This article was first published in the summer of 2019 as part of a 100 part series on the history of British Airways and its predecessor airlines, Imperial Airways, BOAC and BEA. You can browse the full series of 100 stories in numerical order, by theme or by decade.
The Boeing 767 must be the one aircraft in the BA fleet that had been a source of immense frustration to both passengers and crew, but in spite of its foibles, many still had a soft spot for it.
BA originally ordered 28 Boeing 767-336 aircraft in stages from the late 1980s onwards. The first aircraft entered service from early 1990 and operated short-haul flights, predominantly to Paris Charles de Gaulle.
They were soon joined later that year by long-haul configured aircraft, replacing TriStar aircraft to Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Riyadh, Doha, Jeddah and Khartoum.
The last aircraft were delivered in 1998 with fleet then operating from Gatwick, Heathrow and Manchester. Whilst the Boeing 767 fulfilled its initial promise of offering flexibility across short and long-haul operations, it fell out of favour.
At the turn of the century, BA put its whole network under review with the aim of cutting capacity and radically simplifying operations.
BA drastically downsized operations at Gatwick by reducing the number of different types of aircraft, leaving long-haul flights operated exclusively with the Boeing 777-200.
A combination of the Eurostar winning traffic from airlines and BA downsizing its short-haul operations at Heathrow meant that the much smaller capacity Airbus A320 series was preferred over the Boeing 757 and 767. 7 Boeing 767s were dispatched to Qantas, leaving 21 in the fleet.
The precise ratio of short and long-haul aircraft oscillated over time. However, before BA began progressively retiring the aircraft, 14 were in a long-haul configuration and 7 in a short-haul configuration.
The aircraft were unloved in many ways. The long-haul configured aircraft did originally operate with First Class but this was removed at around 2000. When BA first introduced fully flat beds in Club World, the 767s were the very last aircraft to have the new seat fitted. They were only completed not long before BA was about to introduce a new version of the Club World flat bed in 2006, which was never fitted to the 767.
In its later years it operated Manchester – New York JFK until its suspension in 2008, Paris Orly – Newark, and regular flights London Heathrow to Baltimore, Calgary, Dar es Salaam, Entebbe, Freetown-Monrovia, Grand Cayman Islands, Nassau, and Providenciales.
Some former Boeing 767 routes such as Dar es Salaam and Entebbe have since been suspended, along with a seasonal winter suspension to Calgary. This, perhaps, suggests that the larger Boeing 787 is not the right replacement for the 767 on many routes – and BA needs to find an alternative.
Whilst the short-haul aircraft were spared the “densification” that has befallen their Airbus counterparts, in their later years they were notorious for the state of their internal condition.
The Boeing 767 spent its final year at BA operating short-haul routes to destinations such as Athens and Larnaca. The very last Boeing 767, G-BZHA, completed its last scheduled passenger flight from Larnaca to London Heathrow on Sunday 25 November 2018.