British Airways has unveiled the second of its retrospective liveries to mark its centenary year, an Airbus A319 aircraft in a British European Airways livery.
The aircraft, registration G-EUPJ, returned to London Heathrow this morning having been repainted in Shannon over the past week.
About British European Airways
British European Airways (BEA) was, along with British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC), one of the two immediate predecessor airlines to BA.
BEA was formed in 1946. It was initially a division of BOAC and initially took over services previously operated by the RAF from Croydon Airport to mainland Europe.
The first passenger flight to operate in its own right is believed to have operated at 08:40 on 1 August 1946 from Northolt to Marseille, Rome and Athens. In 1954, the airline had transferred operations to what is now known as Heathrow. It progressively built up an extensive UK domestic and European network.
The airline operated a wide variety of aircraft including the Airspeed AS 57 Ambassador, BAC One-Eleven, de Havilland DH 106 Comet 4B and Vickers Viscount series – a far cry from the streamlined, and much larger, Airbus A320 workhouse of European short-haul travel today.
BEA was also known for its “Silver Wing” flagship service. Lunchtime flights from London to Paris were deliberately slowed down so passengers could enjoy a leisurely meal and champagne, something today’s passengers could only dream of.
There were moments of tragedy in its history, most notably the Munich air disaster. On 6 February 1958, a charter BEA Flight 609 crashed on its third attempt to take off from a slush-covered runway at Munich-Riem airport. On board the aircraft was the Manchester United football team along with a number of supporters and journalists. 23 of the 44 passengers on board the aircraft died.
The next aircraft to be painted in a retrospective livery is a Boeing 747, registration G-BNLY, which is currently being painted in the Landor Associates livery.