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British Airways

By Wikipedia,
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British Airways
Founded 31 March 1974 (After BOAC & BEA merger)
Frequent flyer program Executive Club
Premier (Invitation only)
Member lounge Concorde Room
Galleries First
Galleries Club
Galleries Arrivals
First Lounge
Terraces Lounge
Executive Club Lounge
Gate 1 Lounge
Alliance Oneworld
Fleet size 228 (+59 orders) excl.subsidiaries
Destinations 150 excl.subsidiaries and code-shares
Company slogan Upgrade to British Airways
Headquarters Waterside, Harmondsworth, London Borough of Hillingdon, England, United Kingdom
Key people Willie Walsh (CEO)

British Airways plc (LSE: BAY) is the national flag carrier of the United Kingdom. The airline, headquartered in Waterside, Harmondsworth, London Borough of Hillingdon, is the largest airline in the United Kingdom based on fleet size, international flights and international destinations. Its main hubs are London Heathrow and London Gatwick.

The British Airways Group was formed on 1 September 1974 through nationalisation by the (then) Labour Government. BA was formed from two large London-based airlines BOAC and BEA and two much smaller regional airlines Cambrian Airways Cardiff and Northeast Airlines Newcastle. All four companies were dissolved on 31 March 1974 to form British Airways (BA). The company was privatised in February 1987. It expanded with the acquisition of British Caledonian in 1988 and some of the routes of Gatwick-based carrier Dan-Air in 1992. The formation of Richard Branson's Virgin Atlantic in 1984 began a tense relationship with BA which ended in "one of the most bitter and protracted libel actions in aviation history" in 1993 in which BA apologised "unreservedly" for a "dirty tricks" campaign against Virgin and paid damages and legal costs.

For a number of years the airline had a large Boeing fleet, but in November 1998 it placed its first direct order for Airbus aircraft. The company's next major order was the start of its replacement of its long haul fleet, ordering Airbus A380s and Boeing 787s in 2007. The centrepiece of the airline's long haul fleet is the Boeing 747-400; the airline is the largest operator of this type in the world.

British Airways has discontinued all direct overseas and internal flights from UK airports other than from Heathrow and Gatwick. BA's UK passengers originating at non-London airports must now connect via London or use other airlines with direct services.

British Airways is listed on the London Stock Exchange and is a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index. Until 2008 British Airways was the largest airline of the United Kingdom, measured by passenger numbers. In 2008 the airline carried 35.7 million passengers. Rival United Kingdom carrier EasyJet carried 44.5 million passengers in the same year, taking the title from British Airways.


Imperial Airways Handley Page H.P.42. Hanno
Imperial Airways Handley Page H.P.42. Hanno

On 31 March 1924, Britain's four pioneer airlines that had started up in the immediate post war period—Instone Air Line, Handley Page Transport, Daimler Airways and British Marine Air Navigation Co Ltd—merged to form Imperial Airways Limited, which developed its Empire routes to Africa, India and later to Australia.

Meanwhile a number of smaller UK air transport companies had begun operating, and some of these merged in 1935 to form the original privately owned British Airways Ltd. Following a government review, Imperial Airways and British Airways were nationalised in November 1939 to form the British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC).

BOAC D.H. Comet 1 at Heathrow in 1953
BOAC D.H. Comet 1 at Heathrow in 1953

BOAC Boeing 707 at Heathrow in 1960.
BOAC Boeing 707 at Heathrow in 1960.

Post-war, BOAC continued to operate long-haul services, other than routes to South America - these were flown by British South American Airways, which was merged back into BOAC in 1949. Continental European and domestic flights were flown by a new nationalised airline, British European Airways Corporation (BEA), which compulsorily took over the scheduled services of existing UK independent airlines.

On 2 May 1952 BOAC became the world's first airline to operate jet airliners. The inaugural flight with the de Havilland Comet 1 was from London to Johannesburg. However, the Comet's service introduction was plagued by structural problems and accidents, leading to its replacement with the upgraded Comet 4 models in 1958.

The birth of the mass package holiday business meant change for the airline industry. BEA met the challenge by establishing BEA Airtours in 1970. In 1972 the BOAC and BEA managements were combined under the newly formed British Airways Board, with the physical operations of the separate airlines coming together as British Airways on 1 April 1974, under the guidance of David Nicolson as Chairman of the board. British Airways, simultaneously with Air France, inaugurated the world's first supersonic passenger service with Concorde in January 1976.

In 1975 British Airways was headquartered in the Victoria Terminal in London. Its international division was headquartered at the Speedbird House by Heathrow Airport, while its European division was headquartered at Bealine House, Ruislip, Middlesex. The regional division was headquartered in Ruford House, Hounslow.


Sir John King, later Lord King, was appointed Chairman in 1981 with the mission of preparing the airline for privatisation. King hired Colin Marshall as CEO in 1983. King was credited with transforming the loss-making giant into one of the most profitable air carriers in the world, boldly claiming to be "The World's Favourite Airline", while many other large airlines struggled. The airline's fleet and route map were overhauled in the early years of King's tenure, with brand and advertising experts being recruited to change the airline's image. Over 23,000 jobs were shed in the early 1980s, though King managed the considerable trick of boosting staff morale and modernising operations at the same time. Offering generous inducements for staff to leave led to record losses of £545 million, to the cost of taxpayers but to the benefit of the future privatised company.

