British Airways has decided to immediately retire its entire Boeing 747-400 fleet of 30 aircraft due to the disruption in the aviation industry as a result of the coronavirus.
First reports of the move emerged after an internal memo on 16 July was sent to all British Airways staff and subsequently shared widely online.
“We are proposing, subject to consultation, the immediate retirement of our Queen of the Skies, the 747-400,” the note reads. “The whole airline community is reconciling itself to a bleak outlook for passenger demand. Long haul travel will take years to recover with the major industry bodies agreeing we will not see a return to 2019 levels until 2023 at the soonest.”
According to Cirium fleets data, British Airways had 30 of the iconic widebody long-range aircraft in its fleet, all of which have been parked as the gobal health crisis led to a sharp drop in demand and curtailment of flights. l71 carriers worldwide currently operate 500 examples of the large widebody, including freighter versions.
The airline had said earlier that the fleet would be retired by 2024, to be replaced with Airbus A350s and 787 Dreamliners.
British Airways becomes the second passenger carrier in as many months to announce it will stop flying the 747. In June, Australia’s Qantas said it would be accelerating the retirement of its remaining six 747 aircraft.