British Airways: A380’s back at Heathrow, no goodbye for 747

British Airways has started to reactivate its temporarily stored A380’s. They’d been at Chateauroux in France since they were grounded.

G-XLEI was flown to Heathrow for maintenance on August 15, but is expected to go back to Chateauroux for storage.

G-XLEE went back to Chateauroux on August 15 after maintenance that began on August 12th.

G-XLED came to Heathrow on 9th August and went back to Chateauroux on the 12th.

G-XLEK came over on the 9th August and went back on the 12th.

The process seems clearly to indicate that these short services are keeping the aircraft ready to go back into operation as soon as its viable, and the airline has made up its mind it will keep them.

The A380 has a key role to play at Heathrow, which remains slot constrained at peak times. Not only that but if enough passengers want to fly to major destinations like JFK, when the number of scheduled flights is heavily diminished they make more sense.

BA seems to be taking the longer range view with the A380’s – besides which a write down on accounts for the aircraft which it owns all twelve of, would be massively expensive.

Having withdrawn all 31 of the remaining 744’s, BA have said they will not be carrying out any goodbye flights, which many enthusiasts and crews had really hoped would happen. Virgin Atlantic, which grew up on the 747, has also said it won’t be operating any goodbye flights.

British Airways said:

We are starting the early retirement of our beautiful 747-400s as part of the reshaping of our airline. This is a necessary move reflecting the cliff-edge drop in premium long-haul travel, which may never recover to the levels we saw in 2019. If these were normal times, we would be celebrating the retirement of the Queens of the Skies with a great deal of noise including special commemorative flights and colleague events. Sadly, given the difficulty of operating during the pandemic, the farewell will be less lavish, but still heartfelt.

As G-CIVD leads our remaining 747 fleet into the sunset, I know many of you will join me in fond remembrance of these remarkable aircraft that have served us and our customers so well. There will never again be anything quite like them.

It is typical PR speak but the reasoning is reasonable enough.