Wrapped in the BOAC retro ‘Gold Speedbird’ livery to mark British Airways’ centenary in 2019, the 747, registration G-BYGC, took to the air for the final time from British Airways’ engineering base at Cardiff Airport.
The aircraft flew around this scenic area of the Welsh coast before landing at the commercial airfield at Bro Tathan, the Welsh Government’s 1,200 acres business park in the Vale of Glamorgan, where it was met by an audience of invited guests. It will be managed by eCube Solutions, the leading aircraft disassembly and end of life services provider based on the business park, to showcase the pre-eminent contribution the 747 fleet made to British Airways, and the love of aviation for the passengers who flew on them.
Since entering the British Airways fleet on 20 January 1999, G-BYGC has operated 11,049 flights and flown for 91,023 hours over nearly 45 million miles. Its last passenger flight was from San Francisco to Heathrow on 4 April 2020.
On board the ceremonial flight were cabin crew member Barbara Christian, a former Miss Wales. Barbara said: “The 747 is an iconic aircraft. It flies beautifully and was a pleasure to serve on, especially the upper deck. My first ever long-haul passenger flight was on a 747 to attend a Miss Universe event in Miami. I remember being awestruck then, and that same feeling has continued throughout my career. It’s lovely to be back in Wales, and an honour and privilege to witness her last ever flight. So this is farewell from one Queen to another.” Originally from Pontypridd, Barbara now lives near Maidenhead.
eCube Solutions Managing Director Peter Dunsford said: “eCube Solutions is delighted to receive the very last British Airways 747. This is a truly iconic aircraft which has a lot of very loyal followers with fond memories and attachments to the aircraft type. As Europe’s leading provider for aircraft end of life services including component removal, disassembly and recycling, we strive to provide both airlines and aircraft owners with maximum value from a retired aircraft. “We can assure everybody that this aircraft will take pride of place at Bro Tathan and continue to be enjoyed for many, many years to come.”
Sean Doyle, British Airways’ CEO, said: “This final 747 journey is a bittersweet moment for the many thousands of British Airways customers and crew who have flown the world on these Queens of the Sky over the last five decades.
“But while we will certainly miss their majestic presence in the skies above, knowing our last 747 will be preserved for future generations to enjoy at a new home in Wales gives us a great sense of pride and is a fitting end to this chapter of British Airways’ history.”
eCube was one of Bro Tathan’s first tenants, and their base provides a unique combination of offerings – access to the south Wales pool of aviation talent, a regulated airfield with permanent Air Traffic Control, a runway which accommodates aircraft of all sizes, easy access to Cardiff, Cardiff airport and the motorway network. This is all supplemented by the backing of the Welsh Government, with the Airfield Development Team and Business Wales supporting the company’s development and projected growth plans.
The retirement of the British Airways 747 fleet has been brought forward several years as a consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic.