British Airways has announced that it will take all Boeing 747s out of service as it faces the unprecedented slump in travel requests during the coronavirus pandemic, marking the end of an era for the legendary jumbo jet.
The move means removing all 31 of its 747-400 aircraft from its larger fleet of 300 aircraft, four years earlier than originally planned.
"With great sadness, we can confirm that we are proposing to discontinue our entire 747 fleet with immediate effect," said a BA spokesman.
"Our great" Queen of the Skies "is unlikely to ever offer commercial services to British Airways again as the trip has declined due to the global COVID-19 pandemic," added the spokesman.
BA owned by the IAG
took delivery of its first 747-400 aircraft in July 1989 and is currently the world's largest operator of the 747-400. IAG shares fell nearly 3% early in the morning at 10:15 GMT in London.
The airline originally planned to phase out the jumbo jets by 2024 and gradually replace them with newer, more efficient twin-engine jets like the Boeing
787 Dreamliner and Airbus
At the time, the airline had a fleet of 57 747-400 aircraft, the second largest operator of this type of aircraft in the world. Japan Airlines
had more than 100 in its fleet. At first there was a lounge with deck chairs on the upper deck. It was known as "Club in the Sky".
The wings of a 747-400 span 213 feet and are large enough to hold 50 parked cars. The rear height of 64 feet corresponds to a six-story building.
BA said the planes will all be retired with immediate effect. The 747 make up about 10% of the entire BA fleet.
BA has come under intense pressure to cut costs, lay off thousands of workers and set up its fleet to prevent the collapse in the face of an unprecedented slump in travel requests due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Read:British Airways warns that the demand for air travel will recover "for several years" as up to 12,000 jobs will be lost
IAG chief Willie Walsh said BA is "fighting for survival" and the airline does not expect international travel requests to return to 2019 levels by 2023.
BA's restructuring plan, which includes the loss of 12,000 jobs, approximately 30% of the workforce, has been criticized for its “fire and reinstatement tactics”. This caused legislators in all parties to urge British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to review the airline's valuable landing sites at airports, including London Heathrow.
To collect money, the airline also auctions off part of its art collection and sells 17 paintings and prints by artists such as Bridget Riley, Damien Hirst and Patrick Heron.
Read:British Airways plans to bring in millions of art sales to alleviate the corona virus money crisis