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British Airways has joined the club of former Boeing 747 airlines. A club that has welcomed many new members recently, including KLM, Qantas and (perhaps) Lufthansa. The airline says it’s sad to see the ‘Queen of the Skies’ go, but sees no other way due to the COVID-19 crisis.
Queen of the Skies
The Boeing 747, better known as the ‘Queen of the Skies’ by aviation aficionados, flew for nearly five decades at British Airways. Just last year, BA repainted a 747 in celebration of the airline’s centenary. The ‘BOAC‘ (British Overseas Airways Corporation) livery then flew with the British Red Arrows at the Royal International Air Tattoo. Now, the aircraft will shortly be heading towards its final resting place alongside 30 others.
At its height, the airline had a fleet of 57 747-400s. It started flying the 747 in April 1971. The last 747 was delivered to British Airways in 1999.
The earlier than planned phase out of the BA Boeing 747 is not very surprising. In current market conditions, highly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, demand for air travel has plummeted. Airlines simply don’t need big aircraft now. Next to that, as BA puts it themselves, the fuel-hungry planes needed to be replaced in the coming years anyway.
Airlines are currently not in need of new aircraft, certainly not in the short term. However, British Airways will continue its fleet renewal programme. It has, for instance, invested in the new Airbus A350 and Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Both aircraft are much more fuel-efficient and offer more 21st century comfort to passengers. In addition, the airline has also been investing to update its cabins – in particular, its new business class Club Suite product.