British Airways Hawker Siddeley Trident in 1974-1984 livery with enlarged
British Airways Hawker Siddeley Trident in 1974-1984 livery with enlarged "British" titles.

The flag carrier was privatised and floated on the London Stock Exchange in February 1987 by the Conservative government, the initial share offering being 11 times oversubscribed. In July 1987 British Airways effected the controversial takeover of Britain's "second" airline British Caledonian, but kept the Caledonian name alive for a token period by rebranding its charter subsidiary British Airtours as Caledonian Airways. In 1992 it absorbed some of the routes of Gatwick-based carrier Dan-Air.

"Dirty tricks"

Soon after BA's privatisation, Richard Branson's Virgin Atlantic, which began with one route and one Boeing 747 in 1984, was beginning to emerge as a competitor on some of BA's most lucrative routes. Following Virgin's highly publicised mercy mission to Iraq to fly home hostages of Saddam Hussein in 1991, King is reported to have told Marshall and his PA Director David Burnside to "do something about Branson". This began the campaign of "dirty tricks" that ended in Branson suing King and British Airways for libel in 1992. King countersued Branson and the case went to trial in 1993. British Airways, faced with likely defeat, settled the case, giving £500,000 to Branson and a further £110,000 to his airline; further, BA was to pay the legal fees of up to £3 million. Branson divided his compensation among his staff, the so-called "BA bonus."

Changes and subsidiaries

Deutsche BA 737 at Berlin in 2002.
Deutsche BA 737 at Berlin in 2002.

During the 1990s BA became the world's most profitable airline under the slogan "The World's Favourite Airline". In 1992 BA bought the small German domestic airline Delta Air Transport and renamed it Deutsche BA. By the time it was sold in June 2003, DBA was operating 16 Boeing 737s and had 800 staff.

In 1993 British Airways began planning for its current corporate headquarters at Harmondsworth Moor.

Lord King stepped down as chairman in 1993 and was replaced by former deputy Colin Marshall, who initially combined the roles of CEO and Chairman. Bob Ayling, who later took on the role of CEO, was appointed Managing Director by Marshall. Lord King was appointed President, a role created specifically for him and which he retained until his death in July 2005.

In 1995 BA formed British Asia Airways, a subsidiary based in the Republic of China, to operate between London and Taipei. Owing to political sensitivities, British Asia Airways had not only a different name but also a different livery, the Union Jack tailfin being replaced by the Chinese characters 英亞.

Bob Ayling era

British Airways Boeing 777 in 1984-1997 Landor livery.
British Airways Boeing 777 in 1984-1997 Landor livery.

British Airways Boeing 747 pushed back at the Bangkok Suvarnabhumi.
British Airways Boeing 747 pushed back at the Bangkok Suvarnabhumi.

In 1996 British Airways, with its newly appointed Chief Executive Bob Ayling, entered a period of turbulence. Increased competition, high oil prices, and a strong pound hurt profits. BA management and trade unions clashed and the disruption cost the company hundreds of millions of pounds. In 1997 Ayling dropped BA's traditional Union Flag tailfin livery in favour of world design tailfins, in an effort to change its image from a strictly British and aloof carrier to a more cosmopolitan airline. The move was not a success and Ayling slowed the process, eventually declaring the fleet would sport a dual livery; half a Union Flag design, half the world design tailfins. Ayling pursued antitrust immunity with American Airlines, but this was unsuccessful due to the conditions placed on the deal by regulatory authorities, the most painful of which would have been the sacrifice of landing slots at Heathrow.

Positive news during Ayling's leadership included cost savings of £750m and the establishment of the successful, but highly subsidised, Go in 1998. Go was a low-cost carrier intended to compete in the rapidly emerging "no-frills" segment. After four years of successful operations, the airline was sold off to venture capitalists 3i and later merged with EasyJet. Ayling also sought a reduction of capacity, cancelling Boeing 747-400 orders in favour of the Boeing 777-200ER and rationalising BA's short-haul fleet with an order for the Airbus A320 family.

Rod Eddington era

In 1999 British Airways reported a 50 percent slump in profits, its worst since privatisation. In March 2000 Bob Ayling was removed from his position. British Airways announced Rod Eddington as his successor in May. Eddington set about cutting the workforce further, in response to the slump caused by the 11 September attacks in 2001. In June 2003, the German subsidiary Deutsche BA was sold to investment group Intro Verwaltungsgesellschaft.

On 8 September 2004 British Airways announced that it was to sell its 18.5 percent stake in Qantas, but would continue the alliance (such as sharing revenue), particularly on the Kangaroo Routes. The £425 million raised was used to reduce the airline's debt. Marshall, who had been appointed a life peer in 1998, retired as Chairman in July 2004 and was replaced by Martin Broughton, former Chairman of British American Tobacco. On 8 March 2005, Broughton announced that former Aer Lingus CEO Willie Walsh would take over from Rod Eddington upon his retirement in September 2005.

Willie Walsh era

British Airways operations at London Heathrow Airport.
British Airways operations at London Heathrow Airport.

British Airways Boeing 747-400 in Oneworld livery at London Heathrow Airport
British Airways Boeing 747-400 in Oneworld livery at London Heathrow Airport

In September 2005 new CEO Willie Walsh, former Aer Lingus boss, announced dramatic changes to the management of British Airways, with the aim of saving £300 million by 2008, the cost of the move to Heathrow's Terminal 5. He has presided over the disposal of BA Connect to Flybe, stating "Despite the best efforts of the entire team at BA Connect, we do not see any prospect of profitability in its current form." BA has retained a 15% stake in Flybe following the sale.

