Sir Broughton presents a sovenir to Laila Bin Harib
BA celebrates 80th anniversary of Mideast flights
Dubai, October 10, 2012
This month British Airways is celebrating the airline’s 80th anniversary of flights to the Middle East.
The airline’s first flight to the region touched down in Sharjah on October 7, 1932, under the banner of Imperial Airways, a predecessor to British Airways.
The Handley Page HP42 aircraft took off from Croydon, just south of London, on October 2, 1932 and took six days to reach Sharjah. The aircraft travelled at just 160kmh and carried fewer than 20 passengers.
Today, 80 years later, a British Airways flight from London Heathrow to Dubai on a Boeing 747-400 takes approximately six and a half hours, travels at 988kmh and can carry up to 345 passengers across four classes.
At a press briefing held at Madinat Jumeirah, British Airways chairman Sir Martin Broughton said: “The growth of the aviation industry has been one of the most significant developments in travel and we are especially proud to have been a part of it in the Middle East. British Airways has always been committed to using our expertise, experience and knowledge to make flying an enjoyable and exciting experience for customers. We’ve pioneered many aviation firsts and are currently two years into a £5 billion investment plan that includes new aircraft, smarter cabins, elegant lounges and new technologies.”
Laila Ali Bin Hareb, executive director of strategy and international affairs at General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), said: “Celebrating British Airways’ 80th anniversary in the United Arab Emirates has a special taste. British Airways has been flying uninterrupted to the region for 80 years now, and celebrating this momentous occasion here makes a perfect match. It was the first airline to ever fly in UAE airspace back in 1932, and since then it has been witnessing the impressive growth of the UAE aviation sector.”
Since the first flight in 1932, the Middle East has been a key market for British Airways. Currently the airline flies to eight cities in six GCC countries with 68 flights per week during the winter schedule, including three daily flights between Dubai and London Heathrow. Lebanon and Jordan were also recently added to the network.
Paolo De Renzis, area commercial manager, Middle East and Central Asia, said: “We have celebrated many great milestones in the region during the past 80 years. In this time, some of the most iconic aircraft have flown here, from the flying boats that landed on Dubai Creek to the Concorde which served Bahrain from 1976 to 1980 and more recently the Boeing 747, which is commonly referred to as the jumbo jet.”
Imperial Airways began flying to Dubai in October 1937 – 75 years ago this month. The C-Class flying boats flew from Southampton to Karachi, via Marseilles, Rome, Brindisi, Athens, Alexandria, Tiberias, Habbaniyeh, Basra, Bahrain, Dubai and Jiwani. BOAC - which stood for British Overseas Airways Corporation and was the result of a merger with Imperial Airways – started services from London Heathrow to Dubai in 1966. Two years later, BOAC began flying to Abu Dhabi.
The airline’s Concorde service flew between London Heathrow and Bahrain from 1976 to 1980. In February 1979, Queen Elizabeth flew to Kuwait on Concorde at the start of a three-week Middle East tour that also included Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. The Concorde flight from Heathrow to Kuwait took less than four hours. “As the aviation industry in the Middle East continues to grow, we look forward to being a part of its development for the next 80 years and beyond,” De Renzis said.
British Airways is also launching a special fare offer for Middle Eastern travellers to coincide with the 80th anniversary. Customers can discover Europe, the USA and Canada at special discounted fares if they book before October 31. The fares are applicable for First, Club World (business class), World Traveller Plus (premium economy) and World Traveller (economy) and are valid for travel before March 31, 2013. Fares from the UAE to London start from Dh2,770 in World Traveller. – TradeArabia News Service