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Boris Johnson’s RAF Voyager plane takes to the air after its new £900,000 patriotic paint job

Boris Johnson’s RAF Voyager plane took off for the first time today after receiving a £900,000 red, white and blue paint job.  

The jet’s tail fin had previously been spotted inside a hangar at an airfield in Cambridgeshire, where it underwent a new Brexit paint job to help the PM fly the flag for the UK when he travels to international summits. 

The RAF Voyager – which was previously a military grey colour – has been resprayed in white, with a Union flag on the tailfin and United Kingdom written in gold on the fuselage. 

Ministers hope the new design – which is much more visible than the usual military grey – will help boost ‘Brand Britain’ abroad, although critics have mocked it as an expensive folly that will make Mr Johnson look like Austin Powers on tour.  

The RAF Voyager has undergone a £900,000 paint job, replacing the old grey design with a red, white and blue colour scheme

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said the government was willing to spend money to 'promote' the UK abroad

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said the government was willing to spend money to ‘promote’ the UK abroad

The new appearance bears a striking resemblance to the retro livery that adorned the British Airways fleet from 1974 to 1980, known as the Negus design. 

Footage of the plane taking off from Cambridge City Airport to fly back to its base in RAF Brize Norton, Oxfordshire, has had mixed reception upon take off among Twitter users.

Mark Vipond wrote: ‘Looks splendid! A great advert all around the world for our newly independent United Kingdom.’

Another user wrote: ‘It looks like its part of the British Airways fleet. £900k and they couldn’t think of something more original?’ 

Amanda White said it was ‘worth every penny,’  

The PM will share the plane with members of the royal family who wish to use it when they travel abroad. 

Britain does not have a prime ministerial plane used solely by Downing Street, unlike many other countries such as America’s presidential jet, Air Force One.

Labour said it showed the government had the wrong ‘priorities’ when people across the country were worried about jobs and the education of their children.

But Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said the government was willing to spend money to ‘promote’ the UK abroad. ‘The work on voyager is part of that promotion,’ he told the daily coronavirus briefing.

Officials have insisted the plane would still be able to fulfil its military role as an air-to-air refuelling tanker. 

Downing Street also defended the £900,000 price tag.

At the time the price tag was revealed, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: ‘That incorporates the cost of creating a design that will promote the UK around the world without compromising the plane’s vital military role.

‘At every stage we have worked to ensure value for money for the UK taxpayer and all of the work has been undertaken in the UK, directly benefiting British suppliers.’

The RAF Voyager, used by the Prime Minister and the royal family, took off from an airport in Cambridge with its new paint job today

The RAF Voyager, used by the Prime Minister and the royal family, took off from an airport in Cambridge with its new paint job today

Criticism has been voiced over the cost of changing the plane from its usual grey appearance to red, white and blue

Footage of the plane taking off from Cambridge today has been shared online, with mixed reviews from Twitter users

Footage of the plane taking off from Cambridge today has been shared online, with mixed reviews from Twitter users 

The interior of the RAF Voyager had a £10million makeover back in 2016, when David Cameron was prime minister

The interior of the RAF Voyager had a £10million makeover back in 2016, when David Cameron was prime minister

United Kingdom has been written in gold across the side of the plane, which flew over Cambridge on Thursday afternoon

United Kingdom has been written in gold across the side of the plane, which flew over Cambridge on Thursday afternoon

The new appearance bears a striking resemblance to the retro livery that adorned the British Airways fleet from 1974 to 1980, which was known as the Negus design

The new appearance bears a striking resemblance to the retro livery that adorned the British Airways fleet from 1974 to 1980, which was known as the Negus design

On the cost, the spokesman said: ‘That incorporates the cost of creating a design that will promote the UK around the world without compromising the plane’s vital military role.

‘At every stage we have worked to ensure value for money for the UK taxpayer and all of the work has been undertaken in the UK, directly benefiting British suppliers.

The interior of the Voyager had a £10million makeover in 2016, when David Cameron was prime minister. Mr Johnson and other ministers, as well as members of the Royal Family, will be allowed to use the plane, which will also continue to be used as a refuelling aircraft. 

Following the £10million makeover, RAF Voyager was first used to take David Cameron and other ministers to the Nato summit in Poland in July 2016. 

Mr Johnson has previously questioned why the plane was grey, saying he would like to have a ‘Brexit plane’ to help him travel the world and promote the Government’s vision of global Britain.

He also complained in 2018 while foreign secretary that the RAF Voyager jet, which is shared by the Prime Minister, senior Cabinet members and the royal family, ‘never seems to be available’.

The RAF Voyager aircraft emerged from a hangar at Cambridge City Airport today, where it has undergone a £900,000 paint job

The RAF Voyager aircraft emerged from a hangar at Cambridge City Airport today, where it has undergone a £900,000 paint job

Twitter users had mixed opinions as the RAF Voyager took off after its first flight with a new £900,000 paint job today

Twitter users had mixed opinions as the RAF Voyager took off after its first flight with a new £900,000 paint job today 

The Negus livery first adorned the British Airways fleet from 1974 to 1980, directly after the merger of BOAC and BEA, which led to the formation of the airline customers know today.

When it initially flew, the Negus livery was the first time an aircraft had carried ‘British Airways’ since 1939, back when  the original British Airways Limited merged with Imperial Airways to form BOAC.

In the design, the Union Jack is not present on the body of the plane and is instead adorned on the tailfin of the aircraft. 

