British Airways is now without any Boeing 747 aircraft following the retirement of its final Queen earlier today. In the airline’s retro BOAC livery, the aircraft completed a short flight from the carrier’s Cardiff heavy maintenance base to St Athan, just down the road.
The Boeing 747 has a long history with British Airways and many other airlines worldwide. With the notable exception of Lufthansa, many carriers have grounded their fleets, if not retired them, as a result of the current situation. This has meant that, with the retirement of G-BYGC, only one British 747 will fly again. This is Virgin’s G-VROY, due to fly to Atlas Air on Wednesday.
One final flight for the Queen of the Skies
British Airways had been using generic ferry flight numbers for its 747 retirement flights. These typically start with the number 9. To mark the special occasion of its last ever 747 flight, British Airways gave the flight a special number, BA747.
Stay informed: Sign up for our daily aviation news digest.
The aircraft took off from Cardiff at 13:37, passing by its new home just a minute later. It wasn’t able to land straight away, though. Instead, the jumbo jet flew in a loop over the Bristol Channel, reaching a maximum height of 5,800 feet, according to data from FlightRadar24.com. After this, it began its descent into St Athan, landing at 13:54, bringing an end to 50 years of history.
What’s next for the plane?
Typically, the one-way trip for a Boeing 747 to St Athan means that the aircraft will be dismantled. However, this is not the case for British Airways’ Boeing 747 in the retro BOAC livery. Having arrived at St Athan, also known as Bro Tathan, the aircraft will be placed in eCube Solutions’ care, who is used to tearing apart the airline’s jumbo jets.
The aircraft will remain in its BOAC livery and become a permanent reminder of the plane that was a part of British Airways for 50 out of its 100 years of flying. The BOAC livery is particularly notable on the 747, as it was the livery worn by the airline’s first jumbo jets, the 747-100. Unsurprisingly, these were first operated by BOAC, then later transferred to British Airways when the airline merged with BEA.
British Airways had planned to phase the Boeing 747 out gradually, with the last aircraft due to leave in four years. This was so that their capacity would be replaced by new aircraft. As the airline does not need to use the capacity in the coming years, they are going now. In the future, the 747s will be replaced with the airline’s 777X order. In the meantime, the Boeing 777 and 787 will provide British Airways’ widebody capacity, alongside the Airbus A350.
How will you remember the British Airways Boeing 747? Let us know what you think in the comment section!