British Airways to use Retro Livery on Some of its Planes

As part of its 100th anniversary¹ celebrations, British Airways (BA) has announced it will be painting a Boeing 747 in the much-admired design of its predecessor British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC).

The livery from the 1964 – 1974 BOAC era will adorn a B747, reg: G-BYGC. The aircraft will leave the paint shop in Dublin and arrive in to Heathrow on 18th February and re-enter service the following day. (This nearly coincides with the 50th anniversary of the first Boeing 747 flight only a few days earlier.)

Black & White photo of a BOAC jumbo jet in flight
A BOAC Boeing 747 flying over the UK in April 1971. (Photo by Fox Photos/Hulton Archive/Getty Images, via BA press office).

The BOAC 747 will be the first aircraft to receive a popular design from BA’s past and details of further designs² will be revealed in due course. Aircraft which receive the retro liveries will fly British Airways’ routes, proudly showcasing some of the popular designs as part of the airline’s centenary celebrations.

All new aircraft entering the fleet, including the A350, will continue to be painted in the current ‘Chatham Dockyard’ design.

Alex Cruz, British Airways’ Chairman and CEO, said: “So many British Airways customers and colleagues have fond memories of our previous liveries, regularly sharing their photos from across the globe, so it’s incredibly exciting to be re-introducing this classic BOAC design.”

The 747 has been deliberately chosen for the BOAC livery as it is a later variant of the same aircraft type that adorned the design when it was initially in operation. The BOAC livery will remain on the Boeing 747 until it retires in 2023.


¹ On August 25, 1919, British Airways’ forerunner company, Aircraft Transport and Travel Limited (AT&T), launched the world’s first daily international scheduled air service between London and Paris. Its successor, Daimler Airways, merged with three other airlines in 1924 to form Imperial Airways Limited. Then, in 1935, a number of smaller UK air transport companies merged to form the original privately-owned British Airways Limited, which became Imperial Airways’ principal UK competitor on European routes.

You might ask why BA isn’t therefore waiting till 2035 to celebrate its centenerary!

Following a Government review, Imperial Airways and British Airways were nationalised in 1939 to form British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC).

² It’s possible that other retro livery designs could include Imperial Airways… and British European Airways (BEA), which was combined with BOAC in 1974 to form British Airways.

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