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British European Airways - what kind of airline was it?

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British European Airways - what kind of airline was it?

Old 10th Jun 2021, 19:58
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British European Airways - what kind of airline was it?

What was BEA?



An initial reflection is that it was:



An airline that is still seen and remembered very differently by different people.



A democratic airline, serving the ordinary passenger – rather than the richer global travellers who patronised BOAC (and yet it was also an airline that pursued the wealthy through its ‘Silver Wing’ services).



An airline with a more modern, funkier image than staid and conservative BOAC.



A steadfast, if not always enthusiastic, supporter of the UK’s domestic aircraft industry (although its particular specifications sometimes led to the design of aircraft that were less well suited to the needs of the global market – eg Trident).



A successful airline which often made a profit, even while sustaining a ‘public service obligation’ running loss-making services to the Scottish Highlands and Islands and the Channel Islands.



An airline that was sometimes forward looking – an early adopter of turboprops, of short-haul jets, and even of helicopters, and a pioneer in blind landing and Autoland.



There are questions about personnel management, industrial relations, and an accident rate that, with the benefit of 20:20 hindsight seems high (but was it, on a per thousand flying hours/sectors basis?).


Your thoughts???
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Old 10th Jun 2021, 21:51
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British European Airways - what kind of airline was it?

A British airline operating throughout Europe ?

And a great company to work for ...
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Old 10th Jun 2021, 22:23
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Originally Posted by DaveReidUK View Post
A British airline operating throughout Europe ?

And a great company to work for ...
Well, western Europe. Not too many destinations in Eastern Europe. (I used to have to fly Swissair to reach, Bucharest or Sofia, and the services to the other capitals were infrequent).
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Old 11th Jun 2021, 10:19
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Cue blind pew
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Old 11th Jun 2021, 13:43
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BEA had tie ups with GT GIB Air, MG The Malta Airlines, TP Portuguese AW OA Olympic Airways and of course CY Cyprus Airways.
Various stickers would adorn BEA aircrafts if they were doing a pooled service.

BEA Red Square livery times were possibly the most formative with Viscounts Vanguards Comets and the new Tridents on line.
A few new Trident 2 came first in Red Square livery.

YN Night Tourist fares were popular/cheaper and BEA flew many summer Holiday services leaving at night mainly on Vanguards to -
MAD AGP GIB PMI BCN VLC
LIS and onto PXO Porto Santo with Comets
FCO LIN NAP MLA AHO PMO NCE VCE
RHO HER CFU NCO ATH
GVA ZUR BSL MUC VIE SZG
DBV from 1965
ALC IBZ and GRO commenced in 1967
OPO and FAO in 1968

These YN fares were BEA's answer to fight off the growing Package Holiday Industry using their own BEA Silver Wing Holidays brand, that became Cooks Silver Wing with BEA and later BEA Sovereign Holidays.
Hickie Borman Package Holidays used BEA, using the name ACEFLIGHT by prop-jet Vanguards of the BEA fleet for their charters, and SCHEDAIR group flight using BEA YN fares.

Most of the YN services slogged through the night with many leaving LAP at 0100 or even later.
Passengers had the luxury of checking in though at BEA's London Air Terminal and taking the coach out to the Airport.




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Old 12th Jun 2021, 05:39
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Thank you Mr. Bean for your kind thoughts.
BEA also had a large share in Aerlingus who negotiated a deal with KLM who kept out of the Republic which allowed them to charge astronomical fares in the 70s. Iirc around 3 months average salary Dub - Lhr.
BEA did fly Sofia Bucharest which was a 3 leg trip on Trident 1s. SR flew with guaranteed connections and poached many BA pax who were prepared to pay a lot more.
To me it was two companies...paper pushers who kept the benefits for themselves and their mates (my wife was in a maternity ward in Reading hospital adjacent to a jock who got as many free tickets home as she wanted from her friend a sales manager whilst cabin crew and BOAC couldn’t get interline tickets issued.
One only has to read the Staines inquiry, look up the accident records or the number of strikes and work to rules that affected the airline prior to Lord King to answer your questions.
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Old 12th Jun 2021, 06:28
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Originally Posted by blind pew View Post
BEA did fly Sofia Bucharest which was a 3 leg trip on Trident 1s.
LHR-ZAG-BEG was another Eastern Europe dog-leg service, albeit that it stopped at Zagreb both outbound and inbound, whereas the above went LHR-SOF-BUH-LHR. Other Iron curtain routes included WAW, BUD, PRG, etc.
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Old 12th Jun 2021, 11:34
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BEA expanded further into the UK regions during the 1960s with its gradual acquisition of BKS/Northeast and Cambrian, supplying both airlines with surplus Viscount 806s and establishing British Air Services as a holding company. Who knows if these were purely business decisions or driven by Ronald Edwards and his gang ? Before my time but I'd argue that both airlines were essentially operating as BEA in all but name by the early 1970s.

Last edited by Mooncrest; 12th Jun 2021 at 11:47.
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Old 12th Jun 2021, 13:14
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A state monopoly
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