When British Airways Retired The Boeing 737

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Nowadays, the Airbus A320 family is the backbone of the British Airways fleet. However, in days gone past, the airline operated four different variants of the Boeing 737, as late as 2015. Let’s take a look back.

British Airways, boeing 737, Retirement
British Airways operated the Boeing 737 for 35 years, but could it be making a comeback? Photo: British Airways

This year, British Airways retired the Boeing 747 from its fleet after a reign of half a century. However, another aircraft that the airline operated for quite some time was the Boeing 737. With a 1980 entry and a 2015 retirement, the aircraft spent 35 years working for the British flag carrier. The airline operated all aircraft from the 737-200 to the 737-500.

The first 737s

British Airways’ first venture into Boeing 737 operation dates back to late 1978 and early 1979 when the airline leased four Netherlands registered -200 aircraft from Transavia. However, in February 1980, the airline received its first brand new 737. The 737s replaced the airline’s Trident fleet on domestic and short-haul routes.

G-BGDC was delivered on Feb 7th, with DB following on Feb 14th, and DD following on February 23rd. G-BGDA didn’t actually get delivered until December 1981, according to Planespotters.net. The first 737 to be delivered to the airline didn’t exit the fleet until May 1995, after 15 years in service. Indeed, some younger aircraft were retired before this.

British Airways, boeing 737, Retirement
The airline received its first Boeing 737s back in 1980. Photo: British Airways

Retiring the fleet

As British Airways switched to the Airbus A320 family, it brought the 737 family out of service. However, the airline was still operating the type just five years ago. Indeed, British Airways’ final Boeing 737 flight took place on September 30th, 2015. The flight saw the aircraft completing a rotation to Turin from London Gatwick.

The final Boeing 737 flight was operated by an all-female team on the flight deck, Captain Christine Scott and First Officer Gillian Tunley. The flight was actually Scott’s last. At the time, she commented,

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“I’ve been flying the 737 for 19 years, and have loved every moment… I can’t think of a better way to end my British Airways career.”

Could the 737 make a reappearance in the fleet?

While the Boeing 737 left the fleet previously, there exists a chance that it could be back in the future. At the 2019 Paris Air Show, British Airways’ owner IAG announced its intent to purchase up to 200 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft.

British Airways, boeing 737, Retirement
Last year IAG revealed its intention to purchase 200 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, with some going to British Airways. Photo: Getty Images

Now, it is entirely possible that if IAG did go through with such a deal, they wouldn’t necessarily end up at British Airways. However, in a stock exchange filing made on the same day, the airline group stated that the aircraft would be bound for LEVEL, Vueling, and British Airways at London Gatwick Airport.

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It will be interesting to see whether the deal goes ahead now that the FAA has kicked off the Boeing 737 MAX’s ungrounding. The airline has been forced to rightsize since the intention was revealed, including retiring aircraft to reduce the fleet size.

Did you get to fly on a British Airways Boeing 737? Let us know how you found the experience in the comments!

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