Welcome to our 100 part series on the history of British Airways and its predecessor airlines.
The series runs from today, Monday 22 July 2019, until the day of BA’s centenary, Sunday 25 August 2019.
We’ll be covering the adverts, aircraft, airlines, cabins, liveries and routes from 25 August 1919 right up to the present day.
BA is of course an airline that has brought us some of the world’s most successful marketing campaigns, pulled off a major corporate financial and reputational turnaround, employed some of the most high profile and outspoken executives in the industry, and launched a number of world firsts.
It’s also an airline that has often found itself on the world’s newspaper front pages for all the wrong reasons, become caught up in major geopolitical events, and been embroiled in some of the most bitter corporate rivalries in aviation.
This is of course not just the story of BA, but also the birth of international passenger travel, its transition to a mode of mass transportation we take for granted today, and the changing industry dynamics in recent decades.
Before we begin, some caveats:
This is an airline with a long and complex history that encompasses at least four major airlines. It has acquired many more. Some parts of its history are easier to research and document than others. Airline fleets and route networks are vastly less complicated than they used to be. A degree of simplification is required when covering the past. Accounts of the early days of civil aviation are hard to come by and some differ.
There is also an element of subjectivity and a natural bias towards the past 50 years as material is much easier to come by. There is no great science behind the running order – some articles will come as no surprise, others may do.
Also, this list has not been reviewed or verified by any other parties, so should be treated as a draft of history.
With all that out of the way, let’s get started: