Retro Chic: British Airways Landor 747 Takes To The Skies

Filed Under: British Airways

British Airways is celebrating their 100th anniversary this year (or more accurately 100 years since the founding of Aircraft Transport and Travel Limited, which eventually became British Airways), and to celebrate that the airline will be rolling out four planes in retro liveries.

The first plane that British Airways rolled out in a special livery was a 747-400 with the British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) livery. This was the standard livery in the BOAC fleet between 1964 and 1974.

This is possibly my favorite livery on any plane ever. Seriously, how stunning is this?

Then last week British Airways rolled out an A319 in the British European Airways livery, which was active from 1959 through 1968. While still beautiful, I just can’t get as excited about a special livery A319 as I can about a special livery 747. To me the 747 will always be the most beautiful plane to grace the skies.

Today British Airways rolled out their third plane in a special livery, which is also their second 747-400 in a special livery. The plane with the registration code G-BNLY is entering service today. This aircraft will be maintaining this design until it retires in 2023.

You can track this exact plane here, to see if your flight will be operated by it. It looks like the plane is enroute to Miami today (I’d go to the airport and plane spot, though I’m guessing a Saturday evening trip to the airport is roughly the last way Ford wants us to spend our weekend).

Here are some pictures of this beauty:

This livery is known as British Airways’ Landor design, which was the carrier’s primary livery between 1984 and 1997. It’s also perhaps interesting to note that this particular plane joined the British Airways fleet in 1993, so when the plane first entered service it had exactly this livery.

British Airways CEO Alex Cruz had the following to say about this plane:

“The Landor livery is one of our most famous designs, and many will remember seeing it in the skies at some point in their lives. Introducing these liveried aircraft has been a huge honour, and we’re excited to reveal details of the final design soon.”

Bottom line

As an aviation geek, British Airways is making me very happy with these special livery 747s. I love both the BOAC and Landor designs for different reasons.

I think the BOAC design is timeless, and looks as good today as it did decades ago. Meanwhile the Landor design is decidedly retro, so it’s cool to see a crisp 747 once again featuring this livery.

Which of the two special 747 liveries do you prefer?

  1. Interesting, when the aircraft (G-BNLY) was first delivered to BA it was in the Landor Livery. So it went from Landor to current BA then back to Landor!

  2. Looking at my Instagram this morning was like I’d travelled back in time overnight to 1989.

    Looks great. But also makes me sad. When BA flew with the Landor livery they were the premier airline in the world. Those days are gone.

  3. “This livery is known as British Airways’ Landor design”…

    Actually, in the design world it was known as the “flying fag packet” design, because of the design similarities to a box of Benson & Hedges cigarettes (in British English, “fag” is a colloquialism meaning “cigarette”).

    I think it’s pretty mediocre design work – inferior to the classic BOAC, and also inferior to the current Chatham Dockyard design. Yesterday afternoon I was walking down a long corridor in SCL towards a distant gate where my BA 787 was waiting; it looked utterly fabulous in the low sunlight, that rippling flag seemingly full of energy.

  4. I hope the other 747 in special livery goes to MIA so you could complete the Beatles Lyric “Flew in from Miami Beach BOAC…”

  5. Interestingly, it appears as though G-BNLY never had a “World Tails” logo. Or, more accurately, its World Tails scheme was the Chatham Dockyard scheme that eventually became the livery for the entire fleet. Wonder if that was intentional.

  6. Warning – humble brag immediately ahead:-)
    The Landor livery is spectacular, and and definitely my favorite since our first flight on British Airways was on Concorde G-BOAC resplendent in Landor Livery in 1997.

  7. I hope their next livery for their entire fleet is amazing. Their current one is just okay compared to their predecessors.

  8. But wait there is apparently one more retro paint 747 to be released — this one in what is referred to as the Negus & Negus livery which was introduced in 1974 when BOAC and BEA merged.
    What a way for an airline to celebrate its history!

  9. When BA used this livery they were the ‘world’s favourite airline’ and with good reason, fares were good and on board products cutting edge.

    One irony is that this aircraft still has the same Club World on board it had on delivery and no doubt it will leave service with the same seats so you might say in addition to the livery it has a retro cabin fit out because all they’ve done is tweak first and tighten the pitch in economy.

    I agree with the comments above, Chatham Dockyard is a travesty of a design on a once proud airline but then maybe the nastiness and cheapness of it reflects BA today accurately.

  10. BA should have kept this livery far longer. To me this is pure Britishness. The dark blue, grey and appropriate use of red, the coat of arms, it has a deep thoughtful branding design. The current livery looks too casual for my taste.

  11. @Will

    You didn’t finish! 😉

    Flew in from Miami Beach BOAC
    Didn’t get to bed last night
    On the way the paper bag was on my knee
    Man, I had a dreadful flight

  12. As many have commented, when BA was flying this livery in the late 90s (and a little beyond while they repainted the fleet), they were arguably the best airline in the world. They were certainly the most innovative in the world. Now, they are one the least innovative airlines in the world, and a large percentage of their late 90s aircraft haven’t been retrofitted at all in Y or J. Sad…

  13. It is worth highlighting the best element of the BOAC livery, the fabulous avant-garde Speedbird logo on the tail that was inherited from Imperial Airways.

  14. OMG yes LOVE the Landor livery.

    Happy memories of my childhood and first falling in love with planes, the romance of air travel, etc.

  15. The Landor design is more majestic imo. More British than the incorporation of the Thailand flag on their tail fins

  16. @Phil Duncan – this is a very misleading comment “One irony is that this aircraft still has the same Club World on board it had on delivery and no doubt it will leave service with the same seats”

    So ummm NO! The lie flat Club World seat made its debut in 2000, and the “mid-life refresh” (haha) in 2006, so would love to hear how its the same seat as at delivery.

  17. A better idea would have been to spend the money on the inside of the 747s! The inside condition of the 747s they fly from Las Vegas to LHR are a disgrace!

  18. Landor is my absolute favorite but BOAC is pretty damn great. Would’ve been amazing to see BEA on a 744 as that is also a great livery. Has the fourth livery been confirmed??

  19. As ex crew of some 17 years……..I’m still at a loss as to how these magnificent aircraft get off the ground.

  20. I appreciated the change from this at the time, and I frankly was very sad when Newell & Sorrels Utopia liveries were discontinued and rolled back to just the Chatham Dockyard, as it was an ambitious branding project for an airline that was looking out the world and truly trying to be “the worlds favourite airline” with clear message at its heart. The BA we have now is greatly diminished and feels quite insular and small village, in that sense the rolling back to Chatham Dockyard is almost an allegory for Britains recent history…

    I am very sentimental about this Landor livery though as it was a livery I recognised and travelled on as a child when visiting relatives in Bangladesh when BA still flew to DAC. There was almost something serene and civil yet also alien when this pulled into that airport amongst the dusty heat and myriad of messy liveries of that region in those days…

  21. @ Phil Duncan and Jordan…

    You’ll no doubt enjoy reading How British Airways created the world’s first business class bed.

    Really looking forward to seeing & hopefully getting to fly on the Landor B747 – this is the British Airways that we remember growing up and for us this will be the most exciting to see! Also love that BA are using heritage idents on the departure screens for flights operated by the retrojets when departing Heathrow.

  22. @ Jetset Boyz

    Thanks for the link. It captures well just how revolutionary the CW concept was.

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