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Boeing 747: BA’s Queen Of the Skies depart from Heathrow in final flights

The last two British Airways Boeing 747-400 aircraft, designated G-CIVY (front) and G-CIVB prepare for the final flight from Heathrow Airport, London, after the retirement of the airline's 747 fleet was brought forward as a result of the impact the Covid-19 pandemic had on the airline and the aviation sector.

By Ted Hennessey and Luke Powell, PA

British Airways’ last two Heathrow-based Boeing 747 planes have departed from the airport on their final flight.

The jumbo jets left the west London airport shortly after 8.35am on Thursday, as more than 18,000 people watched a livestream of the event on Facebook.

The airline brought forward the retirement of its fleet of 747-400 aircraft due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the aviation sector.

The G-CIVB and G-CIVY 747 models had been due to perform a synchronised dual take-off on parallel runways, but instead departed from the same runway separately.

BA said the G-CIVB model entered service in February 1994 and had flown 59 million miles, while G-CIVY had clocked-up 45 million air miles having first flown in September 1998.

The two aircraft will be flying to Kemble in Gloucestershire and St Athan airfield in south Wales, BA said.

Pete Glass, an air traffic control manager at Heathrow, said: “Saying goodbye has evoked mixed emotions for those of us with a great deal of fondness for The Queen of the Skies.

“It may have been superseded by other aircraft, but she will always be special with her iconic look.”

Mr Glass, who works for the air navigation service provider Nats, added: “And as an air traffic controller at Nats, we have never got bored of watching it roll down the runway.”

Social media users, including former pilots, have also posted their memories of the 747.

Tim Byatt tweeted: “The B747s themselves may be leaving, but the memories will forever remain. She is an absolute delight to fly and I was truly privileged to call her my office.”

Launched in 1969, the 747-400 aircraft were considerably larger than existing airliners, with a capacity of around 550 passengers.

They were known by British Airways as The Queen Of The Skies.

The airline once boasted the world’s largest fleet of the 747-400 model with 31 aircraft.

The 747 fleet is to be replaced by quieter, more fuel-efficient aircraft as part of the airline’s commitment to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

The airline expects the last 747s, currently positioned in Wales, to leave the fleet by the end of the year.