British Airways announced on Friday that it will retire all Boeing 747s in its fleet due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic amid a massive decrease in travellers this year.
The British carrier operates the world's largest fleet of its 'Queen of the Skies' jumbo jets in 1989, totalling 31 aircraft, and plans to reach net-zero carbon emissions target by 2050, BBC reported.
"It is with great sadness that we can confirm we are proposing to retire our entire 747 fleet with immediate effect. 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," a British Airways spokesperson said as quoted by the BBC.
The International Airlines Group (IAG) carrier plans to retire the aircraft, accounting for 10 percent of BA's fleet, early despite a previous decision to retire them in 2024.
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The quad-engine aircraft has struggled to compete with newer dual-engine planes such as the Airbus A350 or 787 Dreamliner, among others, which are more fuel efficient and can cover long distance flights.
The news comes as Australian airliner Qantas said it plans to retire its last 747-400, the VH-OEJ Wunala, in an emotional final flight, signalling the aircraft's last voyage after 49 years of operations at the carrier.
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Passengers and company employees have joined numerous flights for the Wunala prior to its last trip, Simple Flying reported.
The economic downturn has seen the aviation sector plummet roughly 95 percent during the European coronavirus pandemic, with Heathrow Airport mulling whether to cut 20,000 jobs if it fails to receive a government lifeline.
An recent survey from the International Air Transport Association (IATA), representing 82 percent of global air traffic, found that 58 percent of passengers would not fly due to risks in contracting COVID-19, despite new 'Take Off' safety measures proposed by the International Civil Aviation Organisation to restart the travel industry.
According to Q1 figures, the disasters have cost the planemaker an estimated $19bn in revenues as numerous global carriers cancel orders and demand compensation for undelivered planes, among other problems.