A man in his own thoughts walks past a retired Boeing 747

5 April 2021

The changing impact of carbon emissions with British Airways retiring its 747s for Atlantic flights

Cross Atlantic flights have changed for good. Traffic is down but what does it mean when there are no more 747s making the journey?

Before the pandemic, the London to New York route was notoriously busy with up to 20 daily flights served by British Airways, Delta, Virgin, United Airlines and American spread across a variety of aircraft types.

British Airways sent its long haul work-horse, the 747-400 across the Atlantic 5 times a day. Now, the 747-400 is a pretty old aircraft and was one of the last remaining 4 engine planes to fly this particular route.

As the pandemic wore on British Airways decided to retire its entire 747 fleet. Each of the remaining 36 aircraft would never see scheduled service again. The silver-lining for this move is that environmentally kinder aircraft are now flying the route.

Carbon Comparison

LON London
NYC New York
  1. JETBLUEAirbus A321 neo~945 kg CO2

  2. Virgin AtlanticAirbus A350-1000~1175 kg CO2

  3. UNITEDBoeing 767-300~1288 kg CO2

  4. BRITISH AIRWAYSBoeing 777-300ER~1368 kg CO2

  5. BRITISH AIRWAYSBoeing 777-200ER~1444 kg CO2

  6. BRITISH AIRWAYSBoeing 747-400~1599 kg CO2

Right now there are far fewer flights flying between London and New York (3 compared with 20 pre-pandemic ). This will of course change once air travel truly opens up again but even when it does, it will look different.

It’s interesting to consider that the pandemic has brought about the biggest retirement of older planes the world has possibly ever seen, and thus forced airlines to put much newer and more environmentally friendly aircraft on those routes, but just how much kinder are the other planes that fly this route, we take a look.

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