What Happened To British Airways’ Boeing 767s?

In 1987, British Airways secured an order for 28 Boeing 767s to replace their aging fleet of Lockheed TriStar aircraft. The Boeing 767 at the time was revolutionary, requiring only two crew members for an all-glass cockpit and able to outperform most aircraft in the BA fleet.

767
A British Airways 767-300ER in legacy livery. Photo: Wikimedia

But what happened to the British Airways 767 fleet? Let’s find out.

Why did British Airways order the 767?

British Airways originally ordered the 767 for several reasons.

  • BA needed to find a medium-sized wide-body aircraft for their inter-Europe and transatlantic routes that could replace their TriStar aircraft.
  • They needed to find a way to make their fleet more fuel-efficient, and replacing a quad-engined or tri-engined aircraft with a more effective twin-engined aircraft was an easy solution.
  • Boeing offered a better deal to British Airways than Airbus, who was offering the more expensive Airbus A300 at the time.

In 1987, British Airways would place an order for 28 Boeing 767-300ERs. The 767 series had been under production since the 1980s and the 767-300ER was the latest and greatest variant at the time (Boeing would build a -400 series and develop some pretty crazy double decker designs).

Featured Video:

Lockheed
A British Airways Lockheed L-1011-385. Photo: Wikimedia

Compared to the outgoing Lockheed TriStar aircraft:

  • The Lockheed TriStar could carry 246 passengers (two classes) to a range of 5,345 nmi (9,899 km).
  • The Boeing 767-300ER could carry 261 passengers in two classes to a range of 5,980 nmi (11,070 km) which was a significant improvement for the airline.

What role did the 767 play in their fleet?

The Boeing 767 began its service in the British Airways fleet operating short domestic routes to train staff and show off the aircraft to the captive public. From there, the type started to operate inter-Europe routes such as London – Amsterdam, Athens, Rome, Frankfurt, Stockholm, and Istanbul.

When British Airways felt comfortable with the performance of the aircraft (and how their loyal passenger base preferred it with its much quieter jets and expansive space onboard), they started retiring their TriJet and DC-10 fleets to deploy the 767 instead. Its first transatlantic trip to the USA and down into Africa cemented the aircraft’s reputation as dependable, reliable and versatile.

“British Airways’ 767-300ERs had a variety of cabin configurations ranging from 97 seats in Business Class and 147 in Economy (244 seats) to 24 in Business, 24 in Premium and 141 in Economy (259 seats) or 259 seats in Economy.” – Airliner Watch

767
A British Airways 767 in special livery. Photo: Wikimedia

Why did British Airways retire the aircraft?

However, the perfect picture painted above was not entirely without its problems.

The British Airways 767 fleet suffered some flaws. The newer Rolls Royce RB211 engines equipped on the aircraft were actually heavier than the wings were designed for. This led to some structural problems that grounded their fleet until they were resolved.

Boeing delivered the 28 767s over eight years, but after only operating the type for 10 years, British Airways decided that they had too much capacity. They sent seven (practically brand new aircraft) to Qantas.

Eventually, British Airways decided to start replacing the 767s short-haul routes with its newer A320 fleet, and the long-haul routes with the game-changer 787 Dreamliner aircraft.


The last 767, G-BZHA, flew its final flight BA663 from Larnaca, Cyprus, to Heathrow back in 2018, closing the 767 British Airways chapter forever. The aircraft would be broken down for spare parts to be sold to other airlines still operating the aircraft.

What do you think? Did you ever fly on the British Airways 767? Let us know in the comments.

17 comments
  1. That Landor livery looks so classy. It also summerizes a team when British Airways flew with some pride, and set the standard for everyone else. Now they’re just a step above a budget carrier.

    1. I seem to remember it (the livery) didn’t go down well with Maggie Thatcher!

      Great plane. I flew in Air New Zealand 767’s across the Pacific many times.

      1. Nah – she disliked the ethnic liveries – the ones with the ethnic looking tails. She covered a model 744 with a tissue and said “We fly the British flag, not these awful things”.

  2. The main reason was the timing and performance of the 777-200 – delivered just 8 years after the 767 order in 1995, and later the 777-200ER. That, and BA pilots I know and have asked about it affectionately called it “the pig” because it handled like one. The 787 came much later, and like the 744s, they hung onto the 767s because they’d been paid for, and waited until more 777s and 787s were delivered. The older 772s I think took most of the shorter old 767 routes until the 787 became more available, and those took over from those 772s. Still – looks nice in Landor.

