BA officially ends 747 ops with three-mile flight!

After nearly five decades of distinguished service with British Airways, this afternoon (December 11) the flag carrier has flown its final Boeing 747.

The 747-400, G-BYGC (c/n 25823), painted in the iconic British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) retro livery, flew from Wales’ Cardiff Airport – where the 21-year-old widebody has been stored since June – to neighbouring St Athan for permanent preservation by eCube Solutions in the Vale of Glamorgan.

With a direct distance between both airfields at just three miles, the jumbo departed the Welsh capital at 1:37pm from Runway 30 before making a left-hand turn to the southeast over the Bristol Channel. Reaching a maximum altitude of 5,800ft at 250kts, it routed towards Weston-super-Mare on the English coast, before heading north, then west, for a final landing on St Athan’s Runway 25 at 1:54pm. Illustrating both airfields proximity, the 747 overflew Cardiff Airport on the final approach to St Athan. According to British Airways, upon G-BYGC’s final landing, the jet was met by “invited guests” including its cabin crew who served on the type.

BOAC 747 [British Airways]
British Airways’ BOAC-themed 747, G-BYGC (c/n 25823), receives a traditional water cannon salute on its final flight. British Airways

In total, G-BYGC – delivered to British Airways on January 20, 1999 – has flown 45 million miles in 91,023 hours over 11,049 flights. Before the pandemic resulted in the airline prematurely retiring the type, G-BYGC’s last fare-paying rotation occurred on April 4, 2020 between San Francisco-London/Heathrow.

Peter Dunsford, eCube Solutions managing director, said: “eCube Solutions is delighted to receive the very last British Airways 747. This iconic aircraft has a lot of very loyal followers with fond memories and attachments to the aircraft type. As Europe’s leading provider for aircraft end of life services including component removal, disassembly and recycling, we strive to provide both airlines and aircraft owners with maximum value from a retired aircraft. We can assure everybody that this aircraft will continue to be utilised and enjoyed in many different ways for many, many years to come.”

This event comes less than a week after another British Airways retro-liveried 747 performed a flight into preservation. On the afternoon of November 5, G-BNLY (c/n 27090), which has the striking Landor scheme applied, departed Cardiff Airport – following storage since June 15 – for Dunsfold Aerodrome, Surrey. During its 36-minute flight, it climbed to 11,000ft with a speed of 275kts.

BA 747 [Mark Boyt (Drone Safe Register) and Ian Shaw (Shawpix)/British Airways]
The Landor-themed jumbo, G-BNLY (c/n 27090), at its new home in Dunsfold, Surrey. Mark Boyt (Drone Safe Register) and Ian Shaw (Shawpix)/British Airways

G-BNLY joins another two former BA jumbos at the Surrey airfield. This comprises -400 example, G-CIVW (c/n 25822) – wearing the standard Chatham Dockyard livery – which arrived on October 22 for use in a film and television role, and a -200, G-BDXB (c/n 21239), resident since 2005, and has  appeared in several movies including James Bond.

Meanwhile, the third retro-themed jumbo, G-CIVB (c/n 25811) – in the Negus livery – was the maiden British Airways 747-400 to be saved. It left London/Heathrow for the last time on October 8 for Cotswold Airport (Kemble) and is expected to be open to the public in the spring of 2021.

Currently, British Airways has just a single retro aircraft left in the fleet. The 143-seat Airbus A319ceo, G-EUPJ (c/n 1232), wears the BEA (British European Airways) colour scheme. The narrowbody has re-entered active service – at the time of writing it was operating a shuttle service to Edinburgh from Heathrow – after briefly being stored in the summer at Bournemouth Airport. Once G-EUPJ is eventually retired (date currently unknown), its unclear if the jet will be saved or sold on.