The Boeing 747 is going to be a fixture at BA until February 2024.
At present, there are 36 aircraft in service, all at London Heathrow. However, there are very sharp differences between aircraft in the fleet.
Refurbished 86 Club World Seat Aircraft
18 of these aircraft operate with 86 Club World seats.
These regularly operate on routes such as Austin, Chicago O’Hare, Dallas Fort Worth, Lagos, Los Angeles, New York JFK, Philadelphia and San Francisco. These were refurbished in 2015 with new carpets, seat covers, and cabin lighting.
The in-flight entertainment system was replaced with new screens, a more responsive interface and more content, as well as USB power ports.
It is likely that these will be amongst the last be retired.
Non-Refurbished 52 Club World Seat Aircraft
Another 18 aircraft operate with 52 Club World seats, with the World Traveller Plus cabin positioned between First and Club World.
They regularly operate on routes such as Accra, Cape Town, Denver, Las Vegas, Miami, Nairobi, Phoenix and Vancouver. Many of these aircraft are expected to be retired over the next couple of years.
The state of these aircraft could not be more different. The World Traveller and World Traveller Plus cabins are nearly 20 years old. The last significant upgrade was the installation of an on demand in-flight entertainment system in 2006.
2018 Boeing 747 Refurbishment Programme
The refurbishment plans for the 52 Club World seat Boeing 747 aircraft are more ambiguous.
Some won’t be refurbished due to imminent retirement.
The last published fleet plan by BA’s parent company shows that 2 aircraft will be retired in 2018 and a further 3 in 2019.
Some aircraft have already had a minor “refresh” with a deep clean and new seat covers in World Traveller and World Traveller Plus, but no new in-flight entertainment system.
BA has however been planning to carry out a more substantial refurbishment to some aircraft.
The first aircraft to receive a full refurbishment, G-CIVO, was sent to BA’s maintenance base on Cardiff on 7 September 2018.
It returned to Heathrow on Thursday 11 October 2018 and is expected to enter service imminently.
It has been refurbished in line with the 86 Club World seat Boeing 747s with a new in-flight entertainment system with larger screens, new seat covers, carpets and cabin lighting. BA has not yet released press images of the refurbished aircraft. However, these are expected early next week.
It is not possible to predict exactly on which routes refurbished aircraft will operate. However, as non-refurbished aircraft are retired and those that remain are refurbished, the chances are greater.
An update on BA’s fleet plans is expected at the Capital Markets Day of its parent company International Airlines Group in November.