Farewell: British Airways Announces Immediate Retirement Of It’s Entire 747 Jumbo Fleet

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Today, the same day as Qantas has their last 747 farewell flight yet another airline – British Airways – has announced it’s decision to retire all of their jumbo jets effective immediately.

The “Queen of the Skies” will have it’s final hurray for British Airways but the airline is yet to announce if there will be a farewell flight for the 747 like the other airlines did.

Airlines around the world are phasing out the beautiful jet and replacing it with the now more popular twin engine models such as the Boeing 777, 787 Dreamliner or the Airbus models A330/A350.

Today, Qantas has their last commercial passenger flight operated by a Boeing 747 and Singapore Airlines already did so in 2012. The list goes on.

You can read more about the retirement of BA’s 747 in this news report by the BBC:

The UK airline is the world’s largest operator of the jumbo jets, with 31 in the fleet.

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

Airlines across the world have been hit hard by coronavirus-related travel restrictions.

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

BA, which is owned by International Airlines Group (IAG), said the planes will all be retired with immediate effect. The 747s represent about 10% of BA’s total fleet.

It had planned on retiring the planes in 2024 but has brought forward the date due to the downturn.

BA is currently the world’s biggest operator of 747-400s and first took delivery of them in July 1989. Originally, the upper deck contained a lounge which was known as the “club in the sky”.

Let’s hope and pray that BA will at least let the four engines roar one more time on a farewell flight!

A total of 31 747’s is quite a lot and let’s not forget BA also wants to retire their A380s as well. That’s quite a lot of capacity cut and even though British Airways has new planes on order this is a sign that the airline is going to shrink, at least in the near future. This also means that the demand for staff, in particular cabin crew will be reduced further.

These 747 were on schedule to be retired anyway so the current situation has just moved that even up in the calendar. It will allow BA to save money their “gaz guzzling” older 747 and the costly D-checks that these old birds inevitably had coming up (depending on the plane of course).

Conclusion

Even though some airlines (such as Lufthansa) ordered the redesigned more fuel efficient Boeing 747-8, not many of these were sold and we previously wrote about Boeing ending the 747 program altogether as the sales numbers have been flat.

Airlines that still operate a good number of 747 passenger aircraft include Lufthansa and Korean Air alongside others plus of course cargo planes. As it’s scheduled right now I’m actually due to fly on a Lufthansa 747-800 in a few weeks.

Thinking back on how Singapore Airlines celebrated the last ride of their 747… that was a real party! Cathay had a little celebratory stuff going on during their last Hong Kong – Haneda – Hong Kong flights which was also quite fun. United flew it’s last 747 in late 2017 and Qantas also gave their passengers and “The Queen” a worthwhile goodbye this week

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