British Airways announces retro liveries for 100th anniversary

A BOAC Boeing 747-136 landing at London Heathrow. Photo: © Richard Vandervord

UK flag carrier British Airways has announced that it will be painting a number of aircraft in former ‘retro’ liveries to celebrate its 100th anniversary.

First confirmed aircraft and livery

The official announcement comes after weeks of rumours that multiple British Airways Boeing 747-400 aircraft will be repainted into retro liveries to commemorate the airline’s 100th birthday in 2019. So far, the airline has only confirmed the first aircraft, a Boeing 747-436, in BOAC colours. The airframe to be painted will be G-BYGC, which was delivered to BA on 19th January 1999. The first commercial flight the aircraft will take in its new colour scheme will be from London Heathrow on 18th February, however the route is yet to be confirmed. IAC Ltd in Dublin, Ireland will paint the aircraft in the coming weeks. The Boeing 747 will retain the retro livery until its scheduled retirement from service in 2023.

British Airways has confirmed that other aircraft will receive retro liveries as well, but says that any specific plans would be announced in the coming months. It has also confirmed that its first new Airbus A350-1000 will be delivered in the current Chatham Dockyard livery.


British Airways’ 100-year history started in 1919 with Air Transport & Travel Ltd., which was bought out by Daimler Airway in 1920, which in turn was amalgamated into Imperial Airways in 1924. In 1939, Imperial Airways merged into British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC), the direct forerunner to the British Airways name.

British Airways itself was formed in 1974 as a result of the merger of BOAC and British European Airways (BEA). BOAC was an initial customer for the Boeing 747 when it was first introduced. The BOAC logo was one of the many airlines logos painted on the nose of the first ever 747 prototype, RA001, at the rollout ceremony in Everett, Washington in 1969. BOAC’s first 747 was the 23rd ever built, and was delivered on 22nd April 1970.

A British Airways Boeing 747-136 in hybrid BOAC/BA colours after the merger in 1976. Photo: © Eduard Marmet

British Airways’ 100th anniversary also coincides with the 50th anniversary of the Boeing 747. It is a fitting tribute given that BOAC was a 747 launch customer, and British Airways still operates the largest fleet of the type today with 35 active airframes.

Read more: British Airways retires last Boeing 767