British Airways is celebrating “90 years of leading the travel industry,” it claims in a press release today.
August 25: British Airways is celebrating “90 years of leading the travel industry,” it claims in a press release today.
On August 25, 1919 George Stevenson-Reece became the first fare-paying passenger on a scheduled international flight, flying in an Airco DH4A, piloted by Captain E.H. Lawford from Hounslow Heath to Le Bourget Airport in Paris. The fare was 42 guineas return (the equivalent of £1,706 today) and the service operated by Air Transport & Travel Ltd., which stopped services on February 28, 1921. Its assets were taken over by Lieutenant Colonel Frank Searle’s Daimler Air Hire company to form Daimler Airway.
On March 31, 1924 Daimler Airway joined with Handley Page Transport, British Marine Air Navigation Co Ltd. and Instone Air Line Ltd. to form Imperial Airways. In 1935 smaller air transport companies merged to form the original privately owned British Airways Ltd., and four years later it and Imperial Airways were nationalised to form British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC). In 1972, the BOAC and British European Airways (BEA) managements were combined under the British Airways Board, with British Airways launched on April 1, 1974. The national company was privatised in 1987 with floatation on the London Stock Exchange.
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said: “British Airways has never lost the pioneering spirit and vision that saw it take to the skies with the world’s first daily international flight from London to Paris on this day in 1919. Ninety years on, the world’s most iconic airline is still proudly flying the flag and remains a great British brand.”
British Airways chairman Martin Broughton said: “Over the past nine decades, British Airways has played its part in many historic episodes. We provided the first air links to far-flung capitals in the days of empire, flew Winston Churchill across the Atlantic during wartime, brought Queen Elizabeth back to Britain after the passing of George VI, repeatedly led the way with aircraft innovation and have often proudly transported home our sports teams from success overseas. We have a rich history supporting Britain and will carry this forward to our centenary and beyond.”