Since I am about to write below about BA’s very sad decision not to do anything to commemorate the retirement of its B747s, my Forbes article may interest you. It shows how some airlines are coming up with clever solutions to keep people flying. If only BA would adopt this. I think a flight to nowhere with some champagne and great food would be fantastic – especially on a B747!
With a large proportion of countries around the world not allowing any international flights except repatriation, airlines have been forced to come up with new ways to generate revenue. Although some travelers remain too scared to fly and people face travel shaming if they do, there are a growing number of people desperate to take to the skies again.
British Airways retires its first B747
British Airways will tomorrow retire its first Boeing 747 since announcing last month that all 31 of its jumbo jets had sadly flown their last commercial services.
The Boeing 747-400, registration G-CIVD, will depart from London Heathrow on Tuesday, 18 August at 9am local time under flight number BA9170E after more than 25 magnificent years of flying.
British Airways’ fleet of 747s are being retired at an accelerated rate as a result of the devastating impact the Covid-19 pandemic has had on the airline and the aviation sector, which is not predicted to recover to 2019 levels until at least 2024*.
Al Bridger, British Airways’ Director of Flight Operations, said:
“All of us at British Airways and so many of our customers will have fond memories and special moments from our travels on the iconic jumbo jet.
“As a pilot who was lucky enough to fly the aircraft, the sheer scale of it was unforgettable, you literally looked down on other aircraft. It changed aviation forever when it arrived in the skies and I know I speak for our customers and the global aviation community when I say, despite rightly moving to more sustainable ways of flying, we will still miss the 747 dearly.”
I’m sure we were all hoping BA would do something special to mark the end of such an iconic aircraft but it looks like they will be doing very little apart from sending press releases. I am still hoping they may try to arrange some socially distanced press send off or do something like Qantas with the drawing of a kangaroo in the sky.
Alex Cruz sent an email to staff last week which stated
We are starting the early retirement of our beautiful 747-400s as part of the reshaping of our airline. This is a necessary move reflecting the cliff-edge drop in premium long-haul travel, which may never recover to the levels we saw in 2019. If these were normal times, we would be celebrating the retirement of the Queens of the Skies with a great deal of noise including special commemorative flights and colleague events. Sadly, given the difficulty of operating during the pandemic, the farewell will be less lavish, but still heartfelt.
That does not sound promising for any sort of send-off for the public. Depending on when the final one leaves Heathrow, I definitely plan to go and wave it off!
British Airways 747 – G-CIVD fact file:
|Date it entered service||14 December 1994|
|Retirement date||19 August 2020|
|Popular / recent routes||Last flight was to Lagos, part of the repatriation effort, on 18 April 2020|
|Liveries worn||Landor – ‘City of Coventry’||Current: Union Flag / Chatham Dockyard with oneworld logo|
|Seating configuration||First: 14||Club: 52||World Traveller Plus: 36|
World Traveller: 243
|Facts and stats (approximate)||Top speed: 565mph||Take off speed: 180mph||Length: 70.6m, Height: 19.41m, Wingspan: 64.4m|
Weight: 184 tonnes, maximum take-off weight 378 tonnes
4 x Rolls-Royce RB211-524 engines
Flown 115,276.8 hours, 13,364 flights and over 50 million miles
The 747 has been an iconic part of British Airways’ fleet for nearly fifty years. At one point the airline operated 57 of the aircraft, with the jumbo jet’s first flight to New York in 1971.
The fuel-hungry aircraft were slowly being phased out by British Airways as they reached the end of their working life in order to help meet the company’s commitment to net zero by 2050. The airline has invested heavily in new, modern long-haul aircraft including six A350s and 32 787s which are around 25 percent more fuel-efficient than the 747.
BA cancels another route until 2021
One of the other new routes I was really looking forward to trying from BA was Ljubljana. I was looking for flights the other day and was surprised to see none showing from BA as they had been due to restart this summer from July and been delayed a month at a time. The route was launched in 2019. British Airways has now cancelled plans for the seasonal flights between London Heathrow Airport and Ljubljana this summer and they will not relaunch until summer 2021.
BA A380s being flown back to London
There have been a lot of mutterings recently when BA started to fly their A380s from Chateauroux airfield in France where they were being stored, back to London. The first A380 of the 12 being stored came back to London in mid-July. Most airlines have grounded their A380 fleets due to lack of demand, but BA had given no comments to suggest that they planned to retire theirs early. In the briefing with their half-year results they announced that four of their 12 A380s would be temporarily grounded. BA have been doing routine maintenance on the A380s in London as well as the Philippines for major overhauls. These are required legally as well as part of their lease agreements.
Hopefully, this means we will see them in the skies again soon but it’s unlikely until one of the usual destinations it serves opens up again. Previously it was on routes such as Singapore, Hong Kong, Los Angeles and Johannesburg. In the meantime, they are being returned back to Chateauroux when they have had their maintenance.