Around half of the British Airways Boeing 747 fleet remaining at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic has now been retired. Both British airlines operating the Queen of the Skies have retired the type early due to the current pandemic.
The Boeing 747 is an aircraft loved by many. It is instantly recognizable thanks to its signature hump. Indeed, the type has become as synonymous with British Airways as the iconic Concorde. For 50 of the airline’s 100-year history, the jumbo jet has made up a part of the British Airways fleet. However, all good things must come to an end. As a result of the current pandemic, many airlines have been retiring older (and some younger) four-engined giants.
Half of the fleet gone
When British Airways made the call to retire its fleet of Boeing 747 aircraft, there were still 31 airframes of the type on the airline’s books. Since then, around half of the fleet has been retired. Very early on, the airline sent five of its Jumbos to a Spanish aircraft graveyard named Teruel. While these five haven’t been included in British Airways’ official retirement tally yet, we have included them in this figure as they’re unlikely to fly again.
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12 final flights
Since British Airways announced it would be retiring its fleet of Boeing 747s, 12 aircraft have undertaken their final flights. This started with G-CIVD on August 18th. One more plane left the fleet in August, G-BYGF.
That means that nine more aircraft have been dispatched in September. G-CIVV will become the tenth when it departs Wales’ Cardiff Airport at 11:00 this morning. Unfortunately, the future doesn’t look too rosy for the retired airframes. There were rumors that another airline would take a number of the airline’s aircraft. However, these were later denied by the airline.
So far, aircraft have been flying to aircraft graveyards to be scrapped. While a number have been flown to Kemble and St Athan, a few have been flown to Castellon Airport in Spain.
What about the retro jets?
2019 was indeed the year of the British Airways Boeing 747. In its centenary year, the airline dressed four aircraft in retro liveries. While one A320 got the BEA treatment, three liveries were applied to the Boeing 747 fleet.
G-BYGC was the first Boeing 747 to receive the retrojet treatment. This aircraft was adorned with the BOAC livery, initially worn by the airline’s first 747-100s. Next up came the Landor livery on G-BNLY. This livery was unique in that it was the only one previously worn by the aircraft that it was applied to.
Finally, G-CIVB was treated to the Negus livery, becoming the final retrojet to be delivered. So far, none of these three aircraft have been retired. All of the British Airways Concorde aircraft were sent to museums around the world. Unfortunately, such a fate is looking more and more unlikely for even one of British Airways’ 747s. However, final plans are yet to be confirmed by the British flag carrier.
Have you seen one of British Airways’ 747s during its final flight? Let us know your experience in the comments!