British Airways has decided to no longer operate its fleet of the iconic Boeing 747-400 model, retiring it with immediate effect due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The famous plane has been used by British Airways since 1989, and the airline is currently the world’s biggest operator of the model.
Whilst it was set to retire the fleet of 31 airplanes in 2024, the COVID-19 travel measures have prompted the airline to retire them earlier, as travel has been minimised throughout the last few months.
This means that the famous double-decker plane will no longer be used within UK airlines, as Virgin Atlantic have also recently announced that they will be scrapping their remaining versions of the 747.
British Airways made use of the planes to provide flights to destination such as China, the United States, Canada and numerous countries in Africa.
In an official statement, British Airways said: “It is with great sadness that we can confirm we are proposing to retire our entire 747 fleet with immediate effect.”
The company claimed that the planes will not operate again “due to the downturn in travel caused by the COVID-19 global pandemic”.
The airline also added that they will be shifting flights to more “modern, fuel-efficient aircraft such as our new A350s and 787s, to help us achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050”.
Many have claimed that the aircraft is an ‘icon’, with Pilot Dave Wallsworth stating on Twitter that it is “An aviation icon and the aircraft most pilots grew up wanting to fly.”
He also added that it is “the most recognisable aircraft in the world”, known for its double-decker style, being able to seat passengers on two different levels.
Apart from British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, Qantas Airlines is also set to retire its fleet, after making use of the model for around 50 years, with the aircraft flying three victory laps on July 13, July 15 and July 17, before going from Sydney to California’s Mojave desert to be stored permanently on July 22.
Airlines have been affected the most by the COVID-19 pandemic, and as travel measures were eased during June and July, the figures for June still managed to show that the increase in air travel is still slower than expected.
British Airways does not expect to see the levels of travel demand of 2019 back until 2023.