British Airways begins service of 747 in BOAC livery

British Airways

On February 19, 2019, British Airways operated the flight BA117 from London Heathrow to New York JFK, using a Boeing 747 painted in a special British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) livery. Why would an airline change its livery to another company’s, one might ask.  Well, the answer lies at its roots.

British Airways Boeing 747 is painted in BOAC livery used between 1964 and 1974. The livery will remain on the 747 until its retirement in 2023, “to allow as many customers as possible to have the chance to see it,” the company claims.


Although the oldest still operating airline in the world is considered to be Dutch airline KLM, turning 100 this year, many modern airlines can trace their roots a century back. One of them is British Airways (BA), which is tracing its DNA to 1919 and using the opportunity to celebrate its heritage with British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC).

Image: British Airways

Established three years earlier, on August 25, 1919, United Kingdom Aircraft Transport and Travel airline started its services – the first in the world daily international scheduled air service between London and Paris, according to BA. Fast Forward a couple of years and it was merged with Daimler Airway, which, in turn, became part of Imperial Airways in 1924.

A decade later, another company – British Airways Limited – followed similar path of merging UK’s smaller air travel companies to become the main UK competitor of Imperial Airways on European routes. Both airlines were nationalized by the government in 1939 and formed  British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC), which, together with BAE, became “the principal British operators of scheduled international passenger and cargo services”. The two operators “preserved Britain’s pioneering role in the [aviation] industry”, according to BA. However, it was not until 1974 when the two were combined together and formed British Airways.

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