Another chapter nears an end for the storied Boeing program, as British Airways prepares to retire its 747 fleet. But three words still give me hope…
British Airways Will Retire Its 28-Aircraft 747 Fleet
British Airways is the largest commercial operator of the Boeing 747 in the world. With 28 aircraft in its fleet, it operates more 747 aircraft, all of the 747-400 variant, than any other commercial airline.
AirlineGeeks notes an internal memo from British Airways states that entire 747 fleet will be retired immediately, “subject to consultation.”
“With much regret, we are proposing, subject to consultation, the immediate retirement of our Queen of the Skies, the 747-400. We know there is speculation on social media and aviation websites, so we wanted to make our position clear.”
British Airways’ 747 fleet has already been parked for months. The carrier planned to retire the fleet by 2024 so this news simply accelerates the process.
Why the 747? The memo blames tepid demand and the relative lack of fuel efficiency of a four-engine jet. 747s, some of which are now 30 years old, also require more maintenance than newer aircraft.
“Subject To Consultation”
Three words give me some hope that this fleet retirement will not be as sudden as, say, Air France’s decision to retire the A380. While British Airways called it decision to retire the 747 fleet “immediate,” it at least leaves open the door that it may stick around a bit longer with a caveat that the retirement is “subject to consultation.”
Air France offered employees a farewell ride on the A380, but I am hopeful that British Airways might offer several final passenger flights aboard its 747, which it calls the flagship of its fleet.
“The unofficial flagship of our fleet, the 747-400 has a very special place in the hearts of aviation enthusiasts and of many of us. 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.”
British Airways recently spent millions to update the interiors of its 747s and also painted four aircraft with retro livery to celebrate BA’s centennial.
> Read More: British Airways Honors 747 Legacy With Retro Livery
In the big picture, it is clear why British Airways has chosen to accelerate the retirement of its 747 fleet:
“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.”
But what a sad, sad day. The Queen of the Skies is a lovely aircraft and I had greatly looked forward to flying it again on British Airways.
Will you miss the British Airways 747?
> Read More: British Airways 747 First Class Review
> Read More: British Airways 747 World Traveller Plus (Premium Economy) Review
image: British Airways