LONDON — The year was 1973. The United Kingdom entered the European Economic Community, (now the European Union), the Watergate scandal was gaining momentum in the USA, and the Concorde seemed to set the future trend of air travel.

It was also the year in which the ‘Negus’ livery came to light. The first color scheme of British Airways, an airline resulting from the merger of BOAC, BEA, Cambrian Airways and Northeast Airlines in 1974.

The scheme is named after the Negus & Negus creative agency in charge of developing the corporate image. The elegant livery included a white top with a dark blue and grey belly, and a blue speedbird logo adorning the front, near to the cockpit. The tail design featured a stylized quarter Union Jack flag, with the tail top in red.

According to a corporate newspaper dated in July 1973, the new corporate identity will “start to appear immediately to establish the new image. Steadily, it will be introduced on everything, from aircraft to offices (…) But it may be three years before the new style has completely replaced the former styles (…) everywhere.”

“Today, British Airways starts to come alive. It starts to acquire a new face and a personality of its own all over the world,” the newspaper says.

The ‘Negus’ livery was progressively introduced in the fleet, while the newly delivered aircraft, the Boeing 747s, and Lockheed L1011s, would come with the new colors. The Concordes featured a modified version of the new look, due to heat issues at high speed.

The original livery remained unchanged until 1983, when it was revised with the introduction of the Boeing 757-200 to the airline, featuring simple ‘British’ titles. In total, ‘Negus’ served the British Airways fleet for 14 years until its replacement by the ‘Landor’ color scheme in 1987.

Now the ‘Negus’ is back in the form of a retrojet, joining three other British Airways liveries introduced as part of its centenary heritage fleet, and that showcase the evolution of the airline — a BOAC 747-400, a BEA Airbus A319, and a British Airways 747-400 featuring the ‘Landor’ livery.

G-CIVB is the 1018th Boeing 747 built. British Airways plans to keep the aircraft painted with the ‘Negus’ livery until its planned retirement in 2022.

According to British Airways, the combined heritage fleet have flown to more than 30 destinations across the UK, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and North America.

The aircraft selected to wear the ‘Negus’ colors is a Boeing 747-400 (G-CIVB · MSN 25811 · LN 1018). The jumbo entered the International Aerospace Coating (IAC) paint shop at Dublin Airport on March 9, where it received its vintage paint job. The jetliner arrived in Heathrow today at 11:23 local time.

At the arrival, ‘Negus’ was presented to the British Airways employees and the invited media, ahead of its entry in service later today, operating flight BA43 to Cape Town.

The British Airways Flight Attendants pose with the ‘Negus’-liveried Boeing 747-400 in the uniforms corresponding to that era of the airline’s heritage.

“‘Negus’ is the first design worn by the British Airways that we all know today, with the distinctive lower case ‘a’ and the Union Flag on the tailfin,” says Alex Cruz, British Airways’s chairman and chief executive.

“We are impressed at how popular the four heritage designs have been. I’m excited about what the rest of this year has in store,” Cruz says.


British Airways has embarked into a five-year £6.5bn investment plan, intended to improve the passenger experience. The plan includes the installation of WiFi and power in every seat, fitting 128 long-haul aircraft with new interiors, and taking delivery of 72 new aircraft.

Earlier this week British Airways revealed its new business class seat, named ‘Club Suite,’ and confirmed its launch with the arrival of the airline’s first Airbus A350, due for delivery in July.