July 16, 2020 / In a letter to the staff, British Airways (BA) announced today the retirement with immediate effects of its fleet of 31 Boeing 747-400s, as a consequence of the downturn in travel demand caused by the Covid pandemic. Original plans by the British flag carrier called for a retirement of the last 747 in 2024.
“It is unlikely that any of our Boeing 747-400 will ever return to fly” reports the site businesstraveller.com, citing a statement from the airline, which added: “While the aircraft will always have a special place in our heart, as we head into the future we will be operating more flights on modern, fuel-efficient aircraft such as our new A350s and 787s, to help us achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050”.
British Airways was one of the first operators of the type when it accepted the first 747-400 in July 1989 and during the following ten years ending in April 1999 it received a total of 47 aircraft. Previously, BA had operated two more versions of the Jumbo: the -100 and -200 series, for a total of over 100 specimens of the Queen of the Skies, as the airplane is also called. Last year, it painted three of its 747-400 in special, vintage liveries, to celebrate its 100th birthday.
The announce from British Airways follows those by KLM (KL) and Qantas (QF), which recently decided to retire their 747 fleets before than planned as a consequence of the lack of demand following the Covid crisis. And leaves German flag carrier Lufthansa (LH) with the honour of being the only passenger Boeing 747-400 operator worldwide. The latter has not made any announcement regarding the future of its fleet of 9 Boeing 747-400, but should it follow BA, KL and QF, it would remain a 747 operator anyway, having a 19-strong fleet of new 747-8. (Photo British Airways)