This article was first published in the summer of 2019 as part of a 100 part series on the history of BA and its predecessor airlines. You can read the full series in numerical order here, or by theme here.
British Airways as we know it today did not come into existence until 1974.
So how does it celebrate its centenary in 2019?
Unlike KLM, which also celebrates its centenary his year BA has not operated under one name for 100 years. And, unlike Qantas which celebrates its centenary in 2020, BA cannot claim to have had 100 years’ uninterrupted commercial operations.
Well, to buy in to BA’s centenary you have to acknowledge that, over time, aircraft and airlines have been transferred through various airlines. In truth, it is the 100th anniversary of international civil aviation in the UK.
The First Flight
BA traces its history back to Aircraft Transport and Travel Ltd which began flights from Hounslow Heath to Paris on 25 August 1919.
This was one of number of companies to begin scheduled operations in 1919. However, due to competition from airlines in mainland Europe, it soon folded.
A successor to Aircraft Transport and Travel Ltd, Daimler Airways, combined with a number of other airlines to form Imperial Airways in 1924.
It operated both short-haul routes in Europe and established new routes to Africa, the Middle East and Asia.
Imperial Airways adopted the “Speedbird” logo designed by Theyre Lee Elliot in 1932 which BA retained as part of its livery until its Landor livery in the 1980s. This subsequently evolved into the Speedwing and the Speedmarque, which you see on BA aircraft today.
Imperial Airways, together with Qantas, formed Qantas Empire Airways to operate joint-services between the UK and Australia from 1935 – a relationship which endured between Qantas and Imperial Airways’ successor airlines for nearly 80 years.
The original British Airways formed in 1935, operating from Gatwick. Both British Airways and Imperial Airways were nationalised to form British Overseas Airways Corporation in 1939.Continue reading “BA100: 100. How Does An Airline Established In 1974…”