For BA, the first half of 1987 was dominated by its privatisation.
In February, the share offer was oversubscribed by nearly 23 times and, when trading opened on the 11th, more than 290 million shares were traded in a single day. "It's just like last night of the Proms," said BA chairman Lord King after posting a 'list closed' sign outside Lloyds Bank.
In July, nearly 1,800 shareholders packed into London's Royal Albert Hall for