British Airways Marks Its Centenary

August 25, 2019

British Airways marks its centenary today [Aug 25] and two historic flights to Bermuda are being commemorated as the airline celebrates one hundred years of service. .

The modern air carrier was formed in the 1970s when the British Overseas Airways Corporation [BOAC], established in 1939, merged with British European Airways [BEA], founded in 1946.

However, BA’s history actually dates back to August 25, 1919, when a forerunner company, Aircraft Transport and Travel Limited, launched the world’s first daily international scheduled air service between London and Paris.

Winston Churchill took the controls of the BOAC Boeing 314 flying boat Berwick in 1942 while it was en route to Bermuda from Virginia.

Churchill At The Controls

Among other anniversary year events and activities, BA has launched an online Centenary Archive Collection, featuring rare photos and videos spanning the length of its history, along with an interactive timeline.

One of momentous flights highlighted there is the first transatlantic one ever undertaken by a world leader.

Bermuda, which had originally been the final destination of that dramatic wartime flight by Winston Churchill , instead became a stopover point.

In January, 1942 British Prime Minister Churchill was returning to the UK after attending meetings in Washington DC with US President Franklin D. Roosevelt, his World War II ally.

His trip began with a four-hour flight to Bermuda from Virginia aboard the BOAC Boeing 314 flying boat Berwick, one of the luxurious Flying Clippers of the 1930s and ’40s..

Mr.Churchill, who had some pilot training, briefly took the controls of the flying boat while it was en route to the island and sat in the cockpit to watch when the aircraft set down in Bermuda’s Great Sound.

The Queen arrives in Bermuda aboard a BOAC Stratocruiser in November, 1953, the first visit on her Commonwealth tour after her coronation.


He had originally intended to board the British battleship HMS Duke of York in Bermuda and sail back to Britain.

But after addressing the House of Assembly to express his “profound gratitude” to Bermudians for giving up land for the construction of US military bases, he decided to press on to the UK by air. .

Of the continuing 17-and-a-half hour, 3,3000-mile flight from Bermuda to Plymouth, England, Mr. Churchill said: “There is no doubt about the comfort of these great flying boats. I had a good broad bed in the bridal suite at the stern with large windows on either side … The motion was smooth, the vibration not unpleasant, and we passed an agreeable afternoon and had a merry dinner.”

The other Bermuda flight commemorated at BA’s Centenary Archive Collection is the one which brought the Queen to the island in November, 1953.

Bermuda was the first stop on a seven-month Commonwealth tour she embarked on after her coronation, one which saw her visit the West Indies, Australia, Asia and Africa.

In a statement to mark the carrier’s landmark anniversary, BA chairman and CEO Alex Cruz said, “We have had a fabulous year so far marking our centenary and thanking our customers for making us the airline we are today – we wouldn’t be here without their pioneering spirits and sense of adventure.

“From that first customer who flew from Hounslow Heath to Paris on August 25, 1919 in a single-engine De Havilland DH4A to the millions who choose to fly with us every year on more than 800 flights a day to 200 destinations around the globe – we thank them all.

“Our customers truly enable us to bring Britain to the world and the world to Britain and we look forward to serving them for the next 100 years.”

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Comments (2)

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  1. Kathy says:

    With a reported £2bn in profits last year, BA, a carrier that is much appreciated in Bermuda needs some stiff competition from Bermuda to Europe. There is no reason why they should continue to maintain the monopoly to the East especially now with the uncertainty of Brexit. We need to consider alternative direct flights to mainland Europe that can service our international business and personal travel needs. It is long overdue!

  2. BS says:

    Celebrating their 100 years with a pilot strike?!? Thats typical BA BS!!