British Airways is to retire all of its Boeing 747s as a result of the sharp travel downturn globally, with immediate effect rather than waiting until 2024 as previously planned.

BA is the world’s largest operator of the jumbo jets, having 31 in the fleet which is around 10% of its fleet, and says it is unlikely the 747 will ever fly commercially again.

More than 300 fly cargo and around 250 are in storage.

The first aeroplane to be dubbed a “jumbo jet”, the Boeing 747 started flying in February 1969, helped democratise global air travel in the 1970s, and marked its 50-year flying anniversary in February last year.

Up to 12,000 BA staff, including pilots cabin crew, engineers and ground staff are facing redundancy in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

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