For some flyers, there is a sense of nostalgia when it comes to the Queen of the Skies – the Boeing 747-400.
Sadly the British Airways is now moving to halt flying of the Boeing 747-400 with immediate effect.
The move will end nearly 50 years of flying of the Boeing 747 with the airline, who started flying the type under BOAC, through to the current incarnation of British Airways. Historically, the airline operated the Boeing 747-100, Boeing 747-200 and the Boeing 747-400, operating at peak 60 aircraft.
The airline recently celebrated their 100th anniversary, by painting three of these aircraft in past liveries
The remaining fleet of 30 aircraft was due to be drawn down over the next four years – with the family being withdrawn by 2024.
Sadly, with passenger demand still in the dumps and international traffic not expected to recover until to pre-pandemic levels to 2023, the airline has chosen to suspend the commercial operation of the type, in an email sent out to the airline’s staff.
In a tweet, Jon Ostrower of The Air Current revealed:
The final decisions is “subject to consultation”, but this is the path management is choosing, citing an expectation that long-haul flying will not return to 2019 levels until 2023 “at the soonest,” according to an internal company message.
— Jon Ostrower (@jonostrower) July 16, 2020
Later, the airline confirmed this
It is with great sadness that we can confirm we are proposing to retire our entire 747 fleet with immediate effect. Natalie M
— British Airways (@British_Airways) July 17, 2020
A sad, but expected end
The British Airways 747-400 fleet is a favourite of many, thanks to the upper deck (which I was lucky to fly twice).
I’ve flown the 747 multiple times to Chicago and even to Sydney, in Club, Premium Economy and Economy Class, from the delivered configurations (with the odd putting Premium economy between Club and First class) through the Super Hi J refurbishments too.
I’ve had my qualms about them, but there was always something special about boarding that aircraft to head off into the skies to a destination far away.
Sadly, with the airline withdrawing the type from service the list of passenger operators of Boeing 747-400 grows increasingly smaller, with Rossiya being the biggest operator with 9 aircraft, followed by Lufthansa and Thai Airways.
The rise of the efficient twins and one quad jet
With the Queen of the Skies flying off into the sunset, the “efficient twins” will have to pull their weight, with the Boeing 777 family (777-200, 777-200ER and 777-300ER), Boeing 787 Family (787-8, 787-9, 787-10), Airbus A350-1000 and Airbus A380 taking the slack and delivering the new Club Suite products.
You’ll notice there’s one quad-engined jet in that list – the Airbus A380. The airline has 12 of the type in its fleet still. It will be interesting to see how long these hang around. Compared to some A380 operators, 12 isn’t many at all.
Especially in these dark times.
Farewell, Queen of the Skies.
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