There are now no passenger Boeing 747 operators in the United Kingdom following the news that British Airways has decided not to reactivate its fleet and retire them immediately.
The news had been expected, with a number of the aircraft seen being ferried to storage locations and the airline laying off thousands of staff as it returns with a network which is only a shadow of its former self.
Blaming the downturn in travel and its effect on demand, British Airways is retiring the remaining 747-400s of its once 60-strong fleet.
A spokesman for British Airways said: “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,”
In fact, British Airways has been operating variants of the 747 since its inception in 1974, as it acquired early 747-100s from its predecessor BOAC.
Enthusiasts had hoped to see the Queen of the Skies return to flight before being retired, especially the aircraft wearing the special heritage liveries introduced last year.
They include aircraft wearing BOAC, Negus and Landor liveries, which were all previously worn by Boeing 747s of the national airline and were much welcomed among spotters and the flying public.
Future Long Haul Fleet
British Airways will now focus its long haul fleet on its Boeing 777, 787 and Airbus A350 and A380 aircraft.
The future of its Airbus A380 super jumbo fleet is not certain at this time.
These modern types have only two engines (apart from the A380), burn much less fuel, and are more comfortable for passengers.
It’s an incredibly sad day for the 747, as one of its most siginificant operators cuts short their wings and retires them for good.
The remaining examples will no doubt be seen ferrying to scrapping locations over coming months. Most are currently stored at London Heathrow, Cardiff and Bournemouth airports.