British Airways’ Last Heritage Livery 747 Takes To The Skies

Filed Under: British Airways, Industry News

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 the airline has rolled 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 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.

Then British Airways rolled out a second 747 in a special livery. This had the British Airways Landor design, which the airline had between 1984 and 1997. What’s interesting is that the 747 to feature this design was delivered in 1993, meaning that it’s the second time it got this livery over the course of its life.

Well, today British Airways has rolled out their fourth plane in a special livery, which is also their third 747-400 in a special livery. The plane with the registration code G-CIVB is entering service today. This aircraft will be maintaining this design until it retires in a few years.

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 Cape Town today.

Here are some pictures of this beauty:

This livery is known as British Airways’ Negus design, which was the carrier’s primary livery between 1974 and 1980.

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

“Reintroducing four heritage designs in to our fleet has been an incredibly nostalgic time for us and our customers, we’re impressed at how popular they’ve been.  In our centenary year it’s important that we celebrate our past, and we also have big plans to look to the future. I’m excited about what the rest of this year has in store.”

It’s interesting to note that the Negus livery was the first to carry “British Airways” since 1939. On this plane the Union Flag is not present on the side of the aircraft, bu rather on the tailfin.

Bottom line

As an aviation geek, British Airways is making me very happy with these special livery 747s.

Of the three 747 liveries, this one is probably my least favorite. I love that it’s a throwback to what British Airways used to be, but personally I think the BOAC and Landor designs are more beautiful. And I just can’t get over the lack of capitalization of “airways.” 😉

Which of the three special 747 liveries do you prefer?

  1. Nice! I really like the dominant bright red on the tail in this one. I wish BA would use the BOAC type tail livery for its widebody jets with its iconic speedbird and gorgeous deep navy blue and this tail livery for its narrowbody jets with its distinctive take on the union flag and the unique bright red at the top.

  2. I have to agree, this (to me) is the least ‘wow’ of the four. I didn’t expect to like the A319 but it looks great, as do Landor and BOAC.

    But this one is a bit ‘meh.’

  3. I’m flying from Seattle on Monday on one of BA 747’s… Hopefully on this one… Who knows…

  4. I always had mixed feelings about this livery – I like the tail and the speedbird, but hate the titles: the font, the lowercase letters, and in particular the lowercase “a” in “ Airways”.

  5. I think the BOAC and Negus designs will make a comeback post Brexit. This is exactly the kind of 60’s and 70’s England fetish the Brexiteers go in for. Once BA is back in British hands, and has sold off all of its EU tainted Airbus aircraft, BA can begin scouring the globe for 747-200s for long haul, and BAEs and Vickers for short haul. The Brits are turning back the clock 40 years at the end of this month. These paint jobs are just the beginning!

  6. @CraigTPA

    I too was always bothered by the lower case “a” in “Airways”. What was the point? I could have understood (though I wouldn’t have liked) “british airways”, but why capitalize the “B” but not the “A”?

    By 1980 British Airways also seems to have questioned the wisdom of “airways”. They removed it from the planes, and for the next four years the fleet bore the one-word title ‘British”.

  7. Let’s give credit to the Irish painters of the three British Airways planes. Two painted in Dublin, one in Shannon. We don’t get many 747s in Dublin these days so their unveilings brought the crowds out

  8. Definitely the BOAC livery, followed by the one on the A320, then the Landor one, and finally this last one. You’re right, Ben, the capitalisation irritates me too…

  9. [email protected]

    With that said, whatever happened to contributor James? He made a lot of interesting and different posts and then was GONE! Or perhaps I am just not seeing them.

    Oh and I love ALL of the retro liveries.

  10. The BEA retro livery on the A319 is perfect, especially given the history of BEA. The largest aircraft they ever flew did not have much more capacity than an A320, because BEA were focussed on intra-Europe hops and extending only as far as North Africa and the Middle East.

    My late father would use them frequently in the 1950’s and 60’s commuting between Germany and London and would tell me stories of often turning up and the cabin crew welcoming him to the news that he was the only passenger on the flight that day. BEA was also one of the few airlines which he could use to fly to West Berlin thanks to the delicate arrangements the Allies had in place with Russia around air access to West Berlin.

    He always spoke fondly of them when we would reminisce about his days of early air travel and I’m sure the sight of this retro livery A319 bird would bring a tear to his eye.

  11. I’m old enough to recall BEA Tridents attempting to take off.

    They did, eventually, but that plane was woefully underpowered. All I remember was the screaming engines and the cross-wise nose gear which I thought was weird.

  12. I just happened to be in San Diego on the 12 this month when I looked toward the airport and saw the BOAC livery landing, did a double take as I was not expecting to see it in San Diego. Very cool looking plane!

  13. @Forty2

    Yes! That cross-wise nose gear always looked so WRONG! When a Trident was taxiing towards you it looked as though it might somehow topple-over.

  14. @Lucky
    I am also a huge admirer of the 747 design; but do you really think it is more beautiful then Concorde?

  15. The three retro 744’s are all missing the vertical alignment markings below 4 doors

    on each side of the maindeck which have been applied to every 747 that BA have operated

    until now.

  16. @James – The beginning of a disaster, IMHO.

    I thought that airlines weren’t allowed to fly their planes in liveries other than their official one. BOAC and BEA companies are long long dead and their liveries – especially BEA’s – look so outdated to me.

    Anyway I prefer the Landor design, or a mixing of Landor/Negus, with capitalised B and A. I went to Australia on a Landor-styled 747 back in 1991 and apart for the dowdy food it was a fine flight.

  17. Late reply to an old post, but sadly all but the BOAC are in storage now mostly in Bournemouth. For me, the Landor wins hands down, but I do like the BOAC tail with the speedbird. Just surprised Cruz didn’t order one with “British airlines” painted on it since that’s what he accidentally called his own airline last year.

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