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 Negus & Negus livery, taking its name from the design agency responsible for it, was the first BA livery following the merger of BEA and BOAC.
The livery was intended to combine elements of both BEA and BOAC’s identity. It featured BEA’s signature red and a quarter Union Jack on the tail fin to reflect BEA. The blue and white fuselage and the small Speedbird logo was intended to reflect BOAC. This was to appeal not only to the respective customers of BEA and BOAC, but also their staff.
At the same time, the design was intended to be bold enough to make the new, for BEA & BOAC passengers, British Airways name stand out.
The livery first came into effect in September 1973 when the British Airways name was adopted in advance of the formal merger of BEA and BOAC in April 1974. The first aircraft to bear the new livery was a BOAC Boeing 707. It took seven years to fully repaint all BEA and BOAC aircraft, with some aircraft carrying hybrid liveries for many years.
“British airways” was in June 1980 abbreviated to just “British”. However, this was considered outside of the UK to be overtly nationalistic in tone. The quarter Union Jack on the tail fin was of course retained for the Landor livery introduced in 1984.
As has been widely publicised, BA has painted one of its current Boeing 747 aircraft, G-CIVB, in the Negus livery to mark its centenary year.