Amid the pandemic, British Airway is retiring it’s most iconic aircraft Boeing 747 completely from its fleet.
In a letter to the employees, the airline wrote that British Airways distinctive plane as it calls “our Queen of the Skies” will not fly passengers again.
The letter says, “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.”
This jumbo jet has been in the airline fleet since 1971 and it was flying from its Heathrow airport base. However, British Airways was the world’s biggest operator of this type of aircraft before the pandemic.
The airline was using this aircraft for key destinations. It was using it for traveling to US routes, such as Boston, Miami, New York JFK, and San Francisco. As well as Beijing, Cape Town, Mexico City, and Toronto.
British Airways Largest Operator
However, being the world’s largest operator of this type of aircraft. It had 32 planes in its fleet before aviation went into its deepest crisis in history.
However, the airline plans to keep this aircraft in its fleet until 2024. It was flying from London Heathrow to New York JFK which was one of the most profitable routes. Its much-refreshed cabins were popular with premium passengers for this route.
A special “Hi-J” version with 86 business-class seats reduced the passenger payload to just 275, compared with 455 aboard the same plane on Virgin Atlantic.
However, Virgin Atlantic already plans to not fly again its smaller fleet of Jumbo jets.
The Boeing 747 was the world’s prime people-mover for half a century. Before the launch of the Airbus A380 in 2007, it was by far the biggest passenger plane, 232 feet long with a wingspan of 211 feet, and a height of 69 feet.
British Airways says: “The 747 fleet has flown 3.5 billion people – the equivalent of half of the world’s population.
The letter, written in response to “speculation on social media and aviation websites” says, “The whole airline community is reconciling itself to a bleak outlook for passenger demand.”
“Long haul travel will take years to recover, with the major industry bodies agreeing that we will not see a return to 2019 levels until 2023 at the soonest.”
“The bulk of our fleet is large, with wide-body, long haul aircraft with many premium seats. It intends to carry high volumes of customers.”
The plane faces increasing environmental penalties, with Heathrow airport seeking “to phase out aging fleet types such as 747”.
The airline has grounded some of its 747s aircrafts currently at Heathrow. While the airline is storing others at Cardiff airport and Teruel in central Spain.
BA’s main long-haul aircraft is now the Boeing 777, though it also has Airbus A350 and A380 jets.