BBAE ‘Stargazer Rose’ was the first of nine Tristar 1s:
G-BBAE Stargazer Rose
G-BBAF Coronation Rose
G-BBAG Caroline Davison Rose
G-BBAH Sunsilk Rose
G-BBAI Molly McCreedy Rose
G-BBAJ Elizabeth Harkness Rose
G-BEAK Northern Lights Rose
G-BEAL Red Devil Rose
G-BEAM Silver Jubilee Rose
The last three out of sequence aircraft were actually upgraded to series 50s in 1985. Initial destinations served were Malaga, Brussels, Paris, Madrid and Palma. By the summer of that year they were also serving Alicante, Amsterdam, Athens, Faro and Tel Aviv. With the Arab-Israeli war, escalating fuel prices and the worldwide economic recession many of theses routes no longer supported the use of a widebodied, 320 passenger aircraft. So two of BA's TriStar 1s were converted to a 240 seat 2-class configuration and put into service on routes to the Near and Middle East, primarily to destinations in the Gulf and India.
BEAL and BEAM were delivered in long haul configuration and went into service on the Gulf routes. BA had been contracted by Gulf Air to oversee the introduction of the GF Tristars in 1976, and as soon as the BA-OD (Overseas Division) saw the economics of operating a -1 to Bahrain, they commandered the next two Tristars and put them into service competing with Gulf Air. The Bahrain route was at the limit of -1 range, but was doable year round.
BA also leased an Eastern Air Lines Tristar, N323EA, for a short time in 1979:
In May 1979 BA received its first of 6 longer-range series 500s, for which BA was launch customer:
G-BFCA Princess Margaret Rose
G-BFCB Harry Wheatcraft Rose
G-BFCC English Mist Rose
G-BFCD Astral Rose
G-BFCE Gay Gordons Rose
G-BFCF Elizabeth of Glamis Rose
Their first route was to Abu Dhabi which was later extended to Singapore. The 500 was intended for use as a replacement for the VC-10 and 707 on routes with insufficient traffic to warrant using a 747 including the east and west coasts of the USA and the Caribbean. Another service started a couple of years after the 500 went into service was London-New Orleans-Mexico City. After only a few years however, in 1983, they were all sold to the RAF as tanker/transports and the last has only just been retired.
The Conservative government at the time wanted to privatise BA, but BA were approximately £1 billion in debt and therefore not attractive to private investors. Much of the debt was as a result of the order for approximately 21 757's which started delivery in January 1983. Add to that the Falkland's war in 1982 and the British government realised that the RAF did not have a capable tanker/jet cargo aircraft capable of supplying the Falklands. With BA desperate to make cuts & save money, BA sold their TriStar 500's to the RAF for a rumoured £1 billion pounds, which was way above their market price. And hey presto, BA was suddenly making a profit!
That wasn't the end for the Tristar 500 in the BA fleet though as following the Falklands War BA leased a pair for South American services (I guess traffic loads were down) from Air Lanka. These became:
G-BLUS Laggan Bay
G-BLUT Dunnet Bay
Both remained in service from March 1985 until April 1988
In January 1979 BA made its last Tristar order when six Tristar 200s were ordered for delivery between March 1980 and May 1981:
G-BGBB Lakeland Rose
G-BGBC Short Silk Rose
G-BHBL Red Ensign Rose
G-BHBM Piccadilly Rose
G-BHBN Fragrant Star Rose
G-BHBO Morning Jewel Rose
These aircraft were purchased to enable replacement of the shorter range Tristar 1s on routes to the Middle-East but also saw service to the USA and Asia. The Tristar 1s were gradually moved to British Airtours with BBAE ‘Torbay’ (by then the Tristars had all been renamed) becoming ‘Loch Earn’ in 1988 when the Caledonian name was adopted.
Still the TriStar 1/50 remained the mainstay of the LHR-CDG route (supplemented by the 757 in latter years) until 1989. It was replaced by the 767 either at the start of the 89-90 winter schedules or the 1990 summer schedules.
In the end the Tristar 200s remained in service until only 1991. After storage for several years most became freighters with American International.
The examples with Caledonian had longer careers well into the 90s. BBAE stayed with them until 1999 except for winter leases to Worldways as C-FXCB in 1988 and 1989. She joined Ducor World Airways in 2001 but was broken up by late 2004.
Further as an interesting aside:
Because the TriStar 1 did not have the range to serve LAX when BA's 707s on this route were under competitive pressure from other airlines' wide bodied aircraft in the mid 1970s and there was insufficient traffic to justify the use of a 747, BA came to a interchange leasing arrangement with Air New Zealand (NZ). Every day an NZ DC-10 flew an NZ service from AKL to LAX. There it was transferred to BA (still in NZ livery) to fly LAX-LHR. Another aircraft simultaneously operated in the reverse direction. When the traffic on the LHR-LAX grew so as to warrant the substitution of the DC-10 with a 747 with one year of the interchange leasing agreement still to run BA moved the NZ DC-10s onto the MIA (5-a-week) and YUL (3-a-week) routes while still flying the LHR-LAX route twice a week to supplement their own 747 service. At this time they were effectively using half of NZ's DC-10 fleet and feeding a lot of traffic into the NZ flights!
Lastly I might add that I did get to fly on possibly up to four of the Tristar 1 fleet as I distinctly recall flying British Airtours Tristars to both Palma and Malaga return in the mid 80s. I was only about 7 at the time so I didn't catch the regos sadly. I do also recall an impressive lineup of LTU Tristars in Spain though.
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: