British Airways announced on Friday that it will retire its 31 Boeing 747s due to falling travel demand in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.
The company said: “It is with great sadness that we can confirm we are proposing to retire our entire 747 fleet with immediate effect.
“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.
“While the aircraft will always have a special place in our heart, as we head into the future we will be operating more flights on modern, fuel-efficient aircraft such as our new A350s and 787s, to help us achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.”
The airline which operated the aircraft type since 1989 had planned to retire the fleet in 2024 but coronavirus pandemic has hastened the end.
British Airways is currently the world’s biggest operator of the 747-400 model which flew to destinations in China, the US, Canada and Africa.
Airlines all across the globe is struggling to cope with the collapse in air travel demand left in the wake of the coronavirus crisis. According to the industry forecast, air travel demand will take longer than initially expected to return to pre-pandemic levels.
Even with the opening of borders and the easing of air travel restrictions, passenger traffic across European airports last month was down 93% compared with June 2019. In May passenger traffic in Europe was down 98% over the previous year, illustrating how slow the recovery is.
In April BA said it would cut up to 12,000 jobs from its global workforce of 45,000 after plunging to its worst ever quarterly loss and admitting air travel will take years to recover.
The Boeing 747 in February 2019 marked its 50-year flying anniversary and shrunk the world over the years that it has been in service.
Although Boeing has not made an announcement, it has been widely reported the production of the plane is coming to an end with the last 747 jumbo jet set to be rolled out in 2 years.