Home Classic Airliners Classic Airline Fleets – British Airways 757s

Classic Airline Fleets – British Airways 757s

by Nigel Richardson

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

G-BIKB on approach to runway 09L at Heathrow. G-BIKB was the first Boeing 757 delivered to British Airways on the 25th January 1983 (Steve Fitzgerald, distributed under a GFDL 1.2 Licence)

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.

G-CPEM on approach to Heathrow in April 2005. The aircraft is painted in ‘Blue Peter’ special colours after the BBC children’s TV programme (Dale Coleman, distributed under a GFDL 1.2 Licence)

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.

G-BPEK in a special Remembrance Day livery (Konstantin von Wedelstaedt, distributed under a GFDL 1.2 Licence)

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.

G-BIKI taxiing at Heathrow in April 1996. The aircraft is painted in the Landor scheme which the majority of the B757 fleet displayed from 1984 until 1996 (Aero Icarus, distributed under a CC BY-SA 2.0 Licence)

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.

The Boeing 757 is known as the ‘pocket rocket’ due to its high thrust-to-weight ratio which leads to steep climb-outs after take-off as shown here by G-CPET departing from Malaga, Spain (Javier Bravo Muñoz, distributed under a GFDL 1.2 Licence)

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

(Source: Planespotters.net)

G-BIKA at Zurich in 1998. The tail of the aircraft is painted in the Blue Poole special livery (Aero Icarus, distributed under a CC BY-SA 2.0 Licence)

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-CPEM 28665 Un-named 28/03/1997 01/05/2010 To FedEx
G-CPEN 28666 Un-named 23/04/1997 20/12/2009 To FedEx
G-CPEO 28667 Un-named 12/07/1997 30/06/2010 To FedEx
G-CPEP 25268 Un-named 17/04/1997 30/04/2002 To Air 2000
G-CPER 29113 Un-named 29/12/1997 30/10/2010 To FedEx
G-CPES 29114 Un-named 17/03/1998 30/10/2010 To FedEx
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

G-CPET repainted in the Negus livery during October 2010 to mark the retirement of the Boeing 757 from British Airways’ fleet (John Taggart, distributed under a CC BY-SA 2.0 Licence)


Boeing 757 Timelines

Nigel Richardson’s new hardback book charts the history and operators of the Boeing 757 throughout its life.

In this book you’ll explore the 757’s evolution, design, and development, and witness its remarkable career through colour photographs, technical information, fleet lists and more.

With hundreds of colour photographs and diagrams, plus fleet listings, technical information and more.

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1 comment

MERVYN CROWE May 21, 2023 - 3:25 am

I only had 10 flights on the 757, six of them in the jump seat, so pretty special. Great aeroplane, the only 757s we now see in Australia are the USAF ones.


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