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Aviation: British Airways plans retrojets

There will be several different liveries around London Heathrow Airport (LHR) later this year, as home-carrier British Airways celebrates its 100th anniversary.

Boeing 747-436 G-BYGC will be the first of what the carrier promises will be several "retrojets" with "more details of further designs to be revealed in due course". Expectations are that the Jumbo, painted in BOAC colours, will be rolled out of the paint shop at Dublin Airport on February 18, and will enter service the following day. It will retain its historic colour scheme until it is retired in 2023.

British Airways will paint Boeing 747-436 G-BYGC in BOAC colours. (British Airways)

British Airways can trace its history back to the post-World War One predecessors of Imperial Airways. Following World War Two, two major state owned carriers emerged - BOAC (British Overseas Airways Corporation) was dedicated to long-haul services while BEA (British European Airways) concentrated on European and domestic flights. A merger of BOAC and BEA (which also brought Cambrian Airways and Northeast Airways into the fold) and resulted in the formation of British Airways. Privatisation followed and the firm has since had four major colour schemes and several minor revisions and tweaks.

Alex Cruz, British Airways CEO said: "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.".

Although the airline has not yet made public its plans for additional "retrojets" BEA's "red square" and "speedjack", along with the Landor-designed livery of 1980s and 1990s must be among the favourites. The carrier says that new aircraft, including the Airbus A350-1000s which are due starting later this year, will continue to be painted with the current union flag design.

British Airways has never really embraced the popularity of retrojets until now. That has been despite many of its European cousins - including Aer Lingus, Air France, Alitalia, Austrian Airlines, Iberia, KLM, LOT, Lufthansa, SAS Scandinavian and TAROM - all having applied historic liveries to their jets. One-off designs are typically expensive to design and apply, and the liveries can be difficult to maintain in pristine condition if painted exterior parts need to be replaced. Nevertheless The Aviation Oracle applauds British Airways'decision to recognise its long and illustrious past, and to celebrate its centenary by bringing back some nostalgic looks from the past.

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