Aircraft

British Airways retires its entire fleet of 747s, effective immediately

British Airways retires its en...
British Airways' current fleet of 747-400s consists of 31 aircraft
British Airways' current fleet of 747-400s consists of 31 aircraft
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The 747-400 was the largest passenger aircraft in the world, until that title was taken by the Airbus A380
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The 747-400 was the largest passenger aircraft in the world, until that title was taken by the Airbus A380
British Airways' current fleet of 747-400s consists of 31 aircraft
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British Airways' current fleet of 747-400s consists of 31 aircraft
The current version of the 747-400 seats up to 345 customers in four classes
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The current version of the 747-400 seats up to 345 customers in four classes
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At the best of times, the Boeing 747 is a costly plane to operate and maintain. When a pandemic causes passenger numbers to plummet, however, it can become unsustainable. It was with this in mind that British Airways today announced that it's retiring its entire 747 fleet.

Given that Boeing had previously stated it would be discontinuing the 747, airlines utilizing the aircraft were already planning on phasing it out over a period of several years. According to British Airways, though, due to the "devastating impact" that COVID-19-related travel restrictions have had on the airline industry, the company has now gone ahead and retired its remaining fleet of 31 747-400 aircraft.

Contributing to that decision is the fact that according to some estimates, passenger numbers aren't likely to return to 2019 levels until 2023/24.

The current version of the 747-400 seats up to 345 customers in four classes
The current version of the 747-400 seats up to 345 customers in four classes

The first British Airways (then BOAC) 747 jumbo jet entered use in 1971, with the first 747-400 model taking to the skies in 1989 – at one point, the airline operated 57 of the aircraft. It took delivery of its final one in 1999. More recently, though, the company began focusing on more fuel-efficient alternatives such as the Boeing 787 and Airbus A350. That said, the retirement of the 747 was never intended to take place so soon – or so abruptly.

"This is not how we wanted or expected to have to say goodbye to our incredible fleet of 747 aircraft," says British Airways chairman and CEO, Alex Cruz. "It is a heart-breaking decision to have to make. So many people, including many thousands of our colleagues past and present, have spent countless hours on and with these wonderful planes."

The airline's fleet of the jumbo jets is now grounded at various locations in the UK.

Source: British Airways

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10 comments
Nobody
I remember riding in a 747 back in 1972. The seats were roomy and the lounge on the upper level gave us a place to go and stretch our legs. It was nothing like the packed sardine cans we fly in now.
guzmanchinky
I think we can consider this model a slight success at this point... :)
paul314
What happens to them now? Scrap aluminum? The nostalgia market? Theme restaurants? I could totally want a house built into the front quarter of a 747 shell...
yu
aww crxp! i was saving for a bucket list, 1st class flight on the Queen of the Skies. Well there are still a few others flying.
McDesign
Once, returning from France in business class on Delta, I had enough points for a class upgrade. Air France code shares with Delta, and they had 747s, while Delta did not. So I enjoyed the heck out of my one flight on the top deck of a 747.
Kevin Ritchey
Seems we had something that was comfortable and could stay in the air. Let's get rid of that!
jocco
I did a small job on the first landing strut in the '60s.
Buggadad
The 747 was originally intended to serve until the SST was available, then most would have a second life as a cargo plane. That is why the cockpit is situated as it is, allowing for a very large cargo capacity. After a phenomenal run, perhaps some of these terrific aircraft will have the purpose Boeing always intended them to by this point in time.
Charles Gibilterra
Many years since the 747 was introduced. Still in the stream of time, taking into account the incredible amount of engineering design went into its production, seems such a wast that its now headed to the scrap yard to join the many other planes already there. Yet science~technology makes for obsolescence, that we save the planet, ourselves, in these troubling times. Thanks for the memories~~~
HAL
Well, the President and his staff will still be flying 747s for the foreseeable future.