British Airways is permanently retiring all of its Boeing 747 fleet due to the drop in demand caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The airline announced that the jumbo jets will be decommissioned with immediate effect.
At the beginning of the pandemic, British Airways planned to retire only five of the 31 Boeing 747 aircraft it operates. But on July 16, 2020, the carrier said that none of the jumbos would take back to the skies after the crisis.
“It is unlikely our magnificent ‘queen of the skies’ will ever operate commercial services for British Airways again due to the downturn in travel caused by the Covid-19 global pandemic,” the airline said in a statement. “While the aircraft will always have a special place in our heart, as we head into the future we will be operating more flights on modern, fuel-efficient aircraft such as our new A350s and 787s, to help us achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.”
British Airways has been the biggest operator of the model, with 105 jumbos operated throughout the years since the first delivery in 1971. Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, the 747s were supposed to be retired by 2024.
The early retirement of the whole fleet is likely to cause job redundancies. International Airlines Group (IAG) (IAG), the controlling company of British Airways, already indicated in a statement on April 28, 2020, that 12,000 positions would be cut, a fourth of the British carrier’s workforce.
British Airways is not the first to take a similar decision. Earlier during the crisis, Qantas, KLM, Virgin Atlantic, and Corsair also decided to retire their jumbos for good.
Boeing will likely end the production of the legendary aircraft in 2022. Sixteen jumbo freighters remain to be delivered, as well as the two upcoming VIP aircraft for the Air Force One fleet.