British Airways retires its final two 747s with a rare dual take-off

The airline said goodbye to the 'Queen of the Skies' with a synchronised departure from London Heathrow airport

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British Airways has bid farewell to its last remaining 747 jets.

The airline's last two Boeing 747 jumbo jets made their departure from London's Heathrow airport on Thursday morning.

In a rare dual take-off, the jets departed Heathrow shortly after 8.30am, closing a chapter of aviation history for the British airline.

Often described as the 'Queen of the Skies', the Boeing 747 fleet was forced into early retirement because of the impact of the global pandemic on British Airways.

On their last day of service, one of the 747s donned the airline's heritage Negus livery, which was first seen in 1974. The other jet departed London for the last time in the airline's current Chatham Dockyard livery.

British Airways arranged the synchronised dual take-off on parallel runways as a fitting farewell to the jet that ushered in the era of twin-aisle, wide-body passenger planes.

The 747 first entered commercial service in 1970, with British Airways taking delivery of its first jet a year later. It quickly became a passenger favourite. Social media fans of the aircraft marked its departure from service by sharing memories of their time flying on the jet under the hashtag #BA747farewell.

British Airways streamed the take-off live on its Facebook page so that aviation fans from around the world could tune in for the final farewell.

Speaking on Wednesday, Alex Cruz, British Airways’ chairman and chief executive, said: “Tomorrow will be a difficult day for everybody at British Airways as the aircraft leaves our home at Heathrow for the very last time. We will pay tribute to them for the incredible part they have played in our 100-year history and to the millions of customers and BA colleagues who have flown on board and taken care of them."

Several airlines around the world have announced the retirement of their 747 jets due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the aviation industry.

In July, Qantas retired its final 747 jumbo. Departing from Sydney airport, the Australian airline's last "Queen of the Sky"flew in the shape of Qantas' kangaroo logo as a final flourish bringing to an end five decades of flight.