British Airways was one of the first airlines to commit to the Boeing 757-200 by placing an order for 19 aircraft in August 1978. BA was looking for a replacement for its uneconomical and ageing Hawker Siddeley Trident 3B. However, due to financial problems BA reduced its original order to 17 in June 1982, releasing the order slots to Air Europe. The maiden flight of the 757 was on 19 February 1982 and, after an intensive period of test flying, it achieved CAA certification in January 1983.
History of the BA 757 Fleet
BA’s first Boeing 757-236 was delivered on the 25 January 1983. It was registered as G-BIKB and named ‘Windsor Castle’. Most of the 757 fleet were named after historic British castles until BA stopped the practice of naming aircraft in the late 1990s. The second aircraft, G-BIKC, ‘Edinburgh Castle’, arrived three days later and the two aircraft were used for crew training and route-proving flights for a week, in preparation for going into service. The first commercial flight of a BA 757 took place on the 9 February 1983 and was operated by G-BIKB on the Shuttle Service from London Heathrow to Belfast.
Five aircraft had been delivered to BA by April 1983, although one (G-BIKF) was leased to Air Europe for the summer months. The initial configuration of the aircraft passenger cabin was in a six-abreast, two-class layout, with 12 Club and 174 Economy seats, with the option of 195 seats in an all Economy arrangement. The aircraft were fully active operating the Super Shuttle routes between Heathrow and Belfast, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Manchester. European services from Heathrow to Rome, Paris, Milan and Copenhagen were flown by the 757 for the first time in the late Spring/Summer 1983, expanding to Athens, Amsterdam, Nice and Frankfurt in October, and Geneva and Zurich in January 1984. By early 1984, ten 757s had been delivered to BA and the airline confirmed the option to acquire three more aircraft in 1985.
BA continued to slowly and progressively develop the B757 fleet, with orders for two more aircraft in April 1987, three in August 1987 and one in the latter part of 1988, including, for the first time, the up-rated Rolls-Royce RB 211-535E4 engines which were considered to contribute up to an 11% saving in fuel consumption over the previously supplied RB 211-535C powerplants. A further five RB211-535E4 powered 757s were ordered in October 1990. As new aircraft were delivered, some were reconfigured with an additional twelve seats (total of 201 seats) and used specifically for domestic Shuttle operations. Most aircraft remained in the two-class European layout, although a number of changes were introduced in 1994, including a new Club Europe Business Class. The forward cabin and part of the mid-cabin area was changed to a five-abreast layout, with wider, leather seats and extra legroom. This reduced the maximum seating to 180, but it was relatively easy to change this configuration back to six-abreast economy seating if required.
During 1984 and 1985 BA used some of its 757s to operate charter and scheduled leisure flights for various tour operators from Manchester, Belfast and Glasgow. Destinations included Tenerife, Venice, Ibiza, Rhodes, Las Palmas, Athens and Malta. Another operation carried out by BA 757s until late 1992 was the night-time Royal Mail service between Heathrow and Edinburgh. An aircraft departed from each airport before midnight. On arrival the mail was unloaded and the aircraft was in position to resume Super Shuttle duties early the following morning.
In 1986, the RB211-535E4-powered 757 was approved for Extended-range Twin-engine Operational Performance Standards (ETOPS), which was particularly relevant to Caledonian Airways, BA’s charter subsidiary. Between 1989 and 1995, Caledonian operated six of BA’s 757 fleet and named them after Scottish Lochs. The first aircraft delivered to Caledonian (G-BPEA) was the first BA 757 to have maximum take-off weights and the up-rated RB211-535E4 engines. ETOPS approval allowed Caledonian to operate a number of charter flights to the USA, Canada and Thailand from Gatwick Airport, although most of Caledonian’s operations took place within Europe.
BA also used 757s on some transatlantic routes in the mid-1990s. Three aircraft were fitted with New Club World seats in the forward cabin and a more spacious World Traveller economy layout in the rest of the cabin, giving a seating arrangement for a total of 156 passengers. These aircraft were used on daily services from Glasgow to New York JFK and onwards to Boston; Birmingham to New York JFK and on to Toronto; and Manchester to New York JFK. However, it wasn’t a financial success and the long-haul routes ended in November 1998, with the aircraft returning to short-haul operations.
Despite various attempts at route diversification, for the majority of the time BA operated the B757 on European routes from Heathrow to a range of locations and as far afield as Larnaca, Lisbon, Helsinki and Tel Aviv.
The number of aircraft in BA’s 757 fleet reached a peak of 53 in 1999, but the airline had already taken a decision which marked the beginning of the end of the B757 in BA service. Towards the end of 1998, BA had decided to use smaller-capacity aircraft from the Airbus A320 family on its short-haul routes for profitability reasons. Four B757 aircraft that were still on order and due to be delivered in 1999 were cancelled and sold. In October 1999, BA announced that thirty-four of its B757 fleet had been sold to Boeing Aviation Services for special freighter conversion before delivery to DHL International or their subsidiary European Air Transport Leipzig (EAT). The first aircraft to leave the fleet on the 19 May 2000 was G-BIKA (Dover Castle), the third aircraft originally delivered to BA in 1983. As BA worked to reduce its overall aircraft fleet, especially after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, many 757s were placed in storage until they could be transferred to their new owners for conversion. By December 2001, twenty-five aircraft had departed.
By 2004, only thirteen 757s remained When Terminal Five opened at Heathrow in March 2008, it led to the disappearance more or less of the 757 from domestic Shuttle routes. Terminal Five’s baggage system was set up to only use baggage containers in order to speed up loading and unloading. Bulk-loading of baggage and cargo had only ever been used on the 757, so these aircraft were transferred to Terminal Three where they were largely used on services to Madrid, Barcelona, Lisbon, Nice, Helsinki, Vienna and Malaga.
The last month of operations by the BA 757s was in October 2010, when only three aircraft remained. The final flights were on the 30 October 2010 and included C-CPET which, repainted in the original 757 Negus livery and named Stokesay Castle to mark the type’s retirement, operated farewell Shuttle flights between Heathrow and Manchester, Glasgow and finally Edinburgh, before becoming the last Boeing 757 aircraft to be retired from the main BA fleet.
The Boeing 757 was operated by British Airways for 27 years between 1983 and 2010, during which time it flew over 1.9 million hours. Despite some political and economic concerns when it was first ordered by BA, it was one of the most favoured aircraft of BA’s short-haul fleet throughout its time in service.
British Airways Boeing 757 Fleet List
|Registration||C/n||Name||Delivery Date||Exit date||Fate|
|G-BIKA||22172||Dover Castle||28/03/1983||07/07/2000||To EAT|
|G-BIKB||22173||Windsor Castle||25/01/1983||01/07/2002||To EAT|
|G-BIKC||22174||Edinburgh Castle||31/01/1983||27/03/2002||To DHL|
|G-BIKD||22175||Caernarfon Castle||10/03/1983||03/05/2001||To EAT|
|G-BIKF||22177||Carrickfergus Castle||31/10/1983||03/06/2002||To DHL|
|G-BIKG||22178||Stirling Castle||26/08/1983||07/07/2001||To DHL|
|G-BIKH||22179||Richmond Castle||18/10/1983||22/03/2001||To EAT|
|G-BIKI||22180||Tintagel Castle||30/11/1983||06/07/2001||To EAT|