  3. Maggie once put a handkerchief over a model sporting the Landor livery saying: “We fly the British flag, not these awful things”

  4. My main take form this article is that — at the time in question — British Airways didn’t have a clue what it was doing as regards fleet planning…

  5. Any idea why I post twice to this article but both posts didn’t pass the moderator?? As a BA pilot, I’d have thought my opinion would matter…

  6. I used to regularly fly on BA’s 767s on their LHR-NAS-GCM service. I’d actually been flying to GCM with them since it was operated out of Gatwick using the last of the old BCal DC-10s. The retirement date on the 767s aircraft were definitely being stretched out and in the final years up to their replacement on this route with 777-200s (we were promised 787s but that never happened) tech issues were fairly common. We had everything from minor faults like broken seats and entertainment units to major issues like being grounded in Nassau with mechanical issues. On one trip when I was due for an important appointment the next day we got stuck at NAS because the aft toilets had backed up. Based on my experiences and the reports of incidents on other 767 routes it did seem like BA were literally running the aircraft into ground. The condition of the interiors on some of them was disgusting.

    One of the ironies is that in 2003 BA had the opportunity to get rid of their whole 767 fleet as part of a bid for the RAF’s FSTA programme. The aircraft (and presumably all the backup for them) would have been converted to KC-767 spec. As we all know that contract went to the Airbus Voyager.

  7. Fond memories of flying from Bogata to LHR via Caracas in the club cradle seat about 18 yes ago. If I recall, it also had First fitted at that time but no World Traveller Plus

  8. I flew in the BA/QF 767 many times, mainly SYD-BNE return or SYD-MEL return.

    Y class.

    Nice planes, IIRC had a special registration, maybe with an “X” somewhere?

    QANTAS didn’t seem to have any trouble filling them, and at one time I might have even gone to Jakarta on one, from Sydney.

    QANTAS also used their own earlier 767 planes on inter Asia routes (now abandoned to JQ) and maybe Frankfurt as well?

    YouTube has some nice stuff, such as https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yR18aLlXROw and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zniSQSB8X8Q re the last flight of a QANTAS 767.

  9. I loved the BA 767, Truly a workhorse for the fleet. I flew on them to many locations and worked on them virtually the whole time they were in the fleet. One of the great things about them was the space inside, another great feature was the powered up and over cabin doors (not everyone would know about these). You just pulled a handle flicked a switch and the door was open. I flew on them on many occasions and even landed in Moscow in the 1990s on the flight deck, an experience I’ll never forget due to the heavy crosswind at the time. I also flew on a smaller version from LGW-CLT then operated with US Airways aircraft in full BA livery but operated by US Airways crew under a code share agreement at the time. Sad to see them go but technology moves on as the reason the came into the fleet is the same reason they leave.

  10. I flew BA’s 767 many times, mainly to Larnaca and, towards end of service, to Edinburgh. I liked the plane and always enjoyed flying it but, it was noticeable, neither pilots nor cabin crews really like the plane (the “pig” was mentioned by others) which made one always wonder if something is not right with the plane features. In addition, in the last 6/7 years prior retiring the model, BA neglected the interior to the passenger’s detriment, whether seats, trays, toilets etc. With many other airlines still flying the 767 in big numbers (why BA’s were never converted to cargo which seems the way many older 767s were and are heading?), I wonder if BA simply did not maximise the benefits of it over the years simply because it was not loved by all concerned including early resales? Was it the RR engines? I do not see any RR engines on my frequent flying with the 767 used by other airlines.

  11. A quick entry from pedant’s corner…
    “inter-Europe” is meaningless. “inter” means “between” – so “intercontinental” makes sense as it translates to “between one continent and another”.
    I think what you mean is “intra-Europe”, since “intra” means “within”

    1. You know what, I had the exact same argument with my Grammarly checker, yet it kept saying inter-Europe and not intra-Europe.

  12. I flew on a BA 767 to Larnaca and back from LHR in 2005. Also flew an Alitalia 767 from Rome to Seychelles in 2000. Both flights much noisier than subsequent flights on the smoother A330 with Qatar and A340 with Emirates.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like