Explore our past: 1950 - 1959

BOAC De Havilland Comet 4.
Explore our past: 1950
1 January

Mr Peter G Masefield was appointed Chief Executive of BEA.


The New York operating base was transferred from La Guardia to the new international airport at Idlewild.

16 April The first scheduled BEA service from London Airport, a Vickers Viking to Paris, took place.
mag The carriage of parcels mail on services to North America and Africa commenced.
1 July The world’s first regular scheduled helicopter passenger service, between Cardiff and Liverpool was opened by BEA.
28 July The world’s first gas turbine-powered service was flown by BEA from Northolt to Le Bourget, Paris with a Vickers V630 Viscount aircraft.
6/7 August A Handley Page Hermes aircraft was introduced on BOAC’s UK to African services. The first flight by G-ALDJ Hengist replaced York aircraft on the London-Tripoli-Kano-Lagos-Accra.
Ottobre The Avro York aircraft was withdrawn from service.
7 November BOAC replaced its Southampton to Johannesburg Solent flying boat services with a thrice-weekly Hermes service from London to Johannesburg via Tripoli, Kano, Brazzaville and Livingstone. BOAC then withdrew all Solents, which had been the airline’s last flying boats. Imperial Airways and BOAC had maintained continuous flying boat operations since 1924.
Explore our past: 1951
1 March BOAC introduced their luxury Monarch service to New York using the Stratocruiser, which offered sleeper accommodation.
Luglio BOAC operations through Malta were withdrawn, with the services taken over by BEA. All BOAC’s East African services were re-routed to operate through Rome.
8 October The first Royal flight by BOAC took place. The then Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh flew to Montreal in a Stratocruiser for their Canadian tour (G-AKGK Canopus, Captain O P Jones).
Explore our past: 1952
7 February HM Queen Elizabeth II arrived at London Airport from East Africa in BOAC Argonaut G-ALHK Atalanta, following the death of her father, King George VI.
13 March The first scheduled BEA Airspeed 'Elizabethan' service operated between London Airport and Paris.
1 May The world’s first tourist fare was introduced by BOAC on the North Atlantic route.
2 May BOAC flew the world’s first pure jet service. The Comet G-ALYP operated from London Airport to Johannesburg via Rome, Beirut, Khartoum, Entebbe and Livingstone.
16 June The first BEA ‘Silver Wing’ service operated on the London to Paris route with Airspeed 'Elizabethan' aircraft.
26 October A fare of £8 return fare was introduced by BEA on the London to Scotland route.
Explore our past: 1953
1 April BEA introduced Tourist fares on routes throughout Europe.
3 April BOAC introduced Comet jet services to Tokyo, thus reducing the flight time from 86 hours to 33 hours.
18 April BEA began the world’s first sustained airscrew-turbined airliner passenger service with Vickers Viscount V.701 G-AMNY, flying London-Rome-Athens-Nicosia.
19 May BEA’s Kensington Air Station closed. However the Waterloo Air Terminal was opened.

Tourist services by BOAC to Pakistan, India, Ceylon, Persian Gulf, East Africa and Trinidad commenced.

BOAC’s Handley Page Hermes aircraft were withdrawn from service.

