British Airways announced on July 17th 2020 it was ending the operations of its iconic Boeing 747 fleet beginning immediately. The airline had been the world’s largest operator of the Boeing 747-400 with 31 aircraft remaining in operation prior to today’s news. British Airways 747-400 fleet offered passengers three different seating arrangements: a four-class configuration seating 275, another seating 299 and another one seating 345.
Making refrence to the four-engined aircraft as a fuel-hungry aircraft, the airline official announcement cited the crippling effects of the COVID19 pandemy on an entire industry left with little chances of recovering to pre-COVID19 levels until the year 2023.
The airline which in recent years has invested heavily in a more fuel efficient fleet relying on Boeing 787 and Airbus A350 is also demonstrating full commitment to achieving its net zero carbon emissions target set to the year 2050.
The airline first flew the Boeing 747 on the London to New York route on April 14th 1971 with the first Boeing 747-100 series. The 747-400 variant (which is retiring today) began fleet service in July 1989. Having owned 19 Boeing 747-100 followed later by 25 Boeing 747-200, British Airways became the largest 747 operator in the world under the 747-400 variant by operating up to 57 aircraft at some point. The carrier which had received Boeing customer code 36 designating its 747-400 as 747-436, was a also a proud operator of Rolls Royce engines with the RB 211-524Gs powering the entire fleet.
The carrier had in recent months initiated a gradual phase allowing the 747 fleet to shrink to today’s 31 aircraft. Today’s decision terminates a process which would otherwise have allowed the aircraft to remain in operation until the year 2024.