100 years of British Airways: Remarkable journey from a converted bomber transporting grouse to afternoon tea at 35,000ft

This year has been a big one for Britain’s national carrier as British Airways marks its 100th birthday. August 25, 2019, in fact, marks an important date in BA’s legacy. As one of the world’s most well-known airlines, there’s a lot of history. On this day, year back in 1919, Aircraft Transport and Travel Limited launched the world’s first daily international scheduled flight between London and Paris. While the leading carrier marks a century of an iconic British brand that evolved from the birth of civil aviation to today’s global network, BA has been celebrating its centenary year with a major flight sale earlier in 2019 where it sold flights to long haul destinations, including Rio de Janeiro and Cape Town, for just £100 each way.

To mark the official centenary, BA painted four of its aircraft in historic liveries. Also, it launched the BA 2119: Flight of the Future installation at the Saatchi Gallery in London, which coincided with a report on what passengers think aviation will look like over the next 100 years. For its onboard passengers, the British airline launched Celebrate BA 100, a new channel for its in-flight entertainment on all its flights throughout August, September and October. The new channel features a selection of British films, TV shows and music, including The Lost World – the first film ever shown on an Imperial Airways flight in 1925.

British Airways legendary 100 years history
British Airways legendary 100 years history

 

Aircraft Transport & Travel (AT&T), predecessor of today’s British Airways

AT&T was one of British Airway’s predecessors. On 25 August 1919, the first customer flew from Hounslow Heath to Paris in a single-engine DH4A aircraft. The plane was a converted De Havilland bomber, the sole passenger a journalist and the cargo, a list of British staples including Devonshire cream, jam, several brace of grouse and newspapers. This flight was operated by the little-known AT&T, a carrier we know as British Airways today. While this short trip might seem unexceptional today, it marked the first step in the history of modern commercial aviation. 23 year later, in 1942, Winston Churchill became the first British Prime Minister to fly with British Airways make a transatlantic flight. Later, BA welcomed its first Boeing 707 to its fleet.

Aircraft Transport & Travel (AT&T), predecessor of today’s British Airways
Aircraft Transport & Travel (AT&T), predecessor of today’s British Airways

The airline has come a long way from its one-flight-a day origins in a converted First World War bomber. Today a British Airways aircraft takes off somewhere around the world every 90 seconds to one of more than 200 destinations across the globe. Not only that, the leading airline employs 45,000 staff and has over 45 million customers annually, to whom it provides over 25 million cups of tea and 1.25 bottles of champagne every year. Truly, BA’s existence goes beyond such facts and figures. No matter what ups and downs it suffered, British Airways flies back through the century.

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