London. 20 July 2020. British Airways has taken the decision to retire its entire Boeing 747 jumbo jet fleet with immediate effect as the airline seeks to survive the COVID-19 pandemic.

The airline is the world’s largest operator of Boeing 747s and had been planned to retire its fleet of 31 aircraft in 2024. With passenger demand in freefall after travel and border restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic and recovery is forecast to take years.

A British Airways statement read: “It is with great sadness that we can confirm we are proposing to retire our entire 747 fleet with immediate effect.”

“While the aircraft will always have a special place in our heart, as we head into the future we will be operating more flights on modern, fuel-efficient aircraft such as our new A350s and 787s,” BA added.

The 747 was credited for its role in democratising global air travel in the 1970s but the aircraft now trails newer planes in fuel efficiency, making it more expensive to run.

BA has already announced the loss of 12,000 jobs as it downsizes operations to service a much smaller travel market expected over the coming years