British Airways decision to retire 747 fleet is expected with increased efficiencies of more modern platforms

Following the news that British Airways is retiring its entire 747 fleet, Anthony Endresen, Aerospace and Defense Analyst at GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company, offers his view:

“British Airways decision to retire its 747 fleet earlier than expected is not that surprising given the significantly reduced passenger market landscape and the increased efficiencies of operating fleets of more modern platforms such as the Airbus A350. This decision is simply a case of bringing forward what was always a pending retirement, rather than the collapsed passenger market being the cause of the move.

“Most cancellations, deferrals and retirements will currently be ascribed to COVID-19, whereas in this instance, it is mostly a case of the timeline being changed. The aspect that is in fact COVID-19 driven is the question of platform and service types that will replace the 747, as the market has not just contracted, but has in fact changed. The outlook for the commercial aviation market recovery means increased efficiencies will be sought, with fuller flights and potentially leaner services. These characteristics, and the historical pattern of single aisle platform market segments returning faster after crises, point to the timely introduction of alternative aircraft and aircraft types. “GlobalData’s recent poll points to this being part of a complex pattern with segment nuances, with 41% of respondents anticipating the leaner market in fact seeing older models’ service lives being extended. This poll did not differentiate specific aircraft models, with life extension being more likely in single aisle types.”

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