On March 31, 1924, Britain's four pioneer airlines - Instone Air Line, Handley Page Transport, Daimler Airways and British Air Marine Navigation - merged to form Imperial Airways, which developed its Empire routes to Australia and Africa.
Meanwhile a number of smaller UK air transport companies had started flights. These merged in 1935 to form the original privately owned British Airways Ltd. Following a government review, Imperial Airways and British Airways were nationalized in 1939 to form the British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC). 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 nationalized airline, British European Airways (BEA), which compulsorily took over the routes of existing UK independent airlines.
In 1952 BOAC flew the De Havilland Comet to Johannesburg, halving the previous flight time. 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 BOAC and BEA were combined under the newly formed British Airways Board, with the separate airlines coming together as British Airways in 1974, under the guidance of David Nicolson as Chairman of the BA Board. British Airways, simultaneously with Air France, inaugurated the world's first supersonic passenger service with Concorde in January 1976.
Sir John King, later Lord King, was appointed as Chairman in 1981 with the mission of preparing the airline for privatization. King hired Colin Marshall as CEO in 1983. King was credited with turning around 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 modernizing operations at the same time. Offering generous inducements for people to leave led to record losses of £545 million, to the cost of taxpayers but to the benefit of the future privatized company.
The flag carrier was privatized and floated on the London Stock Exchange in February 1987 by the Conservative government, with the initial share offering being 11 times oversubscribed. In April 1988 British Airways effected the controversial takeover of Britain's airline British Caledonian, and in 1992 absorbed some of the routes of Gatwick-based carrier Dan-Air.Close Up of Vignette
Depositary Shares, specimen, late 1900’sPrinter: Jeffries Bank Note Company Dimensions:
8” (h) x 12” (w)State: NY-New York Subject Matter: Famous Companies
| Aviation and Aerospace
| Specimen Pieces Vignette Topic(s): Male Subject
| Female Subject
| Hemispheres Featured Condition:
No fold lines, punch hole cancels in signature areas and body, very crisp.