History was made today, as British Airways bid farewell to the Queen of the Skies, the Boeing 747. For the past 50 years, the carrier’s fleet of jumbo jets has been a regular sight at London’s Heathrow Airport, flying passengers worldwide. While already due to be retired by 2024, the pandemic proved to be the final nail in the coffin for the type.
Double Heathrow departure canceled
The airline had planned an extraordinary event to mark the farewell. This would’ve seen the two Boeing 747s departing side by side from the airport’s parallel runways. However, it seemed as though the weather wouldn’t play ball this morning. As a result, the planned double departure was sadly canceled.
Both aircraft departed from Runway 27R, with G-CIVB leading the way, followed by G-CIVY. The aircraft departed with the flight numbers BA747 and BA400, reflecting the aircraft type: Boeing 747-400.
A straight-out Kemble departure
G-CIVB is a unique aircraft for British Airways. As part of the airline’s 100th-anniversary celebrations last year, it was repainted into a special retro livery. The Negus livery was worn by British Airways aircraft after BOAC merged with BEA in 1974.
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Now that G-CIVB has departed Heathrow for the final time, it will fly to Kemble in Gloucestershire. While most 747s flying to Kemble are being scrapped, it is believed that plans to preserve this aircraft are being examined. The departure of this Boeing 747 was most dependant on weather as Cotswold Airport relies on a visual approach. G-CIVB departed with the flight number BA400.
One last goodbye before St Athan
While G-CIVB departed straight out from London Heathrow, G-CIVY wasn’t quite ready to say goodbye just yet. Following her departure, she will circle back around to London Heathrow. The aircraft will then complete a low pass of the airport above Runway 27L before flying off into the skies.
G-CIVY will fly to St Athan in Wales, where she will, sadly, be scrapped. However, she won’t be alone as many other British Airways planes, including the airline’s last original 777s, have also flown to the facility to be disposed of. G-CIVY departed with the flight number BA747.
Updated 0900 UTC 08/10/2020:
Flypast not canceled
Thankfully the good old British weather didn’t call off the final flypast of G-CIVY. As such, the Queen of the skies could complete one last flight over the airport that the type has called home for 50-years. This also allowed the aircraft to fly past Concorde one final time.
G-CIVY will now continue its flight to St Athan to be dismantled. A handful of British Airways Boeing 747s remains at the airline’s Cardiff heavy maintenance base, meaning a few more low-key flights are planned for the type.
Did you watch the proceedings this morning? What did you think? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!