LONDON - British Airways will retire all of its Boeing 747s due to the travel downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Britain's flag carrier has announced this morning that its 31 Boeing 747s are to be retired due to falling demand in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.

“It is with great sadness that we can confirm we are proposing to retire our entire 747 fleet with immediate effect,” a spokesman said.

"It is unlikely our magnificent 'queen of the skies' will ever operate commercial services for British Airways again due to the downturn in travel caused by the Covid-19 global pandemic.

"While the aircraft will always have a special place in our heart, as we head into the future we will be operating more flights on modern, fuel-efficient aircraft such as our new A350s and 787s, to help us achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050."

The airline has used the craft since July 1989 and is currently the world's biggest operator of the 747-400 model.

Hundreds of BA ground staff face redundancy as the airline slashes costs in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

UK airlines have struggled to cope with the collapse in demand caused by the coronavirus crisis, with easyJet, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic all announcing job cuts and reduced operations.

Meanwhile, demand for air travel will take longer to return to pre-pandemic levels than initially expected, according to the latest industry forecast.

Trade body ACI Europe, which represents European airports, said it does not expect passenger numbers to recover until 2024, one year later than it predicted in May.