400 extend over 213 feet and are large enough to accommodate 50 parked cars

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