LONDON – British Airways (BA) has announced that it will retire its first of 31 Boeing 747-400 aircraft tomorrow.

G-CIVD (LN 1048) will be the first unit to depart, as BA9170E. This particular aircraft has been in service for over 25 years following its entry into service in December 1994.

Its last flight was on April 18 between London Heathrow (LHR) and Lagos (LOS).

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Aircraft Information


G-CIVD (Or Victor Delta) had a staggering four classes in its cabin configuration. It offered 14 seats in First Class, 52 in Club, 36 in World Traveller Plus and 243 in World Traveller.

The aircraft was flown over 115,276.8 hours, operating 13,364 flights and traveling 50 million miles. Victor Delta was painted into “oneworld” special colors back in January 2014, around 20 years after it came into service.

The airframe featured the Landor livery too, with the title “City of Coventry” applied onto it.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Sad Words from Flight Operations


Commenting on this news was Al Bridger, British Airways’ Director of Flight Operations, who emphasized the memories the aircraft created.

“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.”

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Accelerated Retirement


It was back in July when the airline announced the plans to retire the 31 aircraft. The acceleration was as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the storage costs that came with it.

All 31 units were not supposed to be retired until 2024 at the latest. CEO Alex Cruz commented last month on the aircraft having to come out of service earlier than expected.

“This is not how we wanted or expected to have to say goodbye to our incredible fleet of 747 aircraft. It is a heartbreaking decision to have to make. (…) They will always hold a special place in our hearts at British Airways.”

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Cost-Cutting Measures


The early retirement of the fleet goes hand-in-hand with some of the other cost-cutting measures BA is currently implementing.

Earlier this month, the airline announced it was halfway through its job-cuts, with 12,000 people in total expected to lose their jobs. Such job cuts are coming under intense scrutiny, especially with CEO Cruz having to appear before the Transport Select Committee next month.

British Airways also announced it would keep its London Heathrow HQ empty to prevent more costs from coming through.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

End of an Era


It remains clear that from tomorrow, BA bids farewell to an aircraft that has been the main thrust of its success. This remains a true fact, especially with the services on offer across the pond with the aircraft during its successful run.

From Los Angeles to New York JFK, the Boeing 747-400 will always remain close to the hearts of those at BA.


Featured Image: G-CIVD, the British Airways Boeing 747-400 which will be the first to be retired. Photo: Wikimedia Commons