Jumbo ends: British Airways withdraws 747 fleet early from coronavirus woes


LONDON / BENGALURU (Reuters) – British Airways, the world’s largest Boeing 747 operator, will withdraw its entire fleet of jets with immediate effect after the new coronavirus pandemic has sent air travel in free fall.

FILE PHOTO: A British Airways Boeing 747-400 at San Francisco International Airport, San Francisco, California, February 14, 2015. REUTERS / Louis Nastro

For more than 50 years, Boeing (TO PROHIBIT“Queen of the Skies” was the most recognizable airliner in the world with its hunchbacked fuselage and four engines, but its days were already numbered before the pandemic struck earlier this year.

BA plans to retire in 2024, but with passenger numbers decimated this year and forecasts that it will take years before they recover, the airline said it was unlikely that its 747 operate again commercially for it.

“It is with great sadness that we can confirm that we are proposing to withdraw our entire 747 fleet with immediate effect,” BA said in a statement on Thursday.

The 747 aircraft democratized global air transportation in the 1970s, but lagged behind modern twin-engine aircraft and now tracks newer aircraft in terms of fuel consumption, making it expensive to operate.

“While the plane will always have a special place in our hearts, as we head into the future, we will operate more flights on modern and fuel-efficient aircraft such as our new A350 and 787,” added BA.

British Airways chief executive said the company, which is owned by IAG (ICAG.L), faces a battle for survival due to the pandemic, which has resulted in travel restrictions around the world for most of this year.

BA said it had to cut up to 12,000 jobs, or about 28% of its workforce, to prepare for the smaller travel market expected over the next few years.

The Sun reported last month that BA had reached an agreement with its pilots to dismiss 350 and 300 others in “pool” to re-engage them if necessary. It was expected that the majority of pilots grouped together would be the co-pilots of the large aircraft.

Boeing, based in the United States, and its suppliers announced the end of the aircraft, when they defined the final number of parts it would need for the 747 widebody program at least a year ago.

Report by Maria Pinezhath in Bengaluru, edited by Sherry Jacob-Phillips / Guy Faulconbridge

Our standards:Principles of the Thomson Reuters Trust.


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