End of an era as British Airways retires its last Boeing 747s

Another airline ditches the jumbo in a sad farewell for what was once among the world's largest Boeing 747 fleet.

By Bloomberg News, October 9 2020
End of an era as British Airways retires its last Boeing 747s

British Airways has retired its last two Boeing 747 airliners, marking the end of the line for one of the largest fleets of the iconic jumbos.

The planes took off from BA's London Heathrow hub on Thursday, with their departure live-streamed for aviation enthusiasts and the generations of long-haul travelers who have flown on the hump-backed behemoths.

British Airways has retired the last of its Boeing 747s.
British Airways has retired the last of its Boeing 747s.

Airlines across the globe have been phasing out older, thirstier aircraft models as they battle to cut costs in the face of the demand slump triggered by the coronavirus pandemic.

While hundreds of four-engine 747s were retired well before the crisis, BA had largely held on to its planes to maximize passenger numbers at capacity-constrained Heathrow.

In a nod to plane geeks everywhere, the 747-400s departed with the flight numbers BA747 and BA400.

British Airways has retired the last of its Boeing 747s.
British Airways has retired the last of its Boeing 747s.

One of the jumbos, 22-year-old G-CIVY, flew for 51 minutes to BA's maintenance depot in St Athan, Wales, and faces being scrapped. The other, 26-year-old G-CIVB, took the even shorter trip to an aircraft boneyard at Kemble in England's Cotswold hills, though won't immediately be broken up.

BA's rival Virgin Atlantic retired its own Boeing 747s "with immediate effect" in May 2020.

Qantas dispatched its last 747 in July, after holding a series of scenic joy flights, and has since sold fully-stocked drinks carts for $1,000 after stripping them from grounded jets.

Qantas managed to give the Queen of the Skies as proper send-off.
Qantas managed to give the Queen of the Skies as proper send-off.

Read more: Final call as Qantas farewells the iconic Boeing 747 jumbo jet

British Airways had the largest fleet of 747-400s, with 28 planes as of July, all of them grounded.

Lufthansa still has 14 of what  CEO Carsten Spohr described as "fairly aged 747-400s, which we will be retiring over the course of the middle of this decade," leaving the larger and more modern 747-8 as its flagship in the post-A380 era.

The Boeing 747-8 will become Lufthansa's new flagship.
The Boeing 747-8 will become Lufthansa's new flagship.

All told there are now only 35 Boeing 747s in passenger service and a further 122 in storage, according to aviation data provider Cirium.

The model is now predominantly a cargo plane, with 298 in service carrying freight. Boeing has said it will cease production of the latest model – the stretched 747-8 – in 2022.

Boeing will cease production of the 747 in 2022.
Boeing will cease production of the 747 in 2022.

Also read: The Qantas Boeing 747 – looking back on a half-century of flying

Additional reporting by David Flynn

This article is published under license from Bloomberg Media: the original article can be viewed here

09 Nov 2018

Total posts 3

Fantastic news, flew on a BA 747 a few years ago in economy and marveled at the 90s interior and entertainment system - they were due for the scrap heap at least a decade ago. At least they kept the gins flowing!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Mar 2014

Total posts 155

BA actually refurbed the 747s recently, and even the economy product wasnt too bad.

I for one will miss the 747s.  

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

15 Aug 2014

Total posts 25

You should tell them to sell off their bar carts.....I love mine 

19 Aug 2017

Total posts 11

I got a 747 Heathrow to LA return in Jan this year, and it was quite enjoyable, although they are noisy compared with the a350's/787's etc.

was refurbished business class, rather than the old versions.

Great feeling to have had that opportunity given now that it is difficult to find many carriers flying the 747's at all

23 Jul 2017

Total posts 66

I'm another who watched the last BA Queens fly off into the grey London skies. Even those skies were crying at their departure.


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