Since 2002, BA has strongly marketed the full-service nature of its remaining domestic flights (now just to Heathrow and Gatwick) by the use of principal airports, and provision of complimentary food and drink. This is in response to the low cost operators' aggressive pricing, even though its main full-service UK rival bmi has now abandoned some "frills" on its domestic network. Walsh on the other hand pledged to retain the full-service model on its much reduced UK network, seeing it as a means of distinguishing BA from the competition and believing that customers will be willing to pay extra for added levels of service.

The airline won the Skytrax Airline of the Year award in 2006 for the first time. It also won OAG Airline of the Year 2007, Best Airline Based in Western Europe 2007, Best Transatlantic Airline 2007, and Best Europe - Asia/Australia Airline 2007' in the Airline of the Year Awards run by UK-based Official Airline Guide. However the Airport Transport Users Council rate BA as the worst European carrier for baggage handling.

Also the Association of European Airlines reports that BA is the worst airline for lost and delayed baggage, losing over twice as many bags as the average. It is also the worst airline for punctuality of short/medium haul flight departures and arrivals and ranked 17th out of 21 airlines for long haul delays. Many of BA's problems stem from being based at London Heathrow airport which has become crowded and subject to delays. In 2007 Heathrow was voted the world's least favourite alongside Chicago O'Hare in a TripAdvisor survey.


On 1 August 2007, British Airways was fined £121.5 million for price-fixing. The fine was imposed by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) after BA admitted to the price-fixing of fuel surcharges on long haul flights. The allegation first came to light in 2006 when Virgin Atlantic reported the events to the authorities after it found staff members from BA and Virgin Atlantic were colluding. Virgin Atlantic have since been granted immunity by both the OFT and the United States Department of Justice who have been investigating the allegations. The US DOJ later announced that it would fine British Airways $300 million (£148 million) for price fixing.

The allegations led to the resignation of commercial director Martin George and communications chief Iain Burns. Although BA said fuel surcharges were "a legitimate way of recovering costs", in May 2007 it put aside £350 million for legal fees and fines.

Terminal 5

British Airways's new home at Heathrow Terminal 5.
British Airways's new home at Heathrow Terminal 5.

Heathrow Terminal 5 was built exclusively for the use of British Airways at a cost of £4.3 billion and officially opened by Queen Elizabeth II on 14 March 2008. It opened to passengers on 27 March 2008, but a number of serious problems immediately arose. Staff were unable to find the car parks and there were not enough spaces available leading to confusion and delays getting to work. Long queues formed for staff security checks and the belts carrying the bags became clogged as they were not being unloaded quickly enough. The baggage handling system also malfunctioned due to technical problems. At one stage, BA were forced to stop checking bags in as large queues formed at the fast bag drop and seven flights departed with no baggage loaded.

In the first five days, a backlog of 28,000 bags built up and over 300 flights were cancelled. BA initially handed out leaflets to passengers of delayed or cancelled flights offering up to £100 compensation to cover the cost of a hotel room for two passengers. This was criticised by the UK's Consumer Watchdog for the Aviation Industry, the Air Transport Users Council, as being a clear breach of Regulation 261/2004 and BA were forced to accept claims for "reasonable costs".

Willie Walsh commented that it "was not our finest hour" and "the buck stops with me". Two directors left the company on 15 April 2008 as a direct result of the poor transition into BA's new terminal. Despite the announcement of record profits, Willie Walsh declined his annual bonus over the T5 fiasco.

Despite the initial problems with the new terminal, by October 2008 operations ran smoothly and punctuality improved. Further long-haul services were transferred to Terminal 5 on 5 June 2008, 17 September 2008, and 22 October 2008, with only Bangkok, Singapore and Sydney services left operating from T4.

Recent developments

In March 2001, it was revealed that British Airways has a policy of not seating adult male passengers next to children who are sitting by themselves, even if a child's parents are elsewhere on the plane. This led to accusations of sex discrimination.

In October 2006, in the British Airways cross controversy, there was a dispute over the right of a Christian check-in worker to wear a visible symbol of faith. The employee lost an employment tribunal in January 2008.

British Airways was announced by the Association of European Airlines as having lost the most luggage in 2006 and 2007 compared to other major European airlines. For every 1000 passengers carried, it lost 23 bags, 46% more than the average.

In January 2008 BA unveiled its new subsidiary OpenSkies which takes advantage of the liberalisation of transatlantic traffic rights, and flies non-stop between major European cities and the United States. Operations between Paris and New York began with a single Boeing 757 in June 2008. On 2 July 2008 British Airways announced that it had agreed to buy French airline L'Avion for £54 million. The deal will result in the full integration of L'Avion with OpenSkies by early 2009.

On 30 July 2008, British Airways and Iberia Airlines announced a merger plan that would result in the two airlines joining forces in an all-stock transaction. The two airlines would retain their separate brands similar to KLM and Air France in their merger agreement. Later, in the beginning of August, American Airlines was also added to this agreement. Though the deal did not have AA being merged into the BA and Iberia entity, it allows the two carriers to fix fares, routes and schedules together.

In addition to the existing talks for a merger with Iberia and for anti-trust immunity with Iberia and American Airlines, it was announced on 2 December 2008 that British Airways has entered into talks about a possible merger with Qantas. If British Airways, Iberia and Qantas were to combine as one company it would create the largest airline in the world. However, on 18 December 2008, the talks with Qantas ended over issues of ownership in the aftermath of a merger.

