28 JANUARY 2019


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Article from BTNews 28 JANUARY 2019

COMMENT: Trading in nostalgia – BA and fake news

Last week British Airways issued a press release telling the tale of British air transport. Nothing wrong with that. But to say BA is 100 years old is pure fake news.  

Who is BA trying to fool? It has also unveiled a Boeing B747 in the original BOAC colours. Nothing wrong with that either. But BTN believes BA should be concentrating on the real positive. What about rebranding its First Class "Concorde Class"?  It has Concorde lounges at Heathrow and Kennedy. Or naming its new fleet of Airbus A350s after British Nobel Prize winners (or great sports people, entertainers, writers, artists etc). Better to voice at a dinner party that one flew Concorde Class. It was on 2 March 1969 that the Anglo French engineering masterpiece made its maiden flight. Fifty years ago! That's something to celebrate. (Please see Concorde Anniversary in this issue.) 

On 25 August 1919, Aircraft Transport and Travel Ltd (AT&T), launched the world's first daily international scheduled air service between London and Paris. It was operated by a DH4a carrying a single passenger and took 2.5hr to fly from Hounslow Heath to Le Bourget. Eurostar takes less time. 

The link between AT&T and today’s BA is tenuous to say the least. BA was created on 31 March 1974 by the amalgamation of British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC – founded 1939) and British European Airways (BEA – founded 1946). That makes it almost 45 years old!
A BOAC-liveried Boeing B747, G-BYGC, will arrive back at Heathrow from engineering on 18 February to enter the airline’s flying schedule in a paint scheme reminiscent of the airline's initial B747s. BA tells us this is the first of a series of designs to commemorate the airline's history.  See AND FINALLY in this issue.

Perhaps we might see a B777 dressed up as Northeast, then Cambrian on a Dreamliner, a BEA A320 for European services and, at LCY, a Cityflyer Embraer in the Brymon colour scheme! No ethnic tails, please!

Will the management allow a BA aircraft to be repainted in the colours of British Caledonian, one of many airlines swallowed up since the airline was created by Roy Watts?

Sorry, but to say British Airways is 100 years old is pure nonsense. Mr Walsh and Mr Cruz should know better. 

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OUR READERS' FINEST WORDS (All times and dates are GMT)

All comments are filtered to exclude any excesses but the Editor does not have to agree with what is being said. 100 words maximum

David Hurst, Pulborough, West Sussex

The first British Airways flew scheduled flights from Gatwick when the original airport opened in 1936. The first flight was 17th May 1936 although there had been earlier ones from Heston. Although the original Gatwick airport was revolutionary, in many senses, it did not have a hard runway and wet weather meant that in February 1937 the airline had to move to Croydon

John Morris,

Please, PLEASE get over this wallowing in nostalgia.Now - more importantly than ever - Let's look forwards instead of backwards. Concorde was an engineering triumph but a commercial disaster, once the full costs were included. BA is NOT our national airline - it is simply part of a larger global string of corporations. You accuse BA - quite rightly - of 'fake news (others would hve rather stronger words for it) - don't fall into the same trap youself. This reinvention of our 'glorious past', and constant wallowing in our past 'achievements' is what has brought the UK to the abyss.

Robert Shaw, Burgess Hill, UK

Yes, BCAL was a class act. BUA were good too, just sad that the governments of the period allowed them to be taken over by BA.

Rohan Alce, Haywards Heath

BA should definitely paint an aircraft in BCal colours. Best airline livery ever. Biased? Moi?

Wayne Fessey, Hadleigh, Essex

My understanding of the lineage may well be inaccurate and I would welcome any clarifiaction. BA - 100 years of transportation: Handley Page Transport Ltd was an airline company founded in 1919 which merged with others to eventually over the years form British Airways. Handley Page Transport Ltd was an airline company founded in 1919 by Frederick Handley Page in the new era of civil flying after the First World War. On 31 March 1924 the assets and operations of Handley Page Transport were merged with three* other British airlines to found Imperial Airways. Imperial Airways was the early British commercial long-range airline, operating from 1924 to 1939 and serving parts of Europe but principally the British Empire routes to South Africa, India and the Far East, including Malaya and Hong Kong. Imperial Airways (Founded 31 March 1924) merged with British Airways Ltd 24 November 1939. Headquarters: Croydon, England. There were local partnership companies; Qantas in Australia (founded 16th November 1920). Imperial Airways was merged into the British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) in 1939, which in turn merged with British European Airways (BEA) in 1974 to form British Airways. Predecessor: *British Marine Air Navigation *Daimler Airway Handley Page Transport *Instone Air Line Successor: British Airways Ltd I have always been interested in British Aviation history, as my great uncle Captain Gordon Olley (first to fly a million miles) used to be a pilot for Handley Page Transport and Imperial Airways out of Croydon Airport, before starting his own Olley Airlines (which became part of Morton Air Services that merged with Airwork Group - Hunting Clan leading to the creation of British United Airways (BUA), into British Caladonian, then in 1988 BA).

Malcolm Gee, London

The name British Airways goes back to 1935 when Hillman Airways, Spartan Air Lines, United Airways and British Continental Airways were amalgamated to form a new UK air carrier known at first as ‘Allied British Airways’ but soon became just British Airways. After the start of operations in 1936, Highland Airways and Northern and Scottish Airways joined the group. The privately-owned British Airways took over northern European rights from Imperial Airways. In 1938/39 the UK government acquired the shareholdings of British Airways and Imperial Airways to create BOAC which began operations in 1940. BEA (British European Airways) was spun out of BOAC on 1 January 1946 as a crown corporation in its own right. The combined BOAC and BEA was created as British Airways on 31 March 1974, and privatised in February 1987 on the London Stock Exchange.