British Airways Bids Adieu to First of 31 Retired Boeing 747s
The first of 31 idled Boeing 747s at British Airways took off from London Heathrow Airport on August 18th for its final resting place at an aircraft boneyard in Castellon, Spain. The flight marked the start of the airline’s ultimate disposal of its fleet, the first member of which entered service in 1971 with BA progenitor British Overseas Airways Corporation.
Although not the first 747 retired as a result of Covid-19, the BA jumbo jet served as part of the world’s largest fleet of the iconic jets, which at one time numbered 57 airplanes. In June Qantas retired the last of its six 747-400s, six months ahead of schedule, as part of a wider recovery plan. KLM flew its last 747 passenger flights at the end of May, also ahead of the scheduled 2021 departure of the airline's 747s. Lufthansa now operates the world’s largest 747 fleet, flying 19 new-generation 747-8Is and eight 747-400s.
For BA, though, the future lies with less fuel-thirsty airplanes such as the Boeing 787 and Airbus A350, as economics trump the Queen of the Skies’ nostalgia value.