Par Bulent Imat
British Airways announces immediate withdrawal of 747 fleet
British Airway has announced that it will immediately withdraw its fleet from the Boeing 747 following the impact of the COVID-19 crisis. The airline was forced to stock all of its 28,747-400 aircraft due to declining demand amid the pandemic of respiratory illnesses.
In a letter to all BA employees, the airline believes the 747s are not viable for the new post-pandemic aviation industry and will seek to accelerate the withdrawal of twin-engine aircraft. Most of the airline’s 747s were to be phased out early in 2024. The interior of its 747s had recently been refurbished as part of a billion-pound upgrade program to help extend service life. life of the fleet. However, the ongoing aviation crisis has forced the standard bearer to immediately remove her double deckers.
The announcement comes as little surprise as airlines around the world are rethinking their fleet strategy for quad jets. KLM also withdrew its 747 fleet from passenger activities, making the decision at the start of the crisis.
“With great regret, we propose, subject to consultation, the immediate withdrawal of our Queen of the Skies, 747-400. We know there is speculation on social media and aviation websites, so we wanted to clarify our position, “the airline told its staff in a letter seen by AirlineGeeks.
This will mark an important milestone for the airline as the jumbo era comes to an end when the affectionately nicknamed “Queen of the Skies” ceases operations for British Airways after a 51-year association. The airline has had tremendous success with the Boeing 747 since entering service, operating its 747 as the flagship of its long-haul fleet.
BA has operated the iconic super-jumbos since 1971 with the 747-100. Its first 747-400, registered G-BNLC, arrived in July 1989 and, in total, British Airways would have operated the -100, -300 and -400 versions. A total of 105 747 hulls were used by the airline. As for the -400 which will now disappear from the sky over Britain, Boeing delivered its last 747 for the airline G-BYGG in April 1999. But after more than 50 years in the sky with the delivered British Airways, it fell out of favor because the airline began to opt for smaller and more profitable planes like the Boeing 787 and the Airbus A350, whose crew of one of these fleets was confirmed as being safe from potential layoffs in the near future.
However, this is an airliner from another era, and they consume much more fuel than the last generation of planes and, logically, require more frequent and detailed attention from our team of engineers, according to British Airways.
British Airways is preparing to return the 747s to service as demand continues to increase. However, as demand for travel does not appear to be rapidly returning to pre-pandemic levels, the company has abandoned the idea of operating four-engine aircraft. The double deck was designed to carry high volumes of passengers, but flight restrictions and fear of new coronaviruses continue to prevent people from traveling.
“The entire airline community is reconciling with a bleak prospect of passenger demand. Long-haul travel will take years to recover, with major industry players agreeing that we will not see a return to 2019 levels until 2023 at the earliest, “said the airline.
The brutal retirement of the super-jumbo will be very moving for the aviation and aeronautical community.
“The unofficial flagship of our fleet, the 747-400 holds a very special place in the hearts of aviation enthusiasts and many of us. We know how many memories of this extraordinary aircraft are shared within the BA family and our proposal to prematurely withdraw the fleet was only taken in response to the crisis in which we find ourselves, ”continues the letter.
Relying on high passenger volumes and strong demand for premium travel, the 747s are no longer commercially viable to operate, particularly during the current airline crisis.
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