BA celebrates 80 years of Bermuda service
British Airways marked 80 years of service to the island with a glitzy reception at the Hamilton Princess last night.
And the airline marked the occasion by announcing a limited-time 20 per cent discount on fares for Bermuda-London flights.
Michael Dunkley, the Premier and John Rankin, the Governor, and some of the island's major BA customers were among the guests who enjoyed a fashion show of sorts with models sporting the different BA cabin crew uniforms over the decades.
Simon Brooks, BA's senior vice-president of sales for North America, who oversees the airline's Bermuda business, announced that customers could pay 80 per cent of the fare for flights connecting Bermuda and London across all classes to mark the 80th anniversary.
This will apply to flights booked through May 14 for travel between August 4, 2017 and April 24, 2018.
That means that fares will start from $780 round-trip in economy seats, including taxes and fees.
Imperial Airlines, one of the predecessor companies that evolved into the modern BA, started off the Bermuda service in 1937, with a flying boat called Cavalier — but the route was not to London, rather to New York. London was considered too far from Bermuda for the Cavalier to fly.
For that reason, the aircraft was sent to Bermuda in pieces, on board a ship from England, and assembled on the island.
The Imperial Airlines flight cut the journey time from Bermuda to New York from 40 hours to five hours and first flew on June 12, 1937.
In 1939, Imperial merged with British Overseas Airways Corporation, and three years later, as the Second World War raged, came one of the most famous episodes in BA's Bermuda history, involving Britain's Prime Minister of the time, Winston Churchill.
In January 1942, Mr Churchill had visited the US and was on his way back to Britain. He took the BOAC Boeing 314 flying boat Berwick as far as Bermuda and the plan was for him to complete his Atlantic crossing aboard a British ship, which would take about another week.
Mr Churchill was anxious to get back quickly and keen to fly the whole journey back to England. His request was eventually reluctantly agreed to by the Berwick's captain, Kelly Rogers, and the plane made it back to land in Plymouth,
As part of last night's event, a photograph was displayed of Mr Churchill at the controls of the aircraft in Bermuda, with trademark fat cigar in mouth.
Mr Brooks said Bermuda was a significant destination for BA and the route was among the longest-running continuous links in the BA network. “There are many destinations that have not lasted 80 weeks, so to last for 80 years is a great reflection of the strength of our partnership,” Mr Brooks said.
And he promised that customers had many improvements to look forward to, in addition to BA's move to its new home at London's Gatwick Airport, the South Terminal, which will feature upgraded lounges, 40 per cent more floor space and play areas for children, Mr Brooks said more investments were coming.
“In the next two years, the product will change,” Mr Brooks said. “In Club World, we will introduce new high-quality linens, pillows and duvets and we will be introducing a new upgraded seat.
“And we will also be investing in premium training for BA cabin crew in order to deliver a better quality of service to the customer.”
He said the airline worked closely with BTA to increase the number of visitors to the island.
Mr Dunkley said the island would continue to be “a blue-chip destination” and said that with the new hotels being built on the island, “the next 80 years are looking better than the first 80”.