British Airways has officially said farewell to its final Boeing 747s at London Heathrow on Thursday, with poor weather conditions unfortunately impacting a planned rare double take-off.
As previously reported, the airline had planned a farewell fit for a Queen, including a rare dual take-off of the two final 747s, which would have seen the planes barrel down parallel runways simultaneously.
Unfortunately, cloud cover and driving rain meant the dual take-off was impossible, and both aircraft ended up departing from runway 27R.
First to take-off was G-CIVB, which took flight for the final time at 8:40am local time, headed for Kemble Cotswold Airport in Gloucestershire. It landed safely in Kemble at 10:11am local time.
G-CIVB was followed shortly by G-CIVY, which performed a circle-back and a low pass back towards the runway, as a final goodbye to the airport that it has called home for over two decades.
G-CIVY then headed to St Athan in Wales, landing 51 minutes after departure at 9:31am local time. Sadly, here is where she is due to be scrapped.
Meanwhile, there are rumours that G-CIVB which sports the centenary retro Negus livery, may in fact be saved and preserved at its destination – Cotswold Airport. This has not yet been confirmed.
Chief executive Alex Cruz said it was “a difficult day for everybody at British Airways as the aircraft leaves our home at Heathrow for the very last time”.
British Airways was once the world’s largest operator of the 747, and has flown the jumbo jet out of Heathrow for over 50 years. The 747 is known to have democratised air travel for the masses, and holds a special place in the hearts of many.
However, a lot has changed in the last five decades, and the Queen of the Skies can no longer compete with her smaller, more fuel-efficient twin-engine successors.
Compounded with the COVID-19 crisis, which saw international travel demand grind to a halt, British Airways was forced to say goodbye to its iconic 747s four years ahead of their planned retirement in 2024.
I could not work out why G-CIVB took so long to fly from London Heathrow to Kemble Cotswold Airport. So I searched for the flight on FlightRadar24 and saw that it made numerous oval circuits at 7000 feet east of Cirencester, before finally landing. Perhaps the aircraft (or crew) just did not want to land for the final time.
As a former travel agent I remember the 747 coming into service at Heathrow and was amongst a group of agents invited to lhr to view one. I worked in the “business department” of a company called Plantravel in Sidcup. Later I flew in several through the
following years – it was the only aircraft I felt safe in. I also remember BOAC and BEA merging to become BA. Those were amazing days when world wide travel became available to most. Anyone remember working out the air fares and fitting stopovers into the mileage from commencement to end of journey, and backhauls!!! We were travel agents then not brochure sellers!