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Livery of the Week: British Airways’ Centenary Retro Designs

The airline introduced four retro liveries as part of its 2019 100th anniversary celebration.

The line-up of British Airways retro liveries in 2019 (Photo: British Airways)

Editor’s Note: AirlineGeeks is excited to launch our ‘Livery of the Week’ series. Every Friday, a team member will share an airline livery, which can be from the past, present, or even a special scheme. Some airline liveries are works of art. The complexity associated with painting around critical flight components and the added weight requires outside-the-box thinking from designers. The average airliner can cost upwards of $200,000 to repaint, creating a separate aircraft repainting industry as a result. 

Have an idea for a livery that we should highlight? Drop us a line

In 2019, British Airways celebrated its 100th anniversary with a unique and nostalgic tribute, adorning three of its Boeing 747-400s in retro liveries that spanned its broad history. These now-retired aircraft were each emblazoned with a distinct chapter of the airline’s past.


This iconic navy blue livery, with its bold cheatline and golden “Speedbird” logo, represented the British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC), a predecessor to British Airways. It symbolized a time of glamour, jet-setting, and pioneering spirit when BOAC dominated the skies with its fleet of 747-100s and BAC VC-10 aircraft among others.

British Airways’ BOAC retro livery 747 at Washington Dulles International Airport (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Ben Suskind)

BOAC was dissolved in 1974 and folded into the British Airways brand. The carrier resurrected the livery on G-BYGC.


Named after Negus and Negus, which was the design agency that created the livery to combine elements of both BEA and BOAC’s identity, this livery marked a new era for British Airways. The understated red, white, and blue stripes reflected a more unified design concept for the newly combined carrier.

The British Airways Negus 747 seen inflight prior to being grounded as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | William Derrickson)

This livery would adorn British Airways aircraft from 1974 to 1980. The 2019 retro livery was on G-CIVB.


The Landor livery, designed by the renowned San Francisco design firm Landor Associates, ushered in a period of modernization and expansion for British Airways. Its bold red and blue lines, along with the stylized “British Airways” typeface, embodied an early 1980s version of British Airways.

Landor retro livery (Photo: Karam Sodhi)

The British flag carrier updated its livery again in 1997, putting an end to the regular use of the Landor design. The centenary retro livery was placed on G-BNLY.


While not a 747, the Airbus A319 adorned in the British European Airways (BEA) livery completed the quartet. With its vibrant grey, white, and blue design and stylized BEA logo, it recalls a time of shorter flights within Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East.

British Airways shows off its BEA retro livery on an Airbus A319 (Photo: British Airways)

Similar to BOAC, BEA was folded into British Airways in 1974. It no longer flies, either, as it was placed in storage in November 2022, according to planespotters.net.

These retro liveries weren’t just a nostalgic nod to the past; they were a celebration of British Airways’ century-long evolution and enduring legacy. They captured the imagination of aviation enthusiasts and casual travelers alike.

Unfortunately, with the retirement of the 747 from British Airways’ fleet as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, these liveries became relics themselves. While they no longer fly, the three 747s can still be seen on the ground in various locations. Both the Negus and Landor designs were recently repurposed as filming sets and event spaces.

Looking for a new airplane model? Head over to our friends at the Midwest Model Store for a wide selection of airlines and liveries.

Ryan Ewing
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  • Ryan Ewing

    Ryan founded AirlineGeeks.com back in February 2013 and has amassed considerable experience in the aviation sector. His work has been featured in several publications and news outlets, including CNN, WJLA, CNET, and Business Insider. During his time in the industry, he's worked in roles pertaining to airport/airline operations while holding a B.S. in Air Transportation Management from Arizona State University along with an MBA. Ryan has experience in several facets of the industry from behind the yoke of a Cessna 172 to interviewing airline industry executives. Ryan works for AirlineGeeks' owner FLYING Media, spearheading coverage in the commercial aviation space.

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