British Airways scrapping entire 747 fleet amid coronavirus downturn
Written by Gavin on 17th July 2020
British Airways’ iconic 747 jumbo jet will no longer be operated by the airline after it decided to retire its entire fleet with immediate effect.
BA has used the famous plane since 1989 and is currently the world’s biggest operator of the 747-400 model.
It was planning to retire the fleet of 31 aircraft in 2024 but its end has been hastened by coronavirus which forced long haul air travel to almost grind to a halt.
The decision marks the end of an era for the double-decker jumbo within UK airlines, given that Virgin Atlantic had already announced it was to scrap its remaining 747s.
The company said: “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.”
It was unclear whether the decision would place greater pressure on pilot jobs at the airline.
Sky News revealed earlier this month how their union, BALPA, had reached a deal with BA over proposed job cuts and changes to pay and conditions in the wake of the airline’s warning that 12,000 jobs across the company were at risk.
BA does not foresee 2019 levels of travel demand returning until 2023.
The airline operated the plane, powered to a top speed of 614mph by four Rolls Royce engines, to destinations in China, the US, Canada and Africa.
Figures for June show the increase in air travel following the easing of coronavirus restrictions has been slower than anticipated.
Passenger traffic across European airports last month was down 93% compared with June 2019.
This was an improvement on the 98% year-on-year decline recorded in May, but highlights how far the industry has to go to recover from the pandemic.