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    Friday, July 17, 2020

    British Airways Retires Entire 747 Fleet Due to Travel Downturn

    UK flag carrier British Airways said Friday it is retiring its entire Boeing 747 fleet, following the slump in international air travel caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

    “It is with great sadness that we can confirm we are proposing to retire our entire 747 fleet with immediate effect,” the airline said in a statement.

    “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.”

    The 400-passenger 747 was launched by Boeing in 1970, and dominated international air travel and cargo over the following decades.

    With 31 Jumbos in its fleet, BA currently flies more of the planes than any other airline, according to its statement.

    It added the last had been due to retire in 2024 as the carrier turns to more modern and fuel-efficient models like Boeing’s 787 and the Airbus A350.

    The pandemic has battered the air transport sector, with the latest casualty United Airlines warning last week it could lay off as many as 36,000 workers.

    Virgin Australia has also collapsed, and is being bought by an American company.

    In May, BA’s owner IAG reported a net loss of 1.68 billion euros ($1.8 billion) in the three months to the end of March.

    The airline has announced plans to lay off 12,000 staff and last month was reported to be selling off artworks by Damien Hirst, Bridget Riley and Peter Doig thought to be worth millions of pounds to raise funds.

    Boeing itself has announced 16,000 layoffs.
    The airline has used the craft since July 1989 and is currently the world’s biggest operator of the 747-400 model.

    British Airways operated the plane, powered to a top speed of 614mph by four Rolls Royce engines, to destinations in China, the US, Canada and Africa.

    UK airlines have struggled to cope with the collapse in demand caused by the coronavirus crisis, with easyJet, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic all announcing job cuts and reduced operations.

    Meanwhile, demand for air travel will take longer to return to pre-pandemic levels than initially expected, according to the latest industry forecast.
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