British Airways World Cargo has just taken delivery – through cargo wet-lease specialist Atlas Air – of its first Boeing 747-8F freighter.
Based at London Stansted, the 747-8F is due to enter service on Tuesday (8 November).
Unlike the 747-400Fs Atlas has previously operated on wet-lease for BA, this aircraft is in the airline’s full “Union Flag” colour scheme – and looks fabulous. (The purists will point out that one Atlas 747-400F did briefly appear in BA colours, but this was the Utopia scheme with the “Chelsea Rose” tail colours.)
The red, white and blue 747-8F brings back memories of the airline’s brief dalliance with the 747 freighter variant in the early 1980s. BA took delivery of a single 747-200F “G-KILO” (pictured below by Kevin Colbran/Air Britain) from Seattle, which was named “British Trader”.
In those days things were slightly different at BA’s cargo division though. G-KILO was integrated into the airline’s large 747-100/200 passenger fleet, and the flightcrews expected a seamless service whether they were flying freight or “self-loading cargo” (ie passengers). So each cargo flight operated with a stewardess on board to ensure the flightdeck team had the service they were used to on the passenger flights – coffees, teas, meals and that legendary cheese board!
So perhaps it was no wonder that the economics of BA’s single 747-200F operation didn’t work out, and the aircraft was disposed of fairly pronto to Cathay Pacific?