View Full Version : British Overseas Air Charter

22nd Nov 2008, 20:04
Does anyone remember British Overseas Air Charter? Whilst BEA Airtours is relatively well known, BOAC's charter operation is less so. Was it only a "paper" airline or did it actually operate flights?
I seem to recall a weekly charter from London to Los Angeles - seats were sold by a consolidator called Intercontinental Navigation if I remember correctly. Were these British Overseas Air Charter flights?
Any information would be gratefully received.
Many thanks.

22nd Nov 2008, 21:54
The 1971-2 BOAC accounts have British Overseas Air Charter operating a programme of charters to Delhi,Bombay,Bangkok,Singapore and Kuala Lumpur.

23rd Nov 2008, 00:33
I remember BOAC operating charters out of Manchester around 1971/72, mainly to Toronto with Boeing 707-436 aircraft.

23rd Nov 2008, 06:06
BOAC Charter lost contracts to us (BEA Airtours with ex BOAC -436s) that's why BEEtours lost them when BA was formed, BAED thus Airtours were not to operate long haul:{:ugh::mad::mad:'s

25th Nov 2008, 11:41
BOA Charter did not have their own aircraft, but just used time on the regular BOAC fleet, which is doubtless why the same initials were employed.

BOAC had a couple of 707s rigged up in an all-Y configuration which were used on scheduled flights to Toronto and a few other places with a low first class demand, and these were what the charter side used. So it was really just a marketing front, the ops side was mainstream BOAC. The airline had always done oddball charters of course but this was a move into a more formalised structure.

This was all at a time when the major scheduled carriers were being hit by an increase in transatlantic charter competition, and wanted to gain some of this for themselves. The irony is the competition grew up mainly around the disposal by Pan Am of their early 707 fleet when the 747s came along; it was one of the earliest secondhand sales of good long-haul jet equipment. Likewise BOAC had 707s spare. Destinations such as New York, Toronto and Los Angeles were mainstream work, and to a lesser extent to the Far East.

Transatlantic charter flights to the USA reached their zenith in the early 1970s when ABC (Advanced Booking Charter) flights were allowed to be marketed to individuals, then lost ground after a few years to the scheduled carriers segmenting the market and offering comparable advanced purchase fares on their own flights as they moved over to widebodies and had the capacity available. Charters to Canada were in a different regulatory environment and continued, as to some extent they still do, but those to the USA died out long ago.

25th Nov 2008, 16:58
Many thanks for all the useful information.
ABC fares. Gosh! It's all coming back now. Apex, SuperApex, Standby (to compete with Laker's original "no advance booking" product), Poundstretcher, Dollarstretcher....!!

28th Nov 2008, 06:28
Flogging across the pond one day to Toronto on a BOAC 707 I spoke to a pax and was amazed to hear of how little the guy had paid for his ticket.
It was in the days of Affinity groups (whatever that is). This seemed to be a legal loop hole to sell cheap tickets. Seemed his fare included membership of 1 to the Trowbridge Caged Bird Appreciation Society!They had thousands of members who enjoyed flying.
Sometime later we heard that the CAA (ARB) objected to our new British Overseas Air Charter logo "BOAC" on the planes sides. It seemed awfully like the BOAC I worked for.
Cant remember how it ended but we did laugh.:)

30th Nov 2008, 11:21
Pre 1971 BOAC always operated spare time charters under its own name. The volume ebbed and flowed depending on aircraft availability, so it was at a high when the airline had surplus Britannias in the early/mid 60s and again in the early 70s as the arrival of the 747s began to displace 707s in particular.
In 1971 BOAC was facing a mass attack on its Australian market by cariers such as Lloyd International, Caledonian, Malaysia's Southern Cross with 707s and even Britannia with 737s. They would offer low fares to Singapore or Kuala Lumpur, leaving BOAC to pick them up (often on waitlisted or open tickets which had little chance of confirmation) for the onward sector to Australia. They also ate into BOACs business in South East Asia itself. As result, British Overseas Air Charter, and its selling arm, Overseas Air Travel, were set up as separate entities although the aircraft were owned and operated by BOAC , incuding BOAC crews. It was in its time,- when IATA ruled and imposed a high fares straitjacket on the industry,- a revolutionary, bold and legally fraught move though backed by the UK Government as the first breakthrough into publicly available cheap long haul fares. BOAC was allowed to operate to Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore as "exempt" charters with no affinity group-ie spurious club membership required. On the Kuala Lumpur route it was a joint venture with the newly established MAS who had just been ditched as a partner in MSA by Singapore as a prelude to SIA emerging as a separate carrier.A similar operation at the same time was set up in Hong Kong but there affinity rules were maintained so it was a joint operation with a new company Eupo-Air (which still exists) who sold the seats. The Chinese Social Club of Europe was set up as the club. It was aimed primarily at the Chinese market. Eupo Air expanded into Europe with connecting flights on BEA/BA at highly competitive levels. Most of the rest of BOAC/BA (this was the time of the merger) charters were operated as before by the charter branch of the airline itself. Some people were seconded from one company to the other but the lines were always blurred and they sat in the same offices anyway. The exempt charter and British Overseas Air Charter operations only lasted a couple of years before they were replaced by low fare blocks on scheduled 747 services. Eupo charters lasted a bit longer but also progressively moved from being dedicated 707s to seat blocks (normally a whole cabin zone) on normal 747 scheduled services between London and Hong Kong. BA abandoned this concept around 2003 and the residual business is now carried by other airlines or books direct with BA kn the normal way.

BOAC, often portrayed as a moribund nationalised company ,was no slouch in the world of competition and , as this saga shows,-was often very proactive . Together with Earlybird fares , which most of the rest of the industry opposed, it pioneered low cost worldwide long haul travel. It was not afraid of breaking the mould and did so but without the self publicist fanfares of the likes of Laker.