British Airway is giving one of its Boeing 747’s a 1960’s-era paint scheme

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British Airways will paint one of its Boeing 747-400’s in a retro livery that dates to the 1960’s – part of an effort to commemorate its 100th birthday.

The company also revealed plans to paint other planes in vintage schemes, but – for now – would say only that “more details of further designs (would) be revealed in due course.”

The 747 due to get the first makeover will be painted in the “much-admired design” of British Airways’ predecessor company, British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC). The BOAC paint scheme being applied to the plane was in use from 1964 through 1974.

The aircraft – registration number G-BYGC – is expected to leave a Dublin, Ireland, paint shop with its new look on Feb. 18. The jet will then enter service a day later, with British Airways noting “this coincides with the 50th anniversary of the first Boeing 747 flight only a few days earlier.”

This photo from April 7, 1971, shows a Boeing 747 of British Airways predecessor BOAC (British Overseas Airways Corporation) flying above the United Kingdom.
This photo from April 7, 1971, shows a Boeing 747 of British Airways predecessor BOAC (British Overseas Airways Corporation) flying above the United Kingdom.

All new aircraft entering the carrier’s fleet will continue to get British Airways’ current design, but CEO Alex Cruz said applying the retro liveries to some existing aircraft was a way to acknowledge the airline’s storied history.

“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,” he said in a statement, referring to the 747 set to receive the BOAC scheme. “Our history has shaped who we are today, so our centenary is the perfect moment to revisit our heritage and the UK’s aviation landscape through this iconic livery.”

British Airways says that 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 jet will fly with the retro livery until 2023, when it is slated for retirement as part of British Airways’ broader effort to phase the 747 out of its fleet. The airline has about three dozen 747s now, but all are expected to be retired by early 2024

The airline says the 747s are being replaced “with new state-of-the-art long-haul aircraft. This includes taking delivery of 18 A350s and 12 Boeing 787 Dreamliners in the next four year.”

As for British Airways’ centennial celebration, the company traces its history back to 1919, when “forerunner company, Aircraft Transport and Travel Limited (AT&T), launched the world’s first daily international scheduled air service between London and Paris.”


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