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British Airways displays its complete fleet of Boeing 747 jets

A Boeing Co. 747 passenger plane, operated by British Airways, departs from Heathrow Airport in London, Great Britain.

Chris Ratcliffe | Bloomberg | Getty Images

British Airways, currently the largest operator of the Boeing 747, announced that it would withdraw the entire fleet of legendary aircraft sooner than expected due to the downturn in the corona virus.

The airline of the International Consolidated Airlines Group originally planned to phase out the jumbo jet by 2024. However, due to travel restrictions imposed by Covid-19, the company has decided to take action now.

"With great sadness, we can confirm that we are proposing to discontinue our entire 747 fleet with immediate effect," the airline said in a statement emailed to CNBC.

"Our great & # 39; Queen of Heaven & # 39; is unlikely to ever offer commercial services to British Airways again as the trips caused by the global pandemic of Covid-19 decrease."

British Airways announced it would instead fly more "modern, fuel-efficient aircraft", including the Airbus A350 and Boeing 787.

BA started flying the jet in the early 1970s and took over the current 747-400 fleet between 1989 and 1999. At its peak, the airline had 57 of the 747s, surpassed only by Japan Airlines, and the planes are now said to represent approximately 10% of its entire fleet. It currently owns 31 of the four-engine aircraft with an average age of 23 years.

The news comes after Qantas Airways announced in June that it would immediately withdraw its six Boeing 747 aircraft six months before it was originally planned.

The giant jets are 231 feet long and have a wingspan of 213 feet – big enough to hold 50 parked cars. They were originally designed for 27 First Class passengers and 292 Economy Class passengers and had a lounge on the upper deck, which was called "Club in the Sky". There are now three different seating arrangements.

BA recently warned that 12,000 jobs were at risk due to the pandemic and its impact on air traffic. IAG shares have so far fallen 65% this year.

The International Air Transport Association forecast last month that airlines would lose $ 84 billion this year and another $ 15 billion in 2021. In April, IATA flights were expected to be more than 90% lower than the previous year, the worst year in the history of the industry, according to IATA.

– CNBC's Natasha Turak contributed to this article.

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