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As British Airways was created from the merger of British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) and British European Airways, 15 Boeing 747s joined the newly-formed company’s fleet.

[ British Airways]

Interior shot of a BOAC Boeing 747

[ British Airways]

Following the merger of BOAC and BEA, British Airways introduced itself to the world with the Negus livery. "It featured a streamlined evolution of the BOAC and BEA insignia by way of a quartered Union Flag with a red tip on the tailfin and the Speedbird symbol on the nose," the airline described the livery, which was finally retired in 1984.

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In the 1980s, British Airways navigated turbulent skies. From receiving its first Boeing 747 freighter only to sell it two years later to Cathay Pacific due to an economic recession, to launching the "World's favorite airline" campaign and the introduction of its Landor livery, the 1980s were one helluva ride for the British carrier.

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If the 1980s were a wild ride, the last decade of the 20th century was when British Airways' Boeing 747s passed its peak. In 1992, as a part of a Boeing 777 order, British Airways ordered a further 24 Boeing 747s. This would be the last order for the Boeing 747 that British Airways made. In 1998, when the airline ordered a further 16 Triple Sevens, it canceled five firm and seven options for the Queen of the Skies.

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But the Queen would not go out without a bang. In 1993, the British company opened its British Asia Airways subsidiary. The Asia-based airline would only operate Boeing 747s, with a specifically designed livery. 

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In 1998, British Airways introduced its World Images liveries, to "reflect the best of British values blended with the nation’s more modern attributes – it is friendly, youthful, diverse and cosmopolitan outlook which is open to many cultures." The liveries also replaced the out-going Landon livery, which was now replaced by the current British Airways colors known as Chatham Dockyard.

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Unfortunately, the rich history ended much sooner than expected, as the current demand for international travel simply does not warrant the usage of 747s. A switch to more economical aircraft, like the Airbus A350 and the Boeing 787, makes much more sense, according to the airline.

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Farewell, Queen of the Skies.

[ British Airways]