British European Airways

British European Airways (BEA) — formally British European Airways Corporation — was a British airline which existed from 1946 until 1974.

BEA operated to Europe, North Africa and the Middle East from airports around the United Kingdom. The airline was also the largest UK domestic operator, serving major British cities, including London, Manchester, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Belfast, as well as remote areas of the British Isles such as the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. From 1946 until 1974, BEA operated a network of internal German routes between West Berlin and West Germany as well.

Formed as the British European Airways division of British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) on 1 January 1946, BEA became a crown corporation in its own right on 1 August 1946.

Operations commenced from Croydon and Northolt airports, with DH89A Dragon Rapides and Douglas DC-3s.

Having established its main operating base at Northolt, BEA operated its first service from Heathrow in April 1950; by late-1954, all Northolt operations had moved to Heathrow, which remained the airline's main operating base until the merger with BOAC in 1974.

During 1952, BEA carried its one-millionth passenger, and by the early 1960s it had become the Western world's fifth-biggest passenger-carrying airline and the biggest outside the United States.

In 1950, BEA operated the world's first turbine-powered commercial air service with Vickers' Viscount 630 prototype, from London to Paris. The airline entered the jet age in 1960 with de Havilland's DH106 Comet 4B. On 1 April 1964, it became the first to operate the DH121 Trident; on 10 June 1965, a BEA Trident 1C performed the world's first automatic landing during a scheduled commercial air service.

For most of its existence, BEA was headquartered at BEAline House in Ruislip, London Borough of Hillingdon.

BEA ceased to exist as a legal entity on 1 April 1974 when the merger with BOAC to form British Airways (BA) took effect.

Read more about British European AirwaysAircraft Operated, Incidents and Accidents, City Centre Check-in Facilities, Reuse of Name, In Popular Culture, Notes and Citations

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