British Airways this weekend retired the last of three original Boeing 777s from its fleet. The aircraft were some of the oldest Boeing 777s in service. However, as airlines look to a cleaner and greener future, older and less efficient aircraft are being cut.
Around the globe, many older aircraft have been retired following a significant drop in passenger demand worldwide. While four-engined giants such as the Boeing 747 seem to have taken the brunt of the blow, some Boeing 777s are also being retired. However, the retirement of British Airways’ oldest Boeing 777s had been decided before the current crisis.
At the weekend, G-ZZZB became the last of British Airways’ original Boeing 777 aircraft to fly to the scrapyard. On Saturday, the plane flew to St Athan. Here it will be torn apart and recycled or upcycled where possible.
G-ZZZB’s final flight saw it depart from London Heathrow at 09:35, according to data from FlightRadar24.com. The aircraft, operating as BA9178, departed from Terminal 5, before taxing to the northern runway. Following a westbound takeoff from Runway 27R, the aircraft climbed to the west, reaching a maximum height of 13,000 feet.
After an eight-minute cruise, the aircraft began its final descent, dropping down to 2,500 feet before stating its final approach. At 10:09, just 35 minutes after its departure, the plane touched down one last time on St Athan’s Runway 08.
In St Athan, the aircraft will join several other aircraft being decommissioned, including a Virgin Atlantic Boeing 747. The aircraft’s sister, G-ZZZA, flew out to St Athan on August 20th. Meanwhile, G-ZZZC, British Airways’ first Boeing 777, and the 10th to be built, flew to St Athan on January 13th.
The retirement of these oldest Boeing 777s had already been planned before the current crisis. IAG mentioned these retirements during its Capital Market Day presentation last November.
However, the current situation has meant that the airline has reshuffled its fleet retirement and growth plans to rightsize for the expected demand over the coming years. This has seen the immediate retirement of the airline’s remaining Boeing 747 aircraft, for example.
The future for British Airways is a young and efficient fleet, comprised mainly of twin-engine aircraft. The airline is currently in the process of accepting new Airbus A350 and Boeing 787-10 aircraft.
An order of Boeing 777X aircraft is also en route to the British Airways fleet. When exactly it will arrive, however, is another question. In November, British Airways indicated that its 777X deliveries should take place between 2022 and 2025. However, Boeing recently revised the first 777X delivery to 2022. At the start of August IAG and declined to comment on whether the first 777X would be delayed.