|G-BIKJ||22181||Conwy Castle||09/01/1984||19/01/2001||To EAT|
|G-BIKK||22182||Eilean Donan Castle||01/02/1984||11/06/2001||To DHL|
|G-BIKL||22183||Nottingham Castle||29/02/1984||07/08/2001||To EAT|
|G-BIKM||22184||Glamis Castle||21/03/1984||06/01/2002||To DHL|
|G-BIKN||22186||Bodiam Castle||23/01/1985||20/11/2001||To DHL|
|G-BIKO||22187||Harlech Castle||14/02/1985||01/02/2002||To DHL|
|G-BIKP||22188||Enniskillen Castle||11/03/1985||14/02/2001||To DHL|
|G-BIKR||22189||Bamburgh Castle||29/03/1985||20/07/2002||To EAT|
|G-BIKS||22190||Corfe Castle||31/05/1985||31/03/2002||To DHL|
|G-BIKT||23398||Carisbrooke Castle||01/11/1985||09/01/2003||To EAT|
|G-BIKU||23399||Inveraray Castle||07/11/1985||27/10/2001||To DHL|
|G-BIKV||23400||Raglan Castle||09/12/1985||13/09/2002||To DHL|
|G-BIKW||23492||Belvoir Castle||07/03/1986||30/09/2001||To EAT|
|G-BIKX||23493||Warwick Castle||14/03/1986||27/06/2001||To EAT|
|G-BIKY||23533||Leeds Castle||28/03/1986||02/09/2003||To EAT|
|G-BIKZ||23532||Kenilworth Castle||15/05/1986||11/09/2001||To DHL|
|G-BKRM||22176||‘Braemar Castle’||Lsd from Air Europe: 01/11/1984-30/04/1986 and 02/11/1986-26/04/1987|
|G-BMRA||23710||Beaumaris Castle||02/03/1987||27/11/2002||To DHL|
|G-BMRB||23975||Colchester Castle||25/09/1987||15/05/2003||To DHL|
|G-BMRC||24072||Rochester Castle||22/01/1988||21/08/2003||To DHL|
|G-BMRD||24073||Bothwell Castle||29/02/1988||14/11/2003||To DHL|
|G-BMRE||24074||Killyleagh Castle||23/03/1988||01/11/2003||To DHL|
|G-BMRF||24101||Hever Castle||13/05/1988||14/10/2002||To DHL|
|G-BMRG||24102||Caerphilly Castle||31/05/1988||29/07/2002||To EAT|
|G-BMRH||24266||Norwich Castle||21/02/1989||25/02/2003||To DHL|
|G-BMRI||24267||Tonbridge Castle||17/02/1989||25/06/2002||To EAT|
|G-BMRJ *||24268||Old Wardour Castle (Caledonian: Loch Tummel)||28/10/1990||17/12/2002||To DHL|
|G-BPEA*||24370||Kidwelly Castle (Caledonian: Loch of the Clans)||01/11/1995||04/04/2001||To Pegasus Aviation|
|G-BPEB*||24371||(Caledonian: Loch Lomond)||30/10/1995||29/03/2001||To Pegasus Aviation|
|G-BPEC*||24882||Sir Simon Rattle (Caledonian: Loch Katrine)||31/10/1994||06/05/2009||To FedEx|
|G-BPED||25059||Blair Castle||30/04/1991||13/09/2009||To FedEx|
|G-BPEE*||25060||Robert Louis Stevenson (Caledonian: Loch Tay)||20/11/1994||19/11/2009||To FedEx|
|G-BPEF*||24120||(Caledonian: Loch Fainnach)||01/11/1995||15/04/2003||To Sun d’Or|
|G-BPEI||25806||Winchester Castle||09/03/1994||30/10/2009||To FedEx|
|G-BPEJ||25807||Llangollen Castle||25/04/1994||02/10/2008||To OpenSkies|
|G-BPEK||25808||Cardew Castle||17/03/1995||15/02/2008||To OpenSkies|
|G-CPEL||24398||Walmer Castle||24/08/1992||19/05/2009||To FedEx|
|G-CPEP||25268||Un-named||17/04/1997||30/04/2002||To Air 2000|
|G-CPET||29115||‘Stokesay Castle’||12/05/1998||06/11/2010||To FedEx|
|G-CPEU#||29941||Un-named||01/05/1999||31/10/2002||To Air 2000|
|G-CPEV#||29943||Un-named||11/06/1999||20/12/2002||To Air 2000|
|G-DRJC||23895||‘Braemar Castle’||Lsd from Monarch Airlines 26/04/1988-19/04/1989|
|G-OOOB||23822||Un-named||Lsd from Air 2000 01/11/1987-23/04/1988|
|* – aircraft operated by Caledonian Airways during part of BA service
# – aircraft leased rather than purchased by BA