British Airways retires its Boeing 747-400 jumbo jets immediately

Cornelia Mascio
Luglio 19, 2020

Click to read all about coronavirus →. "With much regret, we are proposing, subject to consultation, the immediate retirement of our Queen of the Skies, the 747-400", the company said in a memo to staff reported by airlinegeeks.

After spending almost a billion dollars to freshen up its fleet of Boeing 747s, British Airways has announced they will likely never fly in revenue service again for the historic airline.

BA, which is owned by International Airlines Group (IAG), said the planes will all be retired with immediate effect. "We know how many memories of this extra-special aircraft are shared across the BA family and our proposal to retire the fleet early has only been taken in response to the crisis we find ourselves in".

The first Boeing 747 flight took place in February 1969 It was the first aeroplane dubbed a "jumbo jet" BOAC, British Airways' predecessor, operated its first 747 flight, flying from London to NY, in 1971 Fastest operating commercial plane, with a top speed of just over 650mph 3.5 billion passengers transported in 50 years First plane to fly London to Sydney non-stop in 1989.

It had planned on retiring the planes in 2024 but has brought forward the date due to the downturn. According to travel data firm Cirium there are about 500 747s still in service, of which 30 are actively flying passengers. More than 300 fly cargo and the remainder are in storage.

But the pandemic, which has seen most of the world's planes grounded for the best part of three months, has hastened its journey into retirement, especially as forecasters predict that passenger numbers will remain lower than normal, potentially for years to come.

A four-engine aircraft, it is far less efficient than modern twin-engine models, such as the Airbus A350, the 787 Dreamliner, or even the older Boeing 777 - all of which are cheaper to run.

KLM recently retired its 747 fleet and other airlines have already ended 747 service in favor of long-range twins that cost a lot less to operate. Other than the German flag carrier, a few other carriers, such as Thai Airways, Air China and Korean Air have now stated that they will keep their 747 fleets.

So now the airline has decided the queen of the skies is a luxury it can no longer afford.

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