British Airways Celebrates 100 Years Since Its First Regular International Flight

British Airways is celebrating their 100 year anniversary in 2019. As one of the world’s most well-known airlines, it has a rich history. August 25th, 2019, in fact, marks an important date in BA’s legacy. It was on this day in 1919 Aircraft Transport and Travel Limited (AT&T) launched the world’s first daily international scheduled flight between London and Paris.

British Airways Retro Livery
British Airways is celebrating a special 100 years. Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying

AT&T (the airline!)

One of British Airway’s predecessors was the Air Transport & Travel Limited, or AT&T. This airline launched its first international flight, and thus British Airways’ first international flight, from London to Paris on August 25th, 2019. Nowadays, the flight is operated with two-class Airbus A320 family aircraft. Back then, a single-engine De Haviland DH4A flew the first passengers.

AT&T DH Aircraft
A single-engined De Havilland aircraft in AT&T livery. Photo: The Flight magazine archive from Flightglobal via Wikimedia

In a press release, Alex Cruz, British Airways’ and President offered the following anecdote:

From that first customer who flew from Hounslow Heath to Paris on 25 August 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.

In fact, to commemorate this service, British Airways is placing an A319 in retro BEA livery as BA314 on August 25th.

British Airways’ A319 in retro BEA livery will fly to Paris on Sunday. Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying

This is not the only thing British Airways is doing to celebrate its centennial anniversary. Debuting soon on long-haul services is the brand new Airbus A350-1000 with the Club Suite!

British Airways, Club Suite, First
Simple Flying’s Tom Boon enjoys the Club Suite on a British Airways Airbus A350. Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying

How British Airways came to be

Following that first flight in 1919, Britain saw a consolidation of four airlines to form Imperial Airways Limited in 1924. Ten years later, Imperial Airways had a competitor as other airlines merged to form British Airways Limited. In 1939, as World War II loomed, the government nationalized Imperial and British Airways which ultimately formed the British Overseas Airways Corporation or BOAC. A Boeing 747 is painted in BOAC livery to commemorate the importance of this step in BA’s history.

A British Airways 747 in BOAC livery. Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying

European and domestic flights flew under a new airline called British European Airways- or BEA starting in 1946. This came as BOAC expanded intercontinental routes to points like New York, Japan, and Chicago. Through the 1960s, BOAC and BEA operated as separate airlines. In 1974, these two airlines were combined to form British Airways which was then privatized in 1987. Since then, the British Airways known today evolved and is now a part of IAG.

BA 747
A British Airways 747. Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying


Not many airlines have such a rich history embedded with national pride. Indeed, British Airways is one of the most recognized entities of the United Kingdom around the world. And, British Airways is showing no signs of stopping. They are confidently looking ahead to the next one hundred years as one of Britain’s leading airlines.

What do you think of British Airways’ centennial? How has British Airways impacted you? Let us know in the comments!