UK flag carrier and one of the world’s leading airlines, operating services to destinations worldwide. A founding member of the Oneworld global airline alliance, the combined members of which, in mid-2011, served nearly 900 destinations in more than 150 countries, with some 9,500 daily departures. Together with Spanish flag-carrier Iberia, British Airways makes up the International Airlines Group (IAG), in which it is the senior partner.
Able to trace its origins back to the birth of civil aviation and the creation, on 5 October 1916, of Aircraft Transport and Travel (AT&T). The company launched the world's first sustained daily international scheduled air service on 25 August 1919, flown between London and Paris. Several fledgling airlines evolved in the UK over the next few years, and on 31 March 1924, four of them: British Air Marine Navigation Company, Daimler Airways, Handley Page Transport and The Instone Air Line, merged to become Imperial Airways Limited. Within a year, Imperial Airways was providing services from the new London Airport at Croydon to Paris, Brussels, Basle, Cologne and Zurich. A service between the UK and Australia was established in 1935, in co-operation with Qantas Empire Airways, which operated the sectors between Singapore and Australia.
In 1935, a number of smaller, privately-owned, air transport companies which had developed and launched services of their own merged to form BA Limited. Following a government review, Imperial Airways and BA Limited were nationalised on 24 November 1939, to form British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC). BOAC operated the world's first passenger jet service, between London and Johannesburg on 2 May 1952.
In 1967, another government study recommended the creation of a National Air Holding Board, to be responsible for the UK’s two major airlines, BOAC and BEA. In August 1971, the enactment of Civil Aviation Act resulted in BEA and BOAC coming together as British Airways (BA) on 1 April 1974. The new airline inherited its predecessors' pioneering paths, launching the world's first supersonic passenger service, from London to Bahrain (simultaneously with Air France’s service from Paris to Rio) with Concorde on 21 January 1976.
In 1993, BA acquired a 25% stake in Australian flag-carrier Qantas for £290 million.
BA was a founder member of the Oneworld global airline alliance, with American Airlines, Canadian, Cathay Pacific and Qantas on 1 February 1999.
On 8 September 2004, BA announced the sale of its 18.5% stake in Qantas, raising £425 million. In October 2005 BA resumed merger talks with American Airlines.
On 29 July 2008, BA and Iberia announced they were negotiating for a potential all-share merger between the two carriers. Talks held with Qantas in December 2008 over a possible merger were abandoned after Qantas had insisted on being the majority shareholder in the merged carrier.
In November 2009, and after months of talks, British Airways and Iberia agreed to merge. The merger was initially expected to be completed in late 2010.
In July 2010, Oneworld Alliance members BA, American Airlines, Finnair, Iberia and Royal Jordanian Airlines were cleared to co-operate on transatlantic routes from 6 October 2010, after receiving final anti-trust immunity approval from the EU and US DoT.
In September 2010, Iberia decided to proceed with the BA merger and that November, the shareholders of both BA and Iberia voted in favour of the merger. On 24 January 2011, British Airways' and Iberia's shares were cancelled and the merged companies began trading as the International Consolidated Airlines Group, signifying the completion of the merger. In April 2011, British Airways and Iberia announced that their respective cargo operations were to be combined into a single business division, although both retained their existing brands.
Parent, the International Airlines Group announced an agreement in principle to buy British Midland International bmi from the Lufthansa Group on 4 November 2011.
Parent IAG announced the acquisition of BMI British Midland from Lufthansa for £172.5 million ($271 million) on 22 December 2011.