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Amidst the Coronavirus pandemic, British Airways has decided the time is up for their fleet of Boeing 747 aircraft.
At the beginning of the pandemic, British Airways said that they would only be retiring five of their 31 Boeing 747-400 aircraft. However, on 16th July the carrier announced that none of its 747 fleet would be returning to the sky.
In a statement released to Travel Radar, British Airways stated:
It is with great sadness that we can confirm we are proposing to retire our entire 747 fleet with immediate effect.
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.
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.

Staff wave off BA’s Dreamflight 2015 | (C) Jack Terry-British Airways

Will many jobs be at risk?

Unfortunately, this announcement will result in several positions being made redundant. British Airways announced in April that around 12,000 jobs would be cut. Travel Radar also reported in June that BA intended to cut pilot numbers from 4,300 to approximately 3,100.

A specially decorated British Airways 747 took to the sky with the Red Arrows at the Royal International Air Tattoo | (C) Nick Morrish – British Airways

As the Boeing 747 era comes to an end, here are some interesting facts about British Airways “Queen of The Skies’ fleet:

• BA took delivery of its first 747-400 in July 1989.
• BA took delivery of its last 747-400 in April 1999.
• At its height, BA had a fleet of 57 747-400s, the second-biggest operator in the world of this type of aircraft.  (Japan Air Lines had more than 100 in its fleet).
• BA is currently the world’s biggest operator of 747-400s.
• The original aircraft accommodated 27 First and 292 Economy passengers.
• Initially, the upper deck contained a lounge, with lounge chair seating. It was known as the ‘club in the sky’.
• In 2020, BA owns 31 747s. The last was originally due to retire in 2024.
• The average age per aircraft is 23 years old.
• The 747-400 has 6ft high winglets on the tips of its wings to improve efficiency.
• It has 16 main wheels and two landing nose wheels.
• The wings of a 747-400 span 213ft and are big enough to accommodate 50 parked cars.
• The tail height of 64ft is equivalent to a six-storey building.
• The 747-400 is 231ft long.
Will you be sad to see the 747 fleet retire? What is your favourite memory from flying on one of these fantastic aircraft? Let us know in the comments.

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