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Her Majesty The Queen today visited British Airways’ headquarters at Waterside, Heathrow as part of the airline’s centenary celebrations. While at Waterside Her Majesty The Queen was introduced to colleagues in heritage uniforms from across the airline’s history and she visited British Airways’ museum, The Speedbird Centre, where she was shown artefacts and memorabilia relating to her many historic journeys with the airline throughout her reign.
These included images from 1951 when the then HRH Princess Elizabeth and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh made their first transatlantic flight on a Boeing Stratocruiser from London to Montreal aboard British Airways’ predecessor, BOAC, as well as a photo from Her Majesty The Queen’s first Commonwealth tour in 1953, after her Coronation.
Aircraft models that the Royal Family have travelled on lined The Speedbird Centre route including De Havilland Comet 4s, Boeing 70s, Vickers VC-10s and Lockheed Tristars, along with items from Royal flights such as the Royal book, which has been signed by members of the family including Her Majesty The Queen, HRH Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, HRH Prince Philip and HRH The Prince of Wales.
During the visit Her Majesty The Queen was also introduced to members of the airline’s Community Investment team and champions from around the company who raise money for Flying Start, British Airways’ charity partnership with Comic Relief. To date more than £20 million has been raised by customers and colleagues for children leading incredibly tough lives. Leaders from colleague groups representing accessibility networks around British Airways were also introduced to Her Majesty The Queen, along with winners from the airline’s Above and Beyond recognition scheme, which seeks to reward people who’ve gone the extra mile for customers.
To conclude the visit, Alex Cruz, British Airways’ Chairman and CEO made a short speech and invited Her Majesty The Queen to unveil a plaque with the airline’s centenary logo and the words: Her Majesty The Queen visited Waterside to mark British Airways’ centenary – 23rd May 2019. The Queen was then presented with a model BOAC Stratocruiser, which is a perfectly to scale representation of the aircraft she and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh flew on in 1951, as she had seen during the tour of The Speedbird Centre.
Alex Cruz, British Airways’ Chairman and CEO, said: “We are so honoured that Her Majesty The Queen has chosen to visit us on this very special occasion to help to mark our centenary – a landmark in aviation. “It was such a pleasure to show Her Majesty The Queen the artefacts and memorabilia we have kept and curated over the years, and to introduce her to our passionate teams from all across British Airways who’ve gone above and beyond for customers, to those who make British Airways the inclusive place it is to work, and those who help raise millions for young people in need.” “This is the absolute highlight of our centenary year celebrations and something we will all remember for many years to come.”
• On August 25, 1919, British Airways’ forerunner company, Aircraft Transport and Travel Limited (AT&T), launched the world's first daily international scheduled air service between London and Paris.
• In 1924, Britain's four main fledgling airlines, which had by then evolved into Instone, Handley Page, Daimler Airways (a successor to AT&T), and British Air Marine Navigation Company Limited, merged to form Imperial Airways Limited.
• By 1925, Imperial Airways was providing services to Paris, Brussels, Basle, Cologne and Zurich. Meanwhile, a number of smaller UK air transport companies had started flights and in 1935, they merged to form the original privately-owned British Airways Limited, which became Imperial Airways' principal UK competitor on European routes.
• Following a Government review, Imperial Airways and British Airways were nationalised in 1939 to form British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC). Continental European and domestic flights were flown by a new airline, British European Airways (BEA) from 1946. BOAC introduced services to New York in 1946, Japan in 1948, Chicago in 1954 and the west coast of the United States in 1957. BEA developed a domestic network to various points in the United Kingdom, including Belfast, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Manchester.
• From 1946 until 1960, BOAC and BEA were the principal British operators of scheduled international passenger and cargo services - and they preserved Britain's pioneering role in the industry. The 1950s saw the world enter the passenger jet era - led by BOAC, with the Comet flying to Johannesburg in 1952, halving the previous flight time.
• Additional airlines began to pass into BEA’s ownership and in 1967, the Government recommended a holding board be responsible for BOAC and BEA, with the establishment of a second force airline, resulting in British Caledonian being born in 1970.
• Two years later, the businesses of BOAC and BEA were combined under the newly formed British Airways Board, with the separate airlines coming together as British Airways in 1974.
• In July 1979, the Government announced its intention to sell shares in British Airways and in February 1987 British Airways was privatised.
• In January 2011 the International Consolidated Airlines Group (IAG) was formed when British Airways and Iberia merged. IAG has since also become the parent company of Aer Lingus, and Vueling and in 2017, IAG launched LEVEL a new low-cost airline brand that operates from Barcelona, Paris and Vienna.