Travel News

British Airways turns 50 and keeps quiet about it – so what do experts think?

Simon Calder’s Travel

Happy 50th birthday, British Airways. BA started flying on 1 April 1974. The carrier was created from British European Airways and intercontinental airline BOAC, plus two smaller operators: Cambrian Airways and Northeast Air.

Initially, BA was wholly state-owned by the UK government. It was privatised in 1987 and today is part of a Spanish company, IAG, which in turn is partially state-owned by the Qatari government.

British Airways is saying nothing about its half-centenary: five years ago, BA marked 100 years since one of its ancestor airlines, Aircraft Transport and Travel Ltd, began operating in 1919.

Fifty years ago, flying was way beyond the means of most people. On 1 April 1974, the UK’s brand-new airline would fly you from London to Tangier for £62.50 – the equivalent of £567 today. Fifty years on, the Moroccan city is one of dozens of destinations that have fallen off the British Airways route network but reappeared on others: this month Ryanair will get you to North Africa £25, as long as you buy online.

In the days before the internet, passengers were encouraged to book at British Airways travel shop on many high streets – including Nottingham, Watford and Bristol.

BA remains formidably profitable. It still has the majority of the slots at London Heathrow airport. And even though two out of five BA flights last year were more than 15 minutes late, demand for using the airport appears insatiable.

British Airways is recognised around the world

(Nick Morrish/British Airways )

In 2024, the chairman and chief executive of British Airways, Sean Doyle, launched a £7bn modernisation plan, saying: “We’re going to take delivery of new aircraft, introduce new cabins, elevate our customer care, focus on operational performance and address our environmental impact by reducing our emissions and creating a culture of sustainability.”

The airline boss says he is “laser-focused on transforming our business and fixing any pain points for our customers”. From Wednesday 3 April, members of BA’s Executive Club will start to be able to send messages free of charge on a single device using the airline’s WiFi. New aircraft cabins and seats are promised on the latest Airbus A320 series short-haul planes.

Much else is changing. But in the absence of any comment from BA, The Independent has invited some illustrious figures in…

Click Here to Read the Full Original Article at The Independent Travel…