In June of 2009, British Airways e-mailed some 30,000 employees in the United Kingdom, asking them to work without pay for a period of between one week and one month, in an effort to save money. CEO Willie Walsh has already agreed to work without a salary during the month of July; however, reaction to the proposal by workers has been mixed. Despite BA's claim that hundreds of workers reacted positively, many others condemned the proposal, most notably baggage handlers and cabin crew.

Financial performance

* Restated for the disposal of the regional business of BA Connect.


British Airways flies to 7 domestic destinations and 143 international destinations in 69 countries (including British overseas territories) across all 6 major continents.

Route Changes
Origin Destination Start Date End Date Notes
London City New York-JFK 29 September 2009 Pending delivery of new Airbus A318 aircraft with an all-Club World configuration.
Via Shannon Airport on the westbound leg to clear US Immigration and refuel.
London Heathrow Las Vegas 25 October 2009 To be operated by Boeing 777-200ER equipment.
London Gatwick Montego Bay 25 October 2009 To be operated by Boeing 777-200ER equipment.
London Gatwick Punta Cana via Antigua 25 October 2009 To be operated by Boeing 777-200ER equipment.
London Gatwick Malé[55] 25 October 2009 To be operated by Boeing 777-200ER equipment.
London Gatwick Sharm el-Sheikh 25 October 2009 To be operated by Boeing 777-200ER equipment.
London Gatwick Innsbruck 05 December 2009 5 x Weekly
To be operated by A319 aircraft
London Heathrow Pisa[56] 25 October 2009 Twice Daily
Replaces LGW service
London Heathrow Gibraltar[57] 25 October 2009 Daily
Replaces LGW service
London Gatwick New York JFK 1 October 2009
London Gatwick Alicante[58] 24 October 2009
London Gatwick Palma de Mallorca[59] 24 October 2009
London Gatwick Malta[60] 24 October 2009
London Gatwick Krakow[61] 24 October 2009
London Gatwick Ibiza 30 September 2009
London Gatwick Malaga[62] 24 October 2009 Transfered to London Heathrow
London Gatwick Pisa[63] 24 October 2009 Transfered to London Heathrow
London Gatwick Gibraltar[64] 24 October 2009 Transfered to London Heathrow
London Gatwick Barcelona[65] 24 October 2009 Replaced by increased frequencies from London Heathrow
London Gatwick Madrid[66] 24 October 2009

From 25th October 2009, flights from London Gatwick to Bermuda, Bridgetown, and Port of Spain via Saint Lucia; and from London Heathrow to Prague will see an increase in frequencies. Frequencies will be reduced between London Gatwick and Tobago via Antigua to enable these increases.

Flights from London Gatwick to Varna will cease for Winter 2009/10 returning in Summer 2010 as a seasonal service.

One daily flight from London Gatwick to Pisa will resume for the Summer 2010 timetable, in addition to services from London Heathrow.


Airbus A319-100
Airbus A319-100

Airbus A320-200
Airbus A320-200

Airbus A321-200
Airbus A321-200

Boeing 737-400
Boeing 737-400

Boeing 747-400
Boeing 747-400

Boeing 757-200
Boeing 757-200

Boeing 767-300ER
Boeing 767-300ER

Boeing 777-200
Boeing 777-200

Concorde G-BOAB in storage at London Heathrow Airport following the end of all Concorde flying. This aircraft flew for 22296 hours between its first flight in 1976 and its final flight in 2000.
Concorde G-BOAB in storage at London Heathrow Airport following the end of all Concorde flying. This aircraft flew for 22296 hours between its first flight in 1976 and its final flight in 2000.

With the exception of the Boeing 707 and Boeing 747 from BOAC, the airline as formed in 1972-4 inherited a mainly UK built fleet of aircraft. The airline introduced the Boeing 737 and Boeing 757 into the fleet in the 1980s, followed by the Boeing 747-400, Boeing 767 and Boeing 777 in the nineties. However, with the exception of 29 of its 777 fleet, it has often equipped its Boeing aircraft with British-made Rolls-Royce engines (examples include the Trent 800 on its Boeing 777s, the RB211-524 on its 747-400s and 767s and also RB211-535s on its 757-200s). This goes back to the 1960s when the company ordered Boeing 707s—a condition was placed on the company that it used Rolls-Royce power for the new jets. BA inherited BOAC's Boeing airline code (36). Boeing aircraft built for British Airways have the suffix 36, for example 737-436, 747-436, 777-236.

Although it had a large Boeing fleet it has always operated other aircraft. British built aircraft were transferred from BEA (e.g. Trident) and BOAC (e.g. VC10), and in the 1980s the airline bought the Lockheed L-1011. It has also acquired through the buyout of British Caledonian Airways in the 1980s the McDonnell Douglas DC-10 and Airbus A320. In the late 1990s British Airways placed its own first direct Airbus order, for over 100 A320/A319s to replace its own aging fleet of Boeing 737s. In September 2007 BA placed its first order for longhaul Airbus jets, 12 Airbus A380s with 7 options.

