Happy birthday British Airways –
100th anniversary of Britain’s
biggest airline

This summer British Airways celebrates 100 years since its first ever flight took off from London to Paris.

To mark British Airways’ 100th birthday, the airline recently launched a Centenary Archive Collection of never-before-seen photographs and videos from its 100-year history. The collection includes images from Concorde, Royal flights and vintage airline posters. There’s also an interactive year-by-year timeline illustrating how British Airways became one of the world’s leading airlines.

There’s hundreds of historical photos and videos in the collection, as well as articles explaining how the British Airways we know today evolved from a single-engine De Havilland aircraft flying the world’s first daily international scheduled flight to Paris, to become a leading airline flying more than 45 million customers a year to more than 200 destinations across the world.

A brief history of British Airways

  • On 25 August 1919, British Airways’ forerunner company, Aircraft Transport and Travel Limited (AT&T), launched the world's first daily international scheduled air service between London and Paris
  • In 1924, Britain's four main fledgling airlines, which had by then evolved into Instone, Handley Page, Daimler Airways (a successor to AT&T) and British Air Marine Navigation Company Limited, merged to form Imperial Airways Limited
  • By 1925, Imperial Airways was providing services to Paris, Brussels, Basel, Cologne and Zurich. Meanwhile, a number of smaller UK air transport companies had started flights and in 1935, they merged to form the original privately-owned British Airways Limited, which became Imperial Airways' principal UK competitor on European routes
  • Following a Government review, Imperial Airways and British Airways were nationalised in 1939 to form British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC). Continental European and domestic flights were flown by a new airline, British European Airways (BEA) from 1946. BOAC introduced services to New York in 1946, Japan in 1948, Chicago in 1954 and the US west coast in 1957. BEA developed a domestic network to various points in the United Kingdom, including Belfast, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Manchester
  • From 1946 until 1960, BOAC and BEA were the principal British operators of scheduled international passenger and cargo services - and they preserved Britain's pioneering role in the industry. The 1950s saw the world enter the passenger jet era - led by BOAC, with the Comet flying to Johannesburg in 1952, halving the previous flight time
  • Additional airlines began to pass into BEA’s ownership and in 1967, the Government recommended a holding board be responsible for BOAC and BEA, with the establishment of a second force airline, resulting in British Caledonian being born in 1970
  • Two years later, the businesses of BOAC and BEA were combined under the newly formed British Airways Board, with the separate airlines coming together as British Airways in 1974
  • In July 1979, the Government announced its intention to sell shares in British Airways - and in February 1987 British Airways was privatised
  • In January 2011 the International Consolidated Airlines Group (IAG) was formed when British Airways and Iberia merged. IAG has since also become the parent company of Aer Lingus and Vueling, and in 2017, IAG launched LEVEL a new low-cost airline brand that operates from Barcelona, Paris and Vienna.

To find out more about some of the ways the carrier will be marking the auspicious occasion, check out the website: https://www.britishairways.com/100.