The livery was designed by creative agency Negus & Negus, giving it its name. As BEA and BOAC merged to become British Airways in 1974, elements of both of their liveries were incorporated together to create the Negus. 

The Voyager aircraft used by the PM (pictured at PMQs today) on foreign trips is to get ‘national branding’, rather than the standard grey that makes it less visible in the sky

Now, to mark BA’s centenary, a Boeing 747 will be repainted in the Negus design. 

The 747-400, registration G-CIVB, entered the IAC paint bay at Dublin Airport last Saturday where it is being repainted with the first version of the Negus livery. 

The repainted 747 will return to Heathrow and enter service later this month flying to long-haul destinations served by the Boeing 747, with the design remaining on the aircraft until it retires in 2022.

The Negus is the fourth and final heritage design to be painted on a British Airways aircraft. 

Alex Cruz, British Airways’ Chairman and CEO, said: ‘Rumours have been circulating for quite some time about this final livery, so it’s exciting to confirm it is the Negus design. It’s particularly significant for us because it’s the first design worn by the British Airways that we all know today, with the distinctive lower case ‘a’ and the Union Flag on the tailfin.’ 

A glimpse of the jet's tail fin could be seen on Wednesday, as the new-look RAF Voyager prepared for take off today (Thursday)

A glimpse of the jet’s tail fin could be seen on Wednesday, as the new-look RAF Voyager prepared for take off today (Thursday)

A file photo of the RAF Voyager in its usual military grey, which makes it less visible in the sky - unlike the colourful new design

A file photo of the RAF Voyager in its usual military grey, which makes it less visible in the sky – unlike the colourful new design 

After receiving a paint job at Marshall Aerospace at Cambridge airport, the public was able to get its first glimpse of the new look RAF Voyager

After receiving a paint job at Marshall Aerospace at Cambridge airport, the public was able to get its first glimpse of the new look RAF Voyager 

The Voyager took off from Cambridge City Airport on Thursday afternoon as it returned back to base at RAF Brize Norton

The Voyager took off from Cambridge City Airport on Thursday afternoon as it returned back to base at RAF Brize Norton

An RAF source said: ‘Boris and others will use it to go around the world and wave the British flag.

‘It will be diplomatic and it will be appropriate. I imagine it will be in great demand when it gets its new and smart paint job.’

The source played down the prospect of a lurid Austin Powers look for the plane, adding: ‘The aircraft will not be a flying Union Jack. It won’t be the whole of the airplane, it will be a part of it.’

The source said the plane could be changed back to grey ‘very quickly’ if deemed necessary in a wartime scenario.

‘It will have a lot of functionalities. If we went to war, and all the assets needed to deploy to the Middle East for example, we would change the colour,’ they said.

Labour’s Louise Haigh said: ‘When families across the country are worried about their jobs, health and the education of their children, they will rightly question the Government’s priorities when they are spending almost a million pounds redecorating a plane which in all likelihood has been grounded for months because of the coronavirus.’

The expensive paint job was panned by critics, who suggested it would make the PM look like Austin Powers on tour

The expensive paint job was panned by critics, who suggested it would make the PM look like Austin Powers on tour

He said that the leaked diagram, which was being shared among the aviation industry as early as Wednesday night, seemed 'legitimate'

He said that the leaked diagram, which was being shared among the aviation industry as early as Wednesday night, seemed ‘legitimate’

In May 2018 Mr Johnson asked why the Voyager needed to be grey as he said he needed his own plane in order to boost Britain’s post-Brexit trade prospects. 

Mr Johnson added that it was ‘striking’ such a plane did not yet exist and suggested that it could be a different colour.

He added: ‘And also, why does it have to be grey? The taxpayers won’t want us to have some luxurious new plane. But I certainly think it’s striking that we don’t seem to have access to such a thing at the moment.’ 

The history behind British Airways’ iconic Negus design

Boris Johnson’s new £900,000 red, white and blue RAF Voyager plane bears a striking resemblance to the retro Negus livery. 

The Negus livery first adorned the British Airways fleet from 1974 to 1980, directly after the merger of BOAC and BEA, which led to the formation of the airline customers know today.

When it initially flew, the Negus livery was the first time an aircraft had carried ‘British Airways’ since 1939, back when  the original British Airways Limited merged with Imperial Airways to form BOAC.

In the design, the Union Jack is not present on the body of the plane and is instead adorned on the tailfin of the aircraft. 

The livery was designed by creative agency Negus & Negus, giving it its name. 

As BEA and BOAC merged to become British Airways in 1974, elements of both of their liveries were incorporated together to create the Negus. 

Now, to mark BA’s centenary, a Boeing 747 will be repainted in the Negus design. 

The 747-400, registration G-CIVB, entered the IAC paint bay at Dublin Airport last Saturday where it is being repainted with the first version of the Negus livery. 

The repainted 747 will return to Heathrow and enter service later this month flying to long-haul destinations served by the Boeing 747, with the design remaining on the aircraft until it retires in 2022.

The Negus is the fourth and final heritage design to be painted on a British Airways aircraft. 

Alex Cruz, British Airways’ Chairman and CEO, said: ‘Rumours have been circulating for quite some time about this final livery, so it’s exciting to confirm it is the Negus design. It’s particularly significant for us because it’s the first design worn by the British Airways that we all know today, with the distinctive lower case ‘a’ and the Union Flag on the tailfin.’ 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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