CRUISING through the jet stream at 600mph, the Boeing 747 has been the iconic Queen of the Skies for the last 50 years.
Affectionately called the Jumbo Jet, it changed the way we all travel.
It made getting airborne affordable to millions with adventure in all directions. An Atlantic crossing was cut to 6.5hours. Airports, passports, cabin crew and inflight-movies became a part of everyone’s lives.
But the coronavirus pandemic has grounded flights worldwide and the downturn in travel meant British Airways took the decision to pull its last two Boeing 747s from service. With demand for more fuel efficient aircraft, the airline had scheduled to retire these planes in 2024 to meet its zero carbon emissions pledge by 2050.
Now, with so few people flying, it’s done it four years early.
Today the 747 jets roared and the tyres squealed off the wet tarmac at Heathrow for the last time at 8.30am in a synchronised take off followed by a fly past.
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BA said: “The retirement of the airline’s fleet of 747-400 was brought forward as a result of the impact the Covid-19 pandemic has had on the airline and the aviation sector, which is not predicted to recover to 2019 levels until 2023/24.”
Despite their old age, the 747 is still one of fastest passenger planes in the skies. In February this year a 747-400 from London landed in New York in a record 4.56hours.
British Airways’ chairman and ceo Alex Cruz, said “We will pay tribute to them for the incredible part they have played in our 100-year history and to the millions of customers and BA colleagues who have flown on board and taken care of them.
“We hope that Britain will join us in sharing their memories with us on social media at 7:47am and 7.47pm on Thursday using #BA747farewell.”
The planes are expected to be assessed for resale and striped for parts.