British European received its first series 700 Viscounts in 1953 followed by the first series 800 in January 1957. Of the 79 Viscounts operated by BEA 37 of them saw service from 1974 with its successor British Airways and 35 of these were series 800s.
The Viscounts were gradually disposed of during the 1970s, replaced by One-Elevens, Tridents and 737s on most trunk domestic services. Despite this many remained in service with the Highlands and Channel divisions into the early 1980s.
During 1980 British Airways began a serious cost-cutting exercise and it was not surprising that the Viscount routes no longer fitted with BA's operational ethos. The Channel Islands services (aside from Jersey to Heathrow and Manchester) were stopped entirely from 31st January 1980 whilst HS-748s gradually replaced the remainder of the Viscounts in the Highlands & islands division. Viscount operations with BA had ended by 1982.
Many of the Viscounts that ended up with BA came through the mergers of the British Air Services airlines (Cambrian and Northeast) rather than directly from BEA. AOYM was originally delivered to BEA as 'RMA John Loudon McAdam', on 19th March 1958. She was sold to Cambrian in 1971, but rejoined BA when Cambrian was merged into it. She was sold to British Air Ferries in early 1984 and leased the next year to Manx Airlines as ‘Skianyn Vannin’. Sold to Lineas Aereas Canarias in October 1985 as EC-DYC she was withdrawn in May 1989 and used as a nightclub in Santa Cruz.
G-AOYO was also a BAS acquisiton - originally ‘RMA Adam Smith’ delivered new in April 1958. Ten years afterwards she joined the BKS, later Northeast Airlines, fleet and transitioned to BA in 1974. Stored by 1982 and sold to British Air Ferries in 1984 she was soon on-sold to Lineas Aereas Canarias, along with her sister AOYM, where she became EC-DXU and was named ‘Isla De Tenerife’ and later ‘Isla de Gran Canaria’. She was withdrawn from service in 1989.
Though both of these Viscounts ony had short stays with British Air Ferries the majority of the British Airways fleet found its way to BAF which continued to take 'new' aircraft as late as 1984 (they had been carefully weather-proofed whilst stored by BA). Their careers with BAF will form the content of part 3 of our story...
I'm Richard Stretton: a fan of classic airliners and airlines who enjoys exploring their history through my collection of die-cast airliners. If you enjoy the site please donate whatever you can to help keep it running: