British Airways to Retire Entire Boeing 747 Fleet Due to Pandemic

July 17, 2020 Updated: July 17, 2020

British Airways (BA) has announced it’s shutting down its entire Boeing 747 fleet as a result of the downturn in air travel caused by the CCP virus pandemic.

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

BA currently owns 31 Boeing 747s. The fleet was originally scheduled to retire by 2024, but the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) virus pandemic has brought it forward by more than three years.

“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,” BA said.

BA is currently the world’s biggest operator of Boeing 747-400s. It took delivery of its first 747-400 in July 1989. At its height, BA had a fleet of 57 747 aircraft.

British Airways Boeing
A British Airways special liveried Boeing 747 takes to the skies alongside the Red Arrows during the 2019 Royal International Air Tattoo on July 20, 2019, at RAF Fairford, England. (Ian Gavan/Getty Images for British Airways)

The original aircraft accommodated 27 first class and 292 economy class passengers. Initially, the upper deck contained a lounge, which was known as the “club in the sky.”

The airline will be operating more flights on modern, fuel-efficient aircraft such as A350s and 787s, but BA said the 747s “will always have a special place in our heart.”

British Airways, owned by the International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (IAG), has been heavily hit by the CCP virus pandemic.

IAG announced in April that BA was planning to cut more than a quarter of its jobs—affecting over 12,000 employees.

Willie Walsh, CEO of IAG, told the UK parliament’s transport committee in May that his company had exhausted every avenue to shore up its finances and was burning through cash.