Wayfarer TV: British Airways farewells the first of its last Boeing 747-400s in style

by James Wilkinson

British Airways has this week (Aug 18) retired its first Boeing 747 since announcing last month that all 31 of its jumbo jets had sadly flown their last commercial services.

The Boeing 747-400, registration G-CIVD, departed from London Heathrow under flight number BA9170E after more than 25 magnificent years of flying.

In that time, G-CIVD flew 115,276.8 hours, 13,364 flights and over 50 million miles across the globe, including its last commercial flight, a repatriation service from Lagos, Nigeria on April 18, 2020.

British Airways’ fleet of 747s are being retired at an accelerated rate as a result of the devastating impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the airline and the aviation sector, which, according to industry body IATA, is not predicted to recover to 2019 levels until at least 2024.

British Airways’ Director of Flight Operations, Al Bridger, said: “All of us at British Airways and so many of our customers will have fond memories and special moments from our travels on the iconic jumbo jet.

“As a pilot who was lucky enough to fly the aircraft, the sheer scale of it was unforgettable, you literally looked down on other aircraft.

“It changed aviation forever when it arrived in the skies and I know I speak for our customers and the global aviation community when I say, despite rightly moving to more sustainable ways of flying, we will still miss the 747 dearly.”

The 747 has been an iconic part of British Airways’ fleet for nearly 50 years and at one point the airline operated 57 of the aircraft, with the jumbo jet’s first flight to New York in 1971.

The retirement of the Boeing 747-400 fleet comes as fuel-hungry aircraft are slowly being phased out by British Airways as they reach the end of their working life in order to help meet the company’s commitment to net zero by 2050. The airline has invested heavily in new, modern long-haul aircraft including six Airbus A350-1000s and 32 787s which are around 25 per cent more fuel-efficient than the 747.