British Airways (BA) was born in 1972, when the British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) and British European Airways Corporation (BEA) managements were combined under the newly formed British Airways Board. It inherited a fleet of mainly UK-built aircraft, with the exception of the Boeing 707 and Boeing 747 from BOAC.
British Airways inaugurated the world’s first supersonic passenger service in January, 1976, being one of the only two airlines to operate the Aérospatiale-BAC Concorde, the other being Air France.
In 1981, Sir John King was appointed Chairman to prepare the airline for privatization.
King managed to turn British Airways into one of the most profitable air carriers in the world by 1987, when the airline was privatised and floated on the London Stock Exchange.
In July, 1987, British Airways took over British Caledonian.
During the early 1990s, British Airways became world’s most profitable airline, using “The World’s Favourite Airline” slogan.
In 1993, British Airways formed British Asia Airways and acquired Brymon Airways to form BA Connect.
Robert Ayling became CEO in 1993, establishing Go in 1998 and recording cost savings of £750 million by 2000.
Unfortunately, British Airways’ profits dropped by 84% in 1999, and Ayiling was removed in 2000.
On the 24th of October, 2003, British Airways operated the final commercial Concorde flight, from New York to London.
In March 2007, BA CityFlyer, a wholly owned subsidiary airline of British Airways (the formerly CityFlyer Express acquired in 1999 and integrated into the BA’s short-haul operations in 2001), started operations from its main base at London City Airport.
In the years to follow, British Airways started recovering, and in late July, 2008, announced a merger plan with Iberia Airlines that would lead to the two companies joining forces while retaining their separate brands, as it happened with the KLM – Air France merger.
In 2008, British Airways’ new home at London Heathrow Airport’s Terminal 5 is opened.
In 2009, Club World London City, an all business class service with only 32 seats, launches.
In 2010, a redesigned First class cabin is unveiled and a joint business with American Airlines and Iberia launches.
In 2011, British Airways merger with Iberia is completed to form the parent company IAG, the world’s third-largest airline in terms of annual revenue and the second largest airline group in Europe
In 2013, British Airways has taken delivery of its first of 42 Boeing 787s, with the first of its 12 Airbus A380s due to touch down in the UK July 4. British Airways will operate the 787 on its Heathrow-Toronto service from September 1 and Heathrow-Newark service from October 1. Seats on the A380 are on sale for travel from October 15 to Los Angeles and from November 15 to Hong Kong.
In 2015, IAG, the parent company of British Airlines and Iberia, bought the Irish airline Aer Lingus, adding the fourth passenger airline to the group after taking control of Vueling in April 2013.
In 2016, BA Cityflyer, the British Airlines subsidiary operating a network of domestic and European services with an Embraer fleet, began operations from London Stansted Airport.
Starting October 2016, British Airways, in partnership with AirPortr, London’s on-demand luggage transfer service company, became the first airline in the world to offer the AirPortr +Bag Check-In service, a remote check-in and bag collection service for British Airways customers flying out of Heathrow, Gatwick, and London City Airport. The AirPortr + Bag Check-In service costs from £30 for the first bag to/from Central London., and each additional bag costs only £10 per bag (regardless of weight and size, but the bag weight and size must be within the airline’s allowance).
From 2017, British Airways no longer be serves complimentary food menu on domestic and short-haul flights in Economy cabins (UK Domestic and Euro Traveller). Instead, partnering with another iconic British brand, Marks & Spencer, Economy class passengers will be offered a new ‘M&S on board’ menu, with a wide selection of sandwiches, savory snacks and sweet treats available for purchase at prices under £5 (from just £1 to £4.95, and customers can pay with Avios or debit/credit card).
In April 2018, Basic Economy fares were introduced on long-haul routes. Not including a checked baggage allowance or free seat selection, customers are offered a lower fare and ancillary services for a fee.
On March 31, 2018, British Airways became the airline to operate the world’s first and only billion-dollar route. British Airways’ New York JFK – London Heathrow route generated more than $1 billion in one year (from April 1, 2017, to March 31, 2018).
In September 2018, OpenSkies ceased operations after 10 years and was replaced by Level, an airline brand established by IAG to operate low-cost flights.
In March 2019, British Airways unveiled Club Suite, the new Business Class flat-bed seats in a 1-2-1 configuration that offers a suite door for greater privacy. Club Suite will be introduced on the first Airbus A350 aircraft scheduled for delivery in July.
In 2019, British Airways celebrated 100 years of flying as the airline can trace its origins back to the birth of civil aviation with the world’s first international scheduled air service operated by Aircraft Transport and Travel Limited (AT&T), British Airways’ forerunner company, between London and Paris on August 25, 1919.
In the incredibly difficult year of 2020, British Airways took decisive action to restructure its business to be able to compete in a much-changed industry. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the airline was forced to curtail its operations, reducing its flying schedule by around 66% compared to 2019 and laying off 10,000 employees. The airline also retired its entire fleet of 32 Boeing B747-400 aircraft after nearly 50 years of the first flight operated with this type of aircraft. British Airways implemented a range of measures to support passenger confidence in returning to the skies.
In 2021, British Airways continued to be impacted by COVID-19-related travel restrictions, its capacity being severely reduced first by the UK-wide lockdown and later by the UK government’s travel restrictions and the introduction of the traffic light travel system. Passenger capacity in the first six months of 2021 was 14% of the equivalent period in 2019. Nevertheless, British Airways continues its outstanding work on safety, aiming to ensure the delivery of an unrivaled customer experience adapted to meet both changing customer expectations and regulatory requirements.
In July 2021, British Airways concluded its first sustainability-linked EETC (enhanced equipment trust certificates) financing, successfully raising $785 million and securing funds for seven future aircraft deliveries in the remainder of 2021.
The first fatal incident involving British Airways happened in November 1974, when British Airways Flight 870 from Dubai to Heathrow was hijacked, one hostage being killed before the hijackers surrendered.
The second occurred two years later, when due to an air traffic control error, a British Airways Trident 3B collided with a Inex Adria DC9-32, all passengers and crew members onboard the two planes being killed (113 on the DC9 and 63 on the Trident).
The last fatal accident involving a British Airways plane took place on the 22nd of August, 1985, when a British Airtours 737-200 aircraft failed to take off due to engine failure, leading to a punctured fuel tank and a fire that caused 53 passenger deaths and killed 2 of the crew out of 131 passengers and six crew members.