NEWS: BA retires first B747 with no send off, BA cancels another route until 2021 & BA A380s being flown back to London

British Airways Taken: 5th February 2016 at Heathrow Terminal 5 Picture by: Stuart Bailey / British Airways

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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!

On A “Flight To Nowhere”, Airlines Innovate Against Travel Bans

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 service14 December 1994
Retirement date19 August 2020
Popular / recent routesLast flight was to Lagos, part of the repatriation effort, on 18 April 2020
Liveries wornLandor – ‘City of Coventry’

Current: Union Flag / Chatham Dockyard with oneworld logo

Seating configurationFirst: 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

Cityscape of the Slovenian capital Ljubljana at sunset.

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 

The inaugural British Airways’ A380 arrives at Washington Dulles International Airport, Virginia, USA on 02 October 2014

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. 

7 Comments on "NEWS: BA retires first B747 with no send off, BA cancels another route until 2021 & BA A380s being flown back to London"

  1. I hope the A380 come back on the Singapore route for Xmas.

  2. Flown many miles on the 747 in all variants. BA cancelled the anniversary flights to assuage the WOKE minority, no surprise they will let this slip on into the past unnoticed.

  3. Not being negative here, but the entire airline industry is in chaos atm, so given the current climate, it’s not a priority to mark a big send off for these aircraft. I personally love the A380, but I also know how expensive that plane is to fly and maintain for the airlines and of course the environment, I wouldn’t be disappointed if it was silently scrapped.

    I honestly love this blog, it’s been great finding deals and doing tier point runs. That being said, we’re in a difficult situation, I’m not in the mood to fly anywhere until next year at the earliest. Business travel has basically been postponed until further notice. In times like these, we just need lowered expectations, I’ve seen a few posts going back and forth with excitement restrictions are being lifted and then followed by disappointment when they’re tightened. That’s going to be norm for a while, and I just want to say, we should have lower expectation, most of these travels are just luxury items and it’s a rough time for anyone in the aviation industry especially ground teams and flight crew.

    Also to pop TonyT’s echo chamber bubble, caring about the environment isn’t WOKE, it’s pretty irresponsible for an airline to propose an less efficient airplane to take a routes that are used by planes that don’t pollute as much.

    • Totally respect your feeling not to want to travel at the moment but people wanting to travel and being disappointed when restrictions happen at the last minute is not wrong either. There are 3 million people employed in jobs in or related to the travel industry in the U.K. The government is doing very little to support travel companies now, so if people want to travel and there is a safe way to do it then I think they should. In terms of the B747 I personally think BA should do some special flights if it makes them money. It gives people something to look forward to, helps the company so keeps people in a job. In terms of the environment, I don’t believe that one off historical events should really be considered as they are such a tiny tiny drop in the ocean, there are far more important things to look at. Yes the A380 is not as efficient as smaller aircraft but it is probably more efficient to run one flight with an A380 than several with smaller aircraft overall.

    • I guess you’re the sort of person who would think Red Arrow tribute fly pasts are also a waste of time. The Hawk is hardly modern.

      The 747 is not only an icon, it has made BA billions over the years as the mainstay of the long haul fleet. To not celebrate that with some final flight is tragic and no doubt, partially driven by the whinging eco drum banging minority. Who are more than happy to drop their eco credentials when they want to go on holiday themselves.

      If you don’t want to fly at the moment then don’t. Others should be given the choice to celebrate an amazing plane.

  4. I really hope the A380 resumes work. I love the aircraft.

  5. Michele is absolutely correct regarding the A380 versus smaller aircraft.

    An A380 with 475 passengers utilises lesser fuel than 2 B787 with 400 passengers in total, flying on the same route. Lots of people forget this point despite the fact that Sir Tim Clarke of Emirates has made it in several different media releases and the general public nods along with him.

    Of course, the airlines need to find passengers. Airlines that use(d) outdated hard products inside the aircraft found that difficult before the pandemic, so early retirement of the aircraft became the solution.

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