British Airways, often shortened to BA, is the flag carrier and the largest airline in the United Kingdom based on fleet size. When measured by passengers carried, it is second-largest in the United Kingdom behind easyJet. The airline is based in Waterside near its main hub at London Heathrow Airport.
A long-time Boeing customer, British Airways ordered 59 Airbus A320 family aircraft in August 1998. In 2007 it purchased 12 Airbus A380s and 24 Boeing 787 Dreamliners, marking the start of its long-haul fleet replacement. The centrepiece of the airline's long-haul fleet is the Boeing 777, with 58 in the fleet. British Airways is the largest operator of the Boeing 747-400, with 51 registered to the airline. With the exception of the Boeing 707 and early Boeing 747 variants from BOAC, British Airways inherited a mainly UK-built fleet of aircraft when it was formed in 1974. The airline introduced the Boeing 737 and Boeing 757 into the fleet in the 1980s, followed by the Boeing 747-400, Boeing 767 and Boeing 777 in the 1990s. BA is now the largest operator of Boeing 747-400s, with 57 in its fleet. Prior to the introduction of the 787, when Boeing built an aircraft for British Airways, it was allocated the customer code 36, which appeared in their aircraft designation as a suffix, such as 737–436.
In 1991, British Airways placed its first order for 777-200 aircraft, ordering another four for fleet expansion in 2007 at a cost of around US$800 million. BA's first 777s were fitted with General Electric GE90 engines, but BA switched to Rolls-Royce Trent 800s for subsequent aircraft. Later in 2007, BA announced their order of thirty-six new long-haul aircraft, including twelve Airbus A380s and twenty-four Boeing 787 Dreamliners. Rolls-Royce Trent engines were again selected for both orders with Trent 900s powering the A380s and Trent 1000s powering the 787s. The Boeing 787s will replace 14 of British Airways' Boeing 767 fleet, while the Airbus A380s will replace 20 of BA's Boeing 747-400s and will most likely be used to increase capacity on key routes from London Heathrow.