Queen of the Skies bows out

on . Posted in Aircraft in Focus

The 16th of July. A day a lot of people were hoping wouldn’t be coming so soon. But the COVID-19 pandemic was unfortunately the final nail in the coffin for British Airway’s 747 fleet when staff were sent an email detailing the ‘immediate retirement’ of the type from service.

The company said: “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.”



Shortly before the UK was locked down on 23rd March 2020, British Airways had already started putting aircraft in to storage – keeping a dozen flying for emergency cargo runs for NHS PPE (Protective masks and gowns etc). Placing aircraft in storage kept the running costs down and were stored in a way they could quickly be put back into service. A few 747s even had recently had their interiors refitted.

 At the time of the 747 retirement announcement, the current fleet status were as follows:
Stored at Heathrow: 9 (G-BYGF, G-CIVB, G-CIVD, G-CIVE, G-CIVH, G-CIVI, G-CIVK, G-CIVP, G-CIVY)
Stored at Cardiff: 14 (G-BNLY, G-BYGA, G-BYGB, G-BYGC, G-BYGD, G-BYGE, G-BYGG, G-CIVC, G-CIVF, G-CIVO, G-CIVU, G-CIVV, G-CIVW, G-CIVZ)
Stored at Teruel: 5 (G-CIVA, G-CIVR, G-CIVS, G-CIVT, G-CIVX)
Stored at Kemble:3 (G-CIVJ, G-CIVL, G-CIVN)

Affectionately known as ‘The Queen of the skies’  by crews and enthusiasts alike, the Boeing 747 has been around since 29th April 1988, entering service with BA a year later.
The aircraft was the center of attention last year when BA painted 3 B747’s in past liveries to celebrate BA100: 100 Years of British Airways.



G-BYGC: BOAC livery
‘Golf Charlie’ was the first 747 to roll out of the Dublin paint shed on the 19h February 2019 revealing its glamorous BOAC livery which the type wore between 1964 and 1974. It was flown back to Heathrow using flight number  ‘BA100’ and callsign SPEEDBIRD 100 before going back into service to New York a day later.


Later in the year, G-BYGC featured in the Royal International Air Tattoo, flying with the Red Arrows to mark BA100.



G-BNLY: Landor livery
9th March 2019 saw the second heritage livery delivered to heathrow, representing the stunning Landor livery which was in use across the BA fleet 1984-1997

G-CIVB: Negus livery
21st March 2019 saw the final heritage livery delivered to heathrow, this time representing the Negus livery which was in use across the BA fleet from the merge of BEA and BOAC in 1974 until the later Landor scheme was brought In as seen above.

The type only represents 10% of the BA fleet and with the 12 A380s slowly coming out of storage and the cutting edge, fuel efficient A350s and B787s being delivered, it should not come as too much of a surprise.



Update: Disposals

Following the announcement of the 747's retirement from service with British Airways, attention began to turn on where all the airframes would end up. Aircraft graveyards in the US, museums or the scrap man were all rumours floating around. I was in the fortunate position to live just a couple minutes from Cotswold Airport, Kemble where many of them ended up for storage. Officially, storage is the official term at present, but more than likely most, if not all 747s here will ended up being broken down for parts...



The below list is to be updated as they are each disposed of...

G-BNLY Withdrawn From Use: 23th March 2020
31st March 2020: Heathrow to Bournemouth | Storage
15th June 2020: Bournemouth to Cardiff | Storage
G-BYGA Withdrawn From Use: 21st March 2020
23rd March 2020: Heathrow to Cardiff | Storage
08th September 2020: Cardiff to Kemble | Scrapping
G-BYGB Withdrawn From Use: 21st March 2020
21st March 2020: Heathrow to Cardiff | Storage
02nd September 2020: Cardiff to Kemble | Scrapping
G-BYGC Withdrawn From Use: 05th April 2020
20th June 2020: Heathrow to Cardiff | Storage
tbc
G-BYGD Withdrawn From Use: 16th March 2020
16th March 2020: Heathrow to Cardiff | Storage
tbc
G-BYGE Withdrawn From Use: 23th March 2020
23rd March 2020: Heathrow to Cardiff | Storage
24th September 2020: Cardiff to Kemble | Scrapping
G-BYGF Withdrawn From Use: 09th April 2020
26th August 2020: Heathrow to Kemble | Scrapping
G-BYGG Withdrawn From Use: 02nd April 2020
03rd June 2020: Heathrow to Cardiff | Storage
tbc
G-CIVA Withdrawn From Use: 28th March 2020
03rd April 2020: Heathrow - Teruel | Scrapping
G-CIVB Withdrawn From Use: 06th April 2020
08th October 2020: Heathrow - Kemble | Preserved
G-CIVC Withdrawn From Use: 28th March 2020
31st March 2020: Heathrow - Bournemouth | Storage
09th June 2020: Bournemouth - Cardiff | Storage
tbc
GCIVE Withdrawn From Use: 24th March 2020
16th September 2020: Heathrow - St Athan | Scrapping
G-CIVF Withdrawn From Use: 06th April 2020
06th June 2020: Heathrow - Cardiff | Storage
tbc
G-CIVI Withdrawn From Use: 06th April 2020
09th September 2020: Heathrow - St Athan | Scrapping
G-CIVJ Withdrawn From Use: 06th April 2020
15th April 2020: Heathrow - Kemble | Scrapping
G-CIVK Withdrawn From Use: 18th March 2020
26th September 2020: Heathrow - St Athan | Scrapping
G-CIVL Withdrawn From Use: 26th March 2020
14th April 2020: Heathrow - Kemble | Scrapping
G-CIVN Withdrawn From Use: 26th March 2020
16th April 2020: Heathrow - Kemble
G-CIVO Withdrawn From Use: 03rd June 2020
03rd June 2020: Heathrow - Cardiff | Storage
11th September 2020: Cardiff - Kemble | Scrapping
G-CIVP Withdrawn From Use: 28th March 2020
31st March 2020: Heathrow - Bournemouth | Storage
28th May 2020: Bournemouth - Heathrow | Storage
21st September 2020: Heathrow - St Athan | Scrapping
G-CIVR Withdrawn From Use: 20th March 2020
03rd April 2020: Heathrow - Teruel | Scrapping
G-CIVS Withdrawn From Use: 29th March 2020
03rd April 2020: Heathrow - Teruel | Scrapping
G-CIVT Withdrawn From Use: 28th March 2020
03rd April 2020: Heathrow - Teruel | Scrapping
G-CIVU Withdrawn From Use: 27th March 2020
31st March 2020: Heathrow - Bournemouth | Storage
05th June 2020: Bournemouth - Cardiff | Storage
tbc
G-CIVV Withdrawn From Use: 23rd March 2020
23rd March 2020: Heathrow - Cardiff | Storage
28th September 2020: Cardiff - Castellon | Scrapping
G-CIVW Withdrawn From Use: 29th March 2020
31st March 2020: Heathrow - Bournemouth | Storage
11th June 2020: Bournemouth - Cardiff | Storage
22nd October 2020: Cardiff - Dunsfold | Movie Prop
G-CIVX Withdrawn From Use: 19th March 2020
03rd April 2020: Heathrow - Teruel | Scrapping
G-CIVY Withdrawn From Use: 05th April 2020
08th October 2020: Heathrow - St Athan | Scrapping
G-CIVZ Withdrawn From Use: 17th March 2020
17th March 2020: Heathrow - Cardiff | Storage
18th October 2020: Cardiff - Newquay | Scrapping

 
Boeing 747-436 - G-BYGF - British Airways | SPEEDBIRD 9177E | 26th August 2020: London Heathrow - Kemble 


Boeing 747-436 - G-BYGE - British Airways | Callsign: SPEEDBIRD 9177E | 24th September 2020: Cardiff to Kemble

 Boeing 747-436 - G-CIVB - British Airways | SPEEDBIRD 400 | 08th October 2020: London Heathrow to Kemble