8 - 10 October BEA operated the Viscount V.700 G-AMAV in the Transport Handicap section of the London to Christchurch Air Race. It flew the 12,365 miles in 40 hours 43 minutes calling at Bahrain, Colombo, Cocos Islands and Melbourne.
Explore our past: 1954
10 January/8 April Two BOAC Comet aircraft exploded in mid-air within three months of each other, causing the fleet to be grounded. Exhaustive tests revealed that the aircraft had suffered from metal fatigue.
30 October BEA operated its final service from Northolt, a DC-3 (G-AHCZ) to Jersey.
Explore our past: 1955
17 April Services from London Airport Central Area commenced. The first service was a BEA departure to Amsterdam on a Viscount G-ALWE Discovery.
9 May BOAC introduced a tourist class London to Sydney weekly service, using a Constellation aircraft.
Luglio BOAC moved into its new centralised headquarters at London Airport.
25 July BEA began scheduled passenger helicopter services between London Airport and the South Bank Heliport at Waterloo. The first flight was operated by a Westland-Sikorsky S55 helicopter, G-ANUK. The service was eventually discontinued on 31 May 1956, having carried 3,822 revenue passengers.
30 December BOAC took delivery of its first two Bristol Britannia 102 aircraft when G-ANBC and G-ANBD were delivered from Filton to London Airport.
Explore our past: 1956
1 May Mr Gerard D’Erlanger was appointed Chairman of BOAC in succession to Sir Miles Thomas.
3 May Mr Anthony Milward was appointed Chief Executive and Member of the Board of BEA.
15 October BOAC’s first Douglas DC-7C G-AOIA was handed over at a ceremony at Santa Monica, California.
8 November BOAC signed a contract for 15 Rolls-Royce engine-powered Boeing 707-436 aircraft.
Explore our past: 1957
6 January BOAC introduced DC-7C aircraft to New York and to San Francisco in March.
1 February BOAC introduced Bristol Britannia aircraft to the Johannesburg route and then on 2 March to Sydney.
13 February The first scheduled BEA 'Viscount' flights were operated between London and Glasgow. Two days later its first international flight, to Amsterdam, took place. Both flights were operated by G-AOJD Sebastian Cabot.
2 March BOAC introduced Bristol Britannia services to Sydney.
29 June A BOAC Britannia 312 made the first ever non-stop flight from London to Canada’s Pacific coast, flying the 5,100 miles to Vancouver in 14 hours 40 minutes.
6 October BEA’s West London Air Terminal at Cromwell Road was opened.
19 December BOAC operated the first gas-turbine transatlantic scheduled passenger service with Bristol Britannia 312 aircraft between London and New York.
Explore our past: 1958
1 May Mixed-classes, First Class and Tourist, were introduced by BEA.
30 July The last scheduled service by a BEA Airspeed Ambassador 'Elizabethan' aircraft took place.
4 October BOAC operated the first jet service across the North Atlantic to New York using the Comet 4. G-APDB operated the eastbound flight and G-APDC operated the westbound. The two aircraft passed about 300 miles apart at 47degW at 1335Z. Sir Gerard d’Erlanger, BOAC’s Chairman, aboard the westbound aircraft and Basil Smallpiece, Managing Director, in the eastbound aircraft exchanged messages during the flights.
6 October All BOAC Lockheed Constellations were withdrawn from service.
1 November BEA introduced cheap weekend fares on UK domestic trunk routes.
19 December BOAC’s De Havilland Comet 4 services to Canada commenced. The London to Montreal service was operated by G-APDC.
Explore our past: 1959
20 January The first flight of a Vickers-Armstrong Vanguard aircraft, prototype G-AOYW, took place.
21 January BOAC operated a De Havilland Comet 4 proving flight to Tokyo, using G-APDC.
31 March Britannia 312 G-AOVT left London for New York and Tokyo to inaugurate BOAC’s round-the-world service, which then operated regularly from August 1960. The following day, Comet 4 G-APDH inaugurated the eastward round-the-world service.
14 May BEA services between London and Moscow commenced with Vickers 'Viscount' aircraft.
30/31 May The last service using a BOAC Stratocruiser took place. The routing was from London-Barcelona-Kano-Accra on 30 May and Accra-Kano-Barcelona-London the following day, by G-ANTY Coriolanus.
Luglio BOAC began an all-cargo service between London and Hong Kong.
20 August BOAC started the first regular round-the-world service by Britannia 312 aircraft, operating via San Francisco and Hong Kong.
1 November The inaugural flight of a BOAC De Havilland Comet 4 aircraft on the London to Sydney route took place.
2 December The inaugural flight of a BOAC Comet 4 aircraft on the London to Johannesburg route took place.