Britannia Airways: Holiday Carrier to the World


Britannia Airways is the world's largest holiday airline, offering service on a network of flights from the United Kingdom and Europe to destinations around the world.

Britannia began operations in 1962 under the name Euravia. The airline flew three Lockheed Constellations based at Luton in the United Kingdom. Late in the same year, Britannia acquired three more Constellations and rights to operate additional services using two Avro York Freighters. In 1964 the airline became Britannia Airways and renewed its fleet with Bristol Britannia turboprop airliners. The total number of passengers carried in 1964 was 131,296.

The following year Britannia, its sister tour operation Universal Skytours, and a number of other tour operators in the United Kingdom were bought by the Thomson Corporation, forming what is today known as the Thomson Travel Group. In 1966, Britannia ordered its first brand-new airplane, the 737-200, to enter the jet age. The airline became the first in Europe to operate the 737-200, which brought new standards of speed and comfort to holiday flights. Over the coming years, the 737 carried 130 passengers per flight to destinations up to 2,000 miles away.

By 1967, the fleet consisted of seven Britannia airplanes carrying a total of 326,802 passengers. Britannia soon became the first charter airline to offer assigned seating, as well as hot in-flight meals. Britannia carried nearly 42 million passengers between 1968 and 1984, and the fleet grew to include twenty-nine Boeing 737s and two Boeing 767s.

In 1984, Britannia became the first U.K. holiday airline to offer passengers free in-flight audio and video entertainment when it became the first airline to operate the Boeing 767 in Europe. In 1988, these airplanes were used to begin regular charter flights from Britain to Australia, as well as to New Zealand the following year. That same year Britannia took over Orion Airways, following the purchase of Orion's parent company, Horizon Travel, by the Thomson Travel Group.

Britannia modernized its fleet in the 1990s and expanded its route network to holiday destinations in Asia, Canada, South Africa, and the United States.During 1997, 34 percent of Britannia's flights were to long-haul destinations.

To operate holiday flights for German tour operators, Britannia formed a wholly owned subsidiary company based in Germany in 1997. The airline, known as Britannia Airways GmbH, operates a fleet of two 767-300s. The inaugural flight departed from Berlin to the Dominican Republic on Nov. 3, 1997. Britannia Airways GmbH currently employs about 200 people, with flights originating from Berlin, Cologne, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Hanover, Munich, and Stuttgart, as well as from Basel, Switzerland.

During the summer of 1998, Britannia operations in Germany, Scandinavia, and the United Kingdom operated a fleet of three Airbus A320s, one 737-800, twenty-four 757s, and thirteen 767s.

Boeing Boeing Commercial Airplane Group is proud to present the history of Britannia Airways, an industry partner whose profitable and safe operations continue with the Boeing 757 and 767. All content is provided by Britannia Airways.
- Editor

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