British Airways’ Boeing 747 made its final touchdown

Boeing 747-400 in British Airways livery (Source: British Airways)

British Airways joins the club of former Boeing 747 airlines. A club welcomed many new members such as KLM, Qantas and partly also Lufthansa. The UK’s national airline says its sad to see the ‘Queen of the Skies’ go, but sees no other way due to the COVID-19 crisis.

Queen of the Skies

The Boeing 747, better known as the ‘Queen of the Skies’ by aviation aficionados, flew for nearly five decades at British Airways. Just last year, BA repainted a 747 in celebration of the airline’s centenary. The ‘BOAC‘ (British Overseas Airways Corporation) livery then flew with the British Red Arrows at the Royal International Air Tattoo. Now, the aircraft will shortly be heading towards its final resting place alongside 30 others.

At its height, the airline had a fleet of 57 747-400s. It started flying the 747 in April 1971. The last 747 was delivered to British Airways in 1999. 2020 markt the year of BA’s final commercial 747 flight.

A British Airways special liveried Boeing 747 takes to the skies alongside the Red Arrows during the 2019 Royal International Air Tattoo on July 20, 2019 (source: Ian Gavan/Getty Images/British Airways)

COVID-19

The earlier than planned phase out of the BA Boeing 747 is not very surprising. In current market conditions, highly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, demand for air travel has plummeted. Airlines simply don’t need big aircraft now. Next to that, as BA puts it themselves, the fuel-hungry planes needed to be replaced in the coming years anyway.

Boeing 747 in British Airways taxiing during sunset (Source: British Airways)

Fleet renewal

Airlines are currently not in need of new aircraft, certainly not in the short term. However, British Airways will continue its fleet renewal program. It has for instance invested in the new Airbus A350 and Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Both aircraft are much more efficient and offer more 21st century comfort to passengers. Next to that, the airline invests in updating its cabin. For instance by implemented in its new business class Club Suite product on all long haul aircraft.

British Airways’ new Club Suite business class product (Source: British Airways)