British Airways will see its final Boeing 747 departures from Heathrow on Thursday. The departure of the two aircraft will bring to an end an era spanning half a century. The departure will be weather dependant, and as such, could be delayed until a later date.
For half a century, the Boeing 747 has been a significant player in the British Airways fleet. Since the retirement of the Concorde, it has gone on to become the airline’s flagship. However, the Queen of the Sky’s reign must now come to an end, as it hands the baton on to the Airbus A350.
Final Heathrow departure
For half a century, the Boeing 747 landed at Heathrow Airport, first in BOAC colors, then later in various British Airways liveries. Now, just two 747s remain at Heathrow, G-CIVB, and G-CIVY. G-CIVB will be well known to regular readers, as it proudly wears the airline’s retro Negus livery.
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British Airways is yet to reveal a time for the Boeing 747’s departure, as the fine details are still being decided. The airline has also warned that plans could be subject to change due to adverse weather. This has delayed the airline’s final 747 departures in the past.
No grand goodbye
While British Airways has said goodbye to several aircraft types over the years, such as the Boeing 767 in 2018, none will have been as high profile since the retirement of Concorde in 2003. This saw British Airways host huge celebrations to say farewell to the fleet before they were all shipped to museums worldwide.
Unfortunately, the Boeing 747 fleet won’t be able to benefit from such a celebration. Due to the ongoing pandemic that has led to the early retirement of the fleet, the aircraft’s send-off will be very low-key, with no grand farewell planned. This won’t be the final British Airways 747 retirement. The airline still has a handful of jumbo jets at its Cardiff heavy maintenance base.
A new era
British Airways is in the process of moving towards a much greener fleet of new, more fuel-efficient aircraft as the world’s aviation industry places increasing importance on sustainability. The airline is currently taking delivery of new twin-engine aircraft such as the Boeing 787-10 and Airbus A350.
The airline will be left with 12 four-engined aircraft following the retirement of the Boeing 747. These will be the Airbus A380s that are currently being stored in Chateauroux, France. The next new aircraft type to join the British Airways fleet will be the Boeing 777X. While deliveries should commence in 2022, it is unclear if these will be pushed back due to delays on Boeing’s end.
What’s your favorite memory of the British Airways Boeing 747? Let us know what you think and why in the comments.