British Airways (BA) is the flag carrier airline of the United Kingdom, based in Waterside, near its main hub at London Heathrow Airport. It is the largest airline in the UK based on fleet size, international flights and international destinations and second largest measured by passengers carried, behind easyJet.
The British Airways Board was established in 1971 to control the two nationalised airline corporations, BOAC and BEA, and two smaller, regional airlines, Cambrian Airways, from Cardiff, and Northeast Airlines, from Newcastle upon Tyne. On 31 March 1974, all four companies were merged to form British Airways. After almost 13 years as a state company, that was sold in February 1987 as part of a privatisation plan by the Conservative Government. The carrier soon expanded with the acquisition of British Caledonian in 1987 and Dan-Air, Gatwick-based carrier, in 1992.
A long-time Boeing customer, British Airways ordered 59 Airbus A320 family aircraft in August 1998. In 2007, it purchased 12 Airbus A380s and 24 Boeing 787 Dreamliners, marking the start of its long-haul fleet replacement. The centrepiece of the airline's long-haul fleet is the Boeing 747-400; with 52 examples in service, British Airways is the largest operator of this type in the world.
British Airways is a founding member of the Oneworld airline alliance, along with American Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Qantas, and the now defunct Canadian Airlines. The alliance has since grown to become the third largest, after SkyTeam and Star Alliance. British Airways' parent company, International Airlines Group, is listed on the London Stock Exchange and in the FTSE 100 Index.
On 12 November 2009, British Airways confirmed that it had reached a preliminary agreement to merge with Iberia. On 14 July 2010, the European Commission approved the merger under competition law, also allowing American Airlines to co-operate with the merged entity on transatlantic routes to the United States. The merger was completed on 21 January 2011, formally creating the International Airlines Group, IAG, the world's third-largest airline in terms of annual revenue and the second largest airline group in Europe. In 2012, IAG purchased British Midland International (BMI) and announced plans to open a new subsidiary based at London City Airport operating Airbus A318s.
British Airways was the airline partner of the London 2012 Olympic Games. On 18 May 2012 it flew the Olympic flame from Athens International Airport to RNAS Culdrose while carrying various dignitaries including Lord Sebastian Coe, Princess Anne, Olympics minister Hugh Robertson and London Mayor Boris Johnson, together with footballer David Beckham.
Airbus is the world’s leading aircraft manufacturer whose customer focus, commercial know-how, technological leadership and manufacturing efficiency have propelled it to the forefront of the industry.
Airbus’ modern and comprehensive product line comprises highly successful families of aircraft ranging from 107 to 525 seats: the single-aisle A320 Family, the wide-body long-range A330/A340 and the all-new next generation A350 XWB Family, and the ultra long-range, double-decker A380 Family. The company also continues to broaden its scope and product range by applying its expertise to the military market. It is as well extending its portfolio of freighter aircraft that will set new standards in the general and express freight market sectors.
Across all its fly-by-wire aircraft families Airbus’ unique approach ensures that aircraft share the highest possible degree of commonality in airframes, on-board systems, cockpits and handling characteristics, which reduces significantly operating costs for airlines.
Dedicated to helping airlines enhance the profitability of their fleets, Airbus also delivers a wide range of customer services in all areas of support, tailored to the needs of individual operators all over the world.
Headquartered in Toulouse, Airbus is owned by EADS, a global leader in aerospace, defence and related services. This group – which is comprised of Astrium, Cassidian and Eurocopter, in addition to Airbus – has a presence on every continent, and employs a total workforce of more than 119,000.
Airbus itself is a truly global enterprise of some 59,000 employees, with fully-owned subsidiaries in the United States, China, Japan and in the Middle East, spare parts centres in Hamburg, Frankfurt, Washington, Beijing and Singapore, training centres in Toulouse, Miami, Hamburg and Beijing and more than 150 field service offices around the world.
Airbus also relies on industrial co-operation and partnerships with major companies all over the world, and a network of some 1,500 suppliers in 30 countries.
Airbus today consistently captures about half of all commercial airliner orders.