Billionaire Richard Branson calls the Boeing 747 a 'wonderful beast' after the last jumbo jet is delivered but says it was 'too expensive'
Richard Branson described the 747 as a "wonderful beast" as Boeing stopped production of the jets.
Branson told Reuters the 747's daily fuel costs across the Atlantic became too expensive.
Thousands of people gathered on Tuesday to celebrate Boeing delivering its final 747.
Billionaire Richard Branson bid a final goodbye to the Boeing 747 after the last model was delivered on Tuesday.
The 747, also known as the Queen of the Skies, "gave America and Boeing the leadership role in aviation," Branson said in an interview with Reuters, published Tuesday.
"So farewell to a wonderful beast," Branson told Reuters.
Boeing delivered its final 747 on Tuesday to cargo giant Atlas Air, marking the end of a 52-year era of air travel for the iconic plane. The 747 has not only been used for commercial airline travel but also spaceflight with Branson's Virgin Orbit.
"It's okay for the occasional mission for space but the fuel costs flying daily backwards and forwards across the Atlantic are just too expensive now," Branson told Reuters.
Thousands of people, including Boeing employees who built the first 747 in 1960, gathered on Tuesday at the Everett factory in Washington to celebrate the last delivery of the jumbo jet, per a company press release.
The first 747 flew for Pan Am in 1970. Branson's Virgin Atlantic flew its first aircraft, a Boeing 747 called Maiden Voyager, in 1984. Since then, the plane has flown for various carriers, including Lufthansa.
Over time, airlines have turned towards more cost-efficient planes like the Airbus A350 and the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
Virgin Orbit, Branson's satellite launch service, uses a Boeing 747 called Cosmic Girl to carry the company's LauncherOne rocket into the skies. When the plane reaches 35,000 feet in altitude, the pilots in Cosmic Girl release LauncherOne, triggering its engines to fire up and blast the rocket into space.
Insider attended the UK's first orbital space launch carried out by Virgin Orbit at Spaceport Cornwall. The mission didn't go to plan because the rocket failed to reach orbit and deliver nine satellites because of a technical anomaly.
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