British Airways has officially retired its fleet of Boeing 747-400 jumbo jets.
The final two aircraft took off from London Heathrow today (Thursday 8th October), marking the end of an era for the planes.
The airline has been forced to retire its Boeing 747s with immediate effect due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the aviation industry.
The two planes were sent off in a synchronised dual take off on parallel runways. One aircraft was painted in a heritage Negus livery, and the other in the current Chatham Dockyard livery.
The latter plane was also sent on a fly past along the southerly runway as a nod to bid farewell to its Heathrow home.
They will be retired in the UK, at Kemble and St Athan. Between them, the two aircraft have flown an impressive 104 million miles in their 47 years of service with the airline.
Due to social distancing, British Airways didn’t host an event to see off its final two planes, but it did livestream the take-off on its Facebook page so that aviation fans could catch a glimpse of the momentous event.
There were 31 Boeing 747 planes in the British Airways fleet, all of which flew their last commercial services over the summer. At one point, the airline had been operating 57 of the aircraft.
The jets were already being slowly phased out of the fleet due to their being so ‘fuel-hungry’, but this was accelerated as a result of the impact of the pandemic.
Alex Cruz, British Airways’ Chairman and CEO said: “Today was an emotional milestone in the retirement of our 747 fleet as it was our last chance to see the Queen of the Skies depart from our home at Heathrow airport.
“The 747s have played a huge role in our 100-year history, forming the backbone of our fleet for over 50 years. I know I speak for our customers and the many thousands of colleagues who have spent much of their careers alongside them when I say we will miss seeing them grace our skies.”
The airline is offering discounts on a total of 747 seats in its Club World cabins (its business class offerings), with fares from £999 available on the British Airways website.
Aviation fans are also being encouraged to share their favourite 747 memories using #BA747farewell on social media.