Bloomberg analyzes the reasons that British Airways continues to invest in its Boeing 747 fleet when everyone else is retiring the model:
A clue to BA’s lingering love affair with the 747 lies in the model’s ability to eke out capacity from scarce operating slots at its London Heathrow hub at a time when lower fuel prices make retaining older planes an option. The revamped jets, the first of which returns next month from a refit center in Cardiff, Wales, will also get 16 extra business-class seats, aiding deployment on lucrative trans-Atlantic services.
“It makes hard business sense,” JLS Consulting Director John Strickland said. “These aircraft have a lot of life in them and can be used in very effective commercial ways. Given the capacity constraints at Heathrow and the high demand they have on certain routes, it’s still a very good model.”
The four-engine planes suck up a lot of fuel, however. Lower fuel prices have helped, but really the motivation seems to be capacity limitations at Heathrow.