British Airways Ltd.


British Airways Ltd.

British Airways Ltd was a private airline company operating in Europe formed in 1935. First called Allied British Airways, it was formed in October, 1935 by the merger of Spartan Air Lines and United Airways (no relation to the US carrier United Airlines). It rapidly acquired Hillman's Airways, adopted its definitive name, and transferred its UK base to Heston (Gatwick was not ready). Its corporate emblem was a winged lion.

Initially equipped with a mixture of aircraft including the DH84, DH86A and Spartan Cruisers, the competitive nature of European aviation forced it to look to importing modern aircraft from overseas to maintain its position. Acquiring the Dutch-built Fokker F.XII and German Junkers Ju 52 planes, it rapidly established services to Paris, Lille, Cologne, Amsterdam, Hanover, Hamburg, Copenhagen, Malmö and Stockholm.

It later bought the new all-metal American Lockheed L-10 Electra and extended its routes to Hungary and Poland. Under contract to the Air Ministry, a survey flight was made to Bathurst WA in order to open up a south Atlantic service. A service to Lisbon was started in May 1939; a problem was that Franco would not grant landing rights at Madrid.

British Airways Ltd was not intended to compete with Imperial Airways which flew to far-flung parts of the British Empire, enjoyed state subsidy, and used British-built aircraft, often antiquated. Shortly after the outbreak of World War II, Imperial Airways and British Airways Ltd were merged into a single state-owned national carrier - British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC). British Airways had built up a reputation for efficiency in its short life.

Perhaps British Airways Limited's best-remembered action was that it was on one of the airline's Lockheeds that British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain flew to meet Adolf Hitler for the discussions that concluded with the Munich Agreement. Photographs of Chamberlain emerging from his plane at Heston clearly display the "British Airways" logo around the aircraft door.

The British Airways name was to re-appear 35 years later when BOAC was re-merged with its 1946 spin-off, British European Airways.


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