BA was one of only two operators of the supersonic Aerospatiale-BAC Concorde supersonic airliner, (the other being the state-owned Air France) with a daily service between Heathrow and New York JFK (although the original service was from London to Bahrain). Initially, Concorde was a financial burden, placed on the national carrier by the government, and attracted criticism from the press as a white elephant. However Lord King recognised the charismatic importance of Concorde to British Airways. BA used Concorde to win business customers, guaranteeing a certain number of Concorde upgrades in return for corporate accounts with the airline - a key factor in winning business from transatlantic competitors.

With the Paris Crash in 2000, the September 11 attacks and escalating maintenance costs, the future of Concorde was limited despite the expensive modifications after the crash. It was announced (on 10 April 2003) that, after 24 October 2003, they would cease scheduled services with Concorde, due to depressed passenger numbers. The last day of its Saturday-only London Heathrow to Barbados Concorde flight was on 30 August 2003. The airline still owns 8 Concordes which are on long term loan to museums in the UK, U.S. and Barbados.

The British Airways fleet includes the following aircraft as of 09 June 2009:

Details of the fleet of British Airways subsidiaries BA CityFlyer and OpenSkies can be found in the related articles. Details of the fleets of British Airways' franchises which use the British Airways name and logo can be found on articles: Sun Air and Comair. In February 2009, the average age of British Airways fleet was 11.4 years.

British Airways offers either three or four classes of service on their long haul international routes serviced by B747, B767 and B777 aircraft. 'World Traveller' (Economy Class), 'World Traveller Plus' (Premium Economy) and 'Club World' (Business Class) always feature. All Boeing 747 aircraft and most Boeing 777 aircraft are fitted with First (First Class).

Aircraft operated

The airline has operated the following aircraft (with in-service date):


British Airways has 32 outstanding options with Airbus, which may be taken as any member of the A320 family. Secured delivery positions on 10 Boeing 777 aircraft are held.

On 18 May 2007, BA announced that it has placed a firm order with Airbus for eight new A320 aircraft. The new aircraft are due for delivery from 2008. They will be delivered to LHR displacing A319s to LGW which in turn will replace elderly Boeing 737-300/500, the leases on which expire at this time.

On 27 March 2007, British Airways placed a firm order for four 777-200ER aircraft with an option for four more, with the order totalling more than US$800 million at list price. The company has stated that these are for fleet expansion. BA's first batch of 777 were fitted with General Electric GE90 engines, but BA switched to Rolls-Royce Trent 800s for the most recent 16 aircraft. This has been continued with the most recent 4 orders as Trent 800 engines were selected as the engine choice.

On 27 September 2007, BA announced their biggest order since 1998 by ordering 36 new long haul aircraft. The company ordered 12 A380s with options on a further 7, and 24 Boeing 787s with options on a further 18. Rolls-Royce Trent engines were selected for both orders with Trent 900s powering the A380s and Trent 1000s powering the 787s. The new aircraft will be delivered between 2010 and 2014. The Boeing 787s will replace 14 of British Airways' Boeing 767 fleet and the Airbus A380s will replace 20 of BA's oldest Boeing 747-400s and will most likely be used to increase capacity on routes to Bangkok, Cape Town, Hong Kong, Johannesburg, Singapore, and Sydney from London Heathrow.

On 1 February 2008 it was announced that BA had ordered two Airbus A318s to operate a premium service out of London City Airport to New York. The service, which will see the A318s fitted out with 32 lie flat beds in an all business class cabin, is expected to start in 2009. The A318 is the largest aircraft able to operate out of London City Airport. On 4 February 2008 the engine selection was announced as the CFM International - CFM56. Most of BA's fleet of A320 family aircraft are powered by International Aero Engines V2500, however these engines are not available to power the A318. It was subsequently announced that, because of runway length limitations at LCY, this route will include a westbound fuel stop.

On 1 August 2008 BA announced orders for six Boeing 777-300ERs and options for four more as an interim measure to cover for delays over the deliveries of their 787-8/9s.

On 12 January 2009 chief Executive Willie Walsh stated that BA's purchase of six 777-300ERs did not indicate that they had ruled out purchasing the A350 for their fleet renewal program and "that the airline expects to reach a decision towards the end of the year."


The musical theme predominantly used on British Airways advertising is "Flower Duet" by Léo Delibes. This, and the slogan "The World's Favourite Airline" were introduced in 1989 with the launch of the iconic "Face" advertisement. The slogan was dropped in 2001, after having been overtaken by Lufthansa in terms of passenger numbers. However, "Flower Duet" is still used by the airline, and has been through several different arrangements since 1989. The most recent was introduced in 2007, along with the current advertising slogan, "Upgrade to British Airways".

The advertising agency used for many years by BA was Saatchi & Saatchi, who created many of the most famous advertisements for the airline. It created the "Face" commercial for the airline; its success was imitated by Silverjet in 2007, who created a similar advert.

Prior to "The World's Favourite Airline", advertising slogans included:

  • "The World's Best Airline".
  • "We'll Take More Care Of You".
  • "Fly the Flag".

Internet: the value of the British Airways Brand was pushed in 2002 as that the company was able to buy its acronym, and its IATA Airline code the letters "BA" as their internet domain The domain was previously owned by Bell Atlantic. Only 4 Airlines (AA, BA, RJ, XL) and few companies own a two letter domain name.

As of June 2007, BA's advertising agency is Bartle Bogle Hegarty.

British Airways is the official airline of the Wimbledon Championship tennis tournament.

British Airways is the official airline and tier 1 partner of the 2012 Summer Olympics.

Tail fins

Since its formation in 1974, though to a limited extent until all aircraft were repainted, British Airways aeroplanes carried a Union Flag scheme painted on their tail fins. The original predominantly red tail scheme was changed with the launch of a new livery designed by the New York design agency, Landor Associates. The new tail was predominantly dark blue and carried the British Airways Coat of Arms. On 10 June 1997 they began to be repainted (and the planes re-named) with abstract world images, Delftware or Chinese calligraphy for example, relating to countries they fly to. This caused problems with air traffic control: previously controllers had been able to tell pilots to follow a BA plane, but because they were each painted in different colours they were harder to identify.

On 6 June 1999, BA chief executive Bob Ayling announced that all BA planes would be repainted with the Union Flag, based on a design first used on Concorde.


United Kingdom

UK Domestic seat pitch is 31" on all aircraft and the seats are in a one-class configuration. Food on these services depends on the destination and time of day. On all UK Domestic services, a breakfast meal is served before 10am and after 10am there is a drinks service, with a light snack from Heathrow and Gatwick. The exception is for Scottish flights to and from Heathrow in the evening, where a meal size salad is served.

Business UK has exactly the same service (same cabin) as UK Domestic, with a fully flexible ticket and lounge access.


Euro Traveller seat pitch is 31", except on Boeing 757 aircraft where it is 32" and Airbus A321 aircraft where it is 30". Food on board depends on the destination "band" (e.g. Band 1 to Paris, Band 3 to Rome, Band 4 to Athens). In-flight entertainment is offered on Band 4 flights on aircraft with suitable equipment.

Club Europe is the business class product of British Airways, offered on all shorthaul routes. Passengers have access to business lounges at most airports and are also served a full English breakfast in the mornings or 'extended breakfast' on later flights (ham, salami etc) and afternoon tea later in the day. Seat pitch is 31", but on a Boeing 757 it is 36-37". Club Europe has a 2+2 configuration.


Club World seat.
Club World seat.

World Traveller cabin.
World Traveller cabin.

First is the long haul first class product on British Airways and is offered only on BA's Boeing 747s, Boeing 777s aircraft. There are 14 private "demi-cabins" with 6' 6" beds, in-seat power for laptops, personal phones, and entertainment facilities. Meals are check-in facilities at some airports. At airports without dedicated First check-in, passengers use Club World check-in. BA have announced that a long-awaited upgrade to the First cabin will be installed in September2009, with a minor refresh taking place immediately , which has also seen the introduction of a private concierge service provided by Quintessentially, the last major cabin update back in 1996.

Club World is the longhaul business class product of British Airways. Passengers have access to business lounges at most airports. On 13 November 2006, British Airways launched a new Club World service (termed Next Generation New Club World), offering larger seats and a service revamp. The Club World service offers a 20" wide, 6' long fully flat bed (6' 6" long in Next Generation New Club World cabins when in Z-bed position, which is not fully flat, the flat bed is still 6'), with 24 seats on the 767-200ER (New Club World), either 40 or 48 seats on the 777-200 (New Club World), and, since 2007, either 52 or 70 seats on the 747-400 (Next Generation New Club World).

World Traveller and World Traveller Plus are the two main economy classes offered internationally on British Airways. World Traveller is standard economy and offers a 31" seat pitch. World Traveller Plus is premium economy and, in comparison to World Traveller, offers a better (38") seat pitch, fewer seats abreast, and in-seat laptop power.

Special cabin configuration

In 2001, British Airways became the first carrier to introduce a ten abreast economy class configuration on the Boeing 777, an aircraft which had been designed for nine abreast seating. This utilised specially built narrow seats, and narrow aisles, and was applied to 3 GE-engined 777-236ERs (G-VIIO / MSN 29320, G-VIIP / MSN 29321 and G-VIIR / MSN 29322) used predominantly on Caribbean routes, but sometimes flown to and from Florida. Since BA piloted this development, the configuration has been emulated by Emirates Airline, KLM and China Southern Airlines. British Airways have removed this unpopular configuration, returning to nine abreast seating.


British Airways Concorde Room lounge.
British Airways Concorde Room lounge.

British Airways operate several different types of lounge for passengers travelling in the premium cabins and passengers with status. The JFK T7 Concorde Room will be refurbished to the same standard as the LHR T5A Concorde Room. First lounges are being replaced by Galleries First lounges. Terraces and Executive Club lounges are being replaced by Galleries Club lounges. The Gate 1 Lounge at LHR T4 will be closed when the three remaining BA longhaul services move to LHR T3 in October 2009. At the same time, a new Galleries First lounge will open in LHR T3 to complement the existing Galleries Club lounge.

Lounge Access
Replaced By Location
Concorde Room (CCR) F Premier,
CCR Cardholder
Galleries First F Premier,
North America,
South Africa
First Lounge F Premier,
Galleries First UK,
North America
Galleries Club F
Terraces Lounge F
Galleries Club Network-Wide
Executive Club Lounge F
Galleries Club Network-Wide
Gate 1 Lounge F
Closing 2009 LHR T4
Galleries Arrivals F
Gold (longhaul only)

At airports in which BA does not operate a departure lounge, a third party departure lounge is usually provided for premium/status passengers.

Elemis Travel Spas are available at LHR T5A Galleries South, LHR T5B Galleries Club, LHR T5A Galleries Arrivals and JFK T7 Terraces lounge. An additional Spa will be opening at the LHR T3 Galleries lounge in October 2009.

