Over the past several years we’ve seen airline after airline after airline retire the 747. That’s a shame, since the queen of the skies is an iconic plane that completely revolutionized aviation, and there’s not really a replacement for it. The 747-8 has been a bit of a flop (at least when it comes to the passenger version of the plane), and the A380 unfortunately only seems to be working for Emirates, which just took delivery of their 100th A380.
Instead airlines are opting for more fuel efficient and lower capacity planes, like the Airbus A350 and Boeing 787. These planes allow airlines to operate routes that weren’t previously feasible, and also do a better job of maximizing yields, as there aren’t as many seats to sell.
The world’s largest operator of the Boeing 747 is British Airways, as they have 36 Boeing 747-400s in their fleet. While other airlines park the planes in the desert, British Airways up until now hasn’t announced any plans to retire the plane.
Well, we now have a better sense of what the future of the plane looks like. Per FlightGlobal, IAG’s Chief Financial Officer has said that British Airways plans to retire their fleet of Boeing 747s by February 2024. They plan to phase out the aircraft in stages, with half of their 747s being phased out by 2021.
It’s interesting to get more details on the future of British Airways’ 747s, though it’s also nice to know that the planes still have over five years of life left in them (at least from an aviation geek standpoint, maybe less so from a passenger experience standpoint).
As it stands, in addition to 747s, the airline has a longhaul fleet consisting of 777s, 787s, and A380. The airline has a further 17 787s and 18 A350s on order, so they’ll make up for much of the capacity that’s lost with the 747s being retired.
British Airways’ CFO claims that the more modern aircraft are 30% more efficient than the 747s, and that should lead to a roughly 200 million USD annual fuel benefit within the next five years.
Are you happy or sad to see the 747s (eventually) leaving British Airways’ fleet?