I came upon this clip on YouTube this week:

It appears to depict a Boeing 727 in British Airways livery. My first thought was that it's a Trident, but it is definitely a B727. I was a regular visitor to Heathrow and Gatwick in the 70s and 80s in my plane spotting days and I don't remember BA ever operating 727s.

So, how did this 727 come to be painted in BA colours?

Bonus question: which airport was this filmed at, since it's not either of the two main London airports?

  • $\begingroup$ Hmm... Interestingly, the wiki pages for BA, BOAC, and BEA don't seem to mention the 727 being used anywhere. BEA did try to order 727s, but the British government didn't allow it and forced them to buy British aircraft instead. Perhaps this is from when they were evaluating the 727? $\endgroup$
    – reirab
    Commented Mar 31, 2017 at 22:23
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    $\begingroup$ It's probably operated by Comair, you can find more pictures on airliners.net, and even in newer livery. $\endgroup$
    – fooot
    Commented Mar 31, 2017 at 22:30
  • $\begingroup$ @reirab I wondered about that but BEA's dalliance with the 727 occurred in the 60s, long before British Airways came into existence in 1974. $\endgroup$
    – Airsick
    Commented Mar 31, 2017 at 22:53
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    $\begingroup$ BA took over Dan Air's 7x 727s when they bought the airline in early 90s. They had 727s at gatwick $\endgroup$
    – Dino Wiand
    Commented Mar 9 at 17:04

1 Answer 1


Interesting question!

In the background, a Lufthansa Boeing 747-400 can be seen. Therefore, I assume the airport is a Lufthansa destination. Since the 727 is not exactly a long range aircraft, but the 747 is, my first thought would be that the airport is in Germany.

I couldn't really see what livery the 737-200 in front of the LH 747 was, but soon in the take-off roll (0:10 seconds) a propeller aircraft (Dash 8?) with a South African Airlines tail appears. Then during the rest of the video many SAA tails are visible and also a number orange tails. I needed to get my first aircraft book (printed 1989) to discover that the old livery of SAA featured an orange tail.

It is thus pretty safe to assume that the airport is in South Africa.

That makes it quite rare for a British Airways 727 to appear there. The range of the aircraft is approximately 2000 nautical miles which is a bit short of the almost 5000 nautical miles that London - Johannesburg measures.

I then remembered a recent accident in South Africa involving a Comair Boeing 737-400 in British Airways livery. This led me to believe that this particular Boeing 727 in the video may be a Comair 727 in BA livery too.

A little search turned up this picture on airliners.net, confirming that Comair indeed operated the 727 in BA livery.

The airport is O.R. Tambo in Johannesburg:

enter image description here

A still from the youtube video showing some buildings in the background

enter image description here

The same buildings in Google Maps

  • 16
    $\begingroup$ That is some excellent deduction work Sherlock! $\endgroup$
    – Criggie
    Commented Apr 1, 2017 at 0:41
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    $\begingroup$ Thank you! The Comair page on Wikipedia confirms the link to BA, but doesn't give a date when the arrangement started. The coat-of-arms livery dates this clip to post-1984, but I imagine things had been in place a while by then. $\endgroup$
    – Airsick
    Commented Apr 1, 2017 at 1:04
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    $\begingroup$ Gah! There's a ghost 747 on the ramp! $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 1, 2017 at 1:30
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    $\begingroup$ Simply brilliant! $\endgroup$
    – mins
    Commented Apr 1, 2017 at 9:41
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    $\begingroup$ @Airsick, I expect this to be late 1990s. SAA introduced their new livery in 1997 and in the video they are cleary in the middle of the transformation. $\endgroup$
    – DeltaLima
    Commented Apr 1, 2017 at 23:58

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