London Heathrow Lounges

First lounge at Heathrow Terminal 5
First lounge at Heathrow Terminal 5
Terminal Lounge Notes
Terminal 3 Galleries First
Galleries Club
Galleries First opening October 2009
Terminal 4 Gate 1 Lounge Closing October 2009
Terminal 5A Concorde Room
Galleries First
Galleries Club (South)
Galleries Club (North)
Galleries Arrivals
Terminal 5B Galleries Club


British Airways holds a United Kingdom Civil Aviation Authority Type A Operating Licence, and is permitted to carry passengers, cargo and mail on aircraft with 20 or more seats.

BA is based at London Heathrow Airport in London, England. It also has a presence at Gatwick and previously had a significant hub at Manchester Airport, but this was eliminated in 2007 after the sale of BA Connect, in common with operations from other UK airports, which are now served only as spokes from the London hubs. BA has succeeded in dominating Heathrow to the point that the airport is commonly referred to as Fortress Heathrow within both the airline and its competitors.

As an incumbent airline, BA had grandfather rights to around 38% of takeoff and landing slots at Heathrow, many of which are used for the lucrative trans-Atlantic market. Some competitors, such as Virgin Atlantic and bmi, assert that this stifles competition and some political think-tanks recommend an auction of slots. In recent years British Airways has been buying slots from other airlines including United Airlines, bmi, Brussels Airlines, GB Airways and Swiss International Air Lines, and now owns about 40% of slots at Heathrow.

Although British Airways has been described as the 'National Carrier of the United Kingdom', it does not have a presence in Wales and services to all airports 'north of Watford Gap' were severely truncated in March 2007. BA currently has no flights without a London airport as their origin or destination. However, this policy is now being successfully countered by foreign carriers, such as Emirates, who operate long-haul flights from several UK provincial airports to Dubai, Abu Dhabi and onwards from those hubs to Asia and Australasia.

BA CityFlyer is a subsidiary with Avro RJ aircraft based in Edinburgh, but operating mainly from London City Airport. BA CityFlyer operates around 250 flights per week at London City Airport.

On 27 March 2008, BA moved roughly 50% of its Heathrow operation to the new Terminal 5. A large majority of the moves happened during the night on 26 March, when one of the runways at Heathrow was closed. All BA flights will operate out of T5 by early 2009, except services to Barcelona, Helsinki, Lisbon, Madrid, Bangkok, Singapore and Sydney, which will operate out of T3 because the long-haul flights are code-shares and the European flights are operated by Boeing 757 aircraft which can not be used in Terminal 5 due to the fact that they need manual luggage loading in the hold.

Due to demand, BA announced that it will operate services up to nine times daily from terminal 5 to Nice instead of from the originally planned terminal 3. This means they will not be operated by Boeing 757 aircraft, as they can only operate from terminal 3.

Codeshare agreements

Other than codesharing with oneworld alliance members, British Airways also codeshare with:

Subsidiaries and franchisees


British Airways is the full owner of Airways Aero Associations Limited, which operates the British Airways flying club and runs its own aerodrome under the British Airways brand at Wycombe Air Park, High Wycombe. With the creation of Open Skies between Europe and the United States in March 2008, British Airways has a new subsidiary airline called OpenSkies (previously codenamed "Project Lauren"). The airline started operations in June 2008, and now flies from Paris and Amsterdam, to New York, JFK Airport.

The former BEA Helicopters was renamed British Airways Helicopters in 1974 and operated passenger and offshore oil support services until it was sold in 1986.



BA owns a 13.5% stake in Spanish airline Iberia. It raised its stake in Iberia from 9% to 10% by purchasing American Airlines' remaining shares. It increased it further in March 2008. This 13.5% stake gives British Airways the right to appoint two board members.

It obtained a 15% stake in Flybe when it sold its regional UK operation BA Connect to FlyBe in March 2007.

It owns a 10% stake in Eurostar (U.K.) Ltd. as part of the InterCapital and Regional Rail alliance that also includes SNCF, NMBS/SNCB and National Express Group. Eurostar (UK) is the UK arm of Eurostar, the cross-Channel rail operator.

On 30 July 2008, British Airways and Iberia announced a merger plan that would result in the two airlines joining forces in an all-stock transaction. The two airlines would retain their separate brands similar to KLM and Air France in their merger agreement.


BA is, through its subsidiary British Airways World Cargo, the world's twelfth-largest cargo airline based on total freight tonne-kilometers flown. BA World Cargo has global reach through the British Airways scheduled network. In addition to the main fleet, BA World Cargo wet lease three Boeing 747-400F dedicated freighter aircraft from Global Supply Systems on a multi-year basis, as well as utilising space on dedicated freighters operated by other carriers on European services. Dedicated freighter services allow the airline to serve airports not connected to the scheduled network, such as London Stansted, Glasgow Prestwick, Frankfurt-Hahn, Vitoria and Seoul.

British Airways opened its £250m World Cargo centre, Ascentis, at Heathrow in 1999. As an advanced automated freight handling centre, it can handle unusual and premium cargo, and fresh produce, of which it handles over 80,000 tons per year. BA World Cargo also handles freight at London's Gatwick and Stansted airports, and, through its partner British Airways Regional Cargo, at all of the main regional airports throughout the UK.

Loyalty programmes

British Airways Executive Club logo
British Airways Executive Club logo

Executive Club

The Executive Club is British Airways' main frequent flyer programme. It is part of the network of frequent flyer programmes in the Oneworld alliance. The Executive Club has three tiers of membership: Blue, Silver, Gold. The benefits of the Silver and Gold cards include access to airport lounges and dedicated reservation lines. Unlike most airlines' frequent flyer programmes, the Executive Club keeps separate account of the redeemable BA Miles and the loyalty Tier Points. Flying in higher Classes of Service, i.e. Premium Economy, Business or First, will earn both BA Miles and Tier Points, whereas Tier Points can only be earned for "Eligible Flights". A Full Fare Economy (Y/B/H) fare or any premium cabin fare will be considered as eligible flight. Discounted economy fares will only earn 25% BA Miles and no tier points. Membership of the Executive Club will be extended annually upon attaining the relevant number of Tier Points. For instance, to maintain the Silver Executive Club will require 4 Premium Economy Returns between the UK and the US Eastern Seaboard.

The number of tier points required for Silver and Gold card membership varies substantially from country leading to some passengers changing their address to a European country in order to qualify for membership with fewer tier points.

Redeemable miles expire after 36 months of inactivity.


BA operates an invitation-only Premier programme which gives more benefits than the Executive Club Gold Card scheme. It is given only by the BA board and has 1,200 members.

Incidents and accidents

  • In November 1974, British Airways Flight 870 from Dubai to Heathrow, operated by a Vickers VC10, was hijacked in Dubai, landing at Tripoli for refuelling before flying on to Tunis. One hostage was murdered before the hijackers eventually surrendered after 84 hours. Captain Jim Futcher was awarded the Queen's Gallantry Medal, the Guild of Air Pilots and Air Navigators Founders Medal, the British Air Line Pilots Association Gold Medal and a Certificate of Commendation from British Airways for his actions during the hijacking, having returned to the aircraft to fly it knowing the hijackers were on board.
  • On 10 September 1976, a Trident 3B on British Airways Flight 476, flying from London Heathrow to Istanbul collided in mid-air with an Inex Adria DC9-32 near Zagreb, Croatia, resulting in the 1976 Zagreb mid-air collision. All 54 passengers and 9 crew members on the BA aircraft died.
  • On 24 June 1982, Flight 9, a Boeing 747-200, G-BDXH, City of Edinburgh flew through a cloud of volcanic ash and dust from the eruption of Mount Galunggung, causing extensive damage to the aircraft, including the failure of all four engines. The aircraft managed to glide out of the dust cloud and restart all four of its engines, although one later had to be shut down again. The aircraft made an emergency landing at Halim Perdanakusuma International Airport just outside Jakarta. No-one was injured.
  • On 10 June 1990, Flight 5390, a BAC One-Eleven flight between Birmingham and Málaga, suffered a windscreen blowout due to the fitting of incorrect bolts the previous day. The Captain suffered major injuries after being partially sucked out of the aircraft, however the co-pilot landed the plane safely at Southampton Airport.
  • On 2 August 1990, Flight 149 landed at Kuwait International Airport four hours after the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, leading to the capture of the passengers and crew, and the destruction of the aircraft.
  • On 11 December 2000, British Airways Flight 2069 from London Gatwick Airport to Nairobi experienced a hijack attempt whilst flying over Sudan. A Kenyan student with a mental illness burst into the cockpit of the Boeing 747. As three crew fought to restrain the man, the auto-pilot became disengaged and the jet dropped 10,000 feet (3,000 m) with 398 passengers on board. However, with the help of a couple of passengers, the pilots recovered the aircraft, successfully restrained the Kenyan with handcuffs and the plane landed safely.
  • On 19 February 2005, the No. 2 engine of a Boeing 747-400 G-BNLG surged and suffered internal damage just after take off from Los Angeles on a flight to London Heathrow with 16 crew and 351 passengers on board. The crew shut the engine down and continued the climb and continued the flight, in line with BA's standard operating procedures for 4 engined aircraft. Because it was unable to attain normal cruising speeds and altitudes, the aircraft diverted to Manchester Airport, England. The United States Federal Aviation Administration had been critical of the Captain's decision and accused BA of operating the aircraft in an non airworthy condition. In June 2006 the UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch recommended that the UK and US authorities review the policy on flight continuation and give clear guidance. This has not happened but the FAA have accepted the United Kingdom Civil Aviation Authority’s determination that the aircraft was airworthy.
  • On 17 January 2008, British Airways Flight 38, a Boeing 777-200ER flying from Beijing to London, crash-landed approximately 1,000 feet (300 m) short of London Heathrow Airport's runway 27L, and slid onto the runway's threshold. This resulted in damage to the landing gear, the wing roots, and the engines, resulting in the first hull loss of a Boeing 777. There were 136 passengers and 16 crew on board. 1 serious and 12 minor injuries were sustained. The initial report from the Air Accidents Investigation Branch stated that the engines repeatedly failed to respond to commands for more thrust from both the autothrottle system and from manual intervention, beginning when the aircraft was at an altitude of 600 feet (180 m) and 2 miles (3.2 km) from touchdown. An adequate fuel quantity was on board the aircraft and the autothrottle and engine control commands were performing as expected prior to, and after, the reduction in thrust. In September 2008, it was revealed that ice in the fuel might have caused the crash. In early 2009, Boeing sent an update to aircraft operators, identifying the problem as specific to the Rolls-Royce engine oil-fuel flow heat exchangers..

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Published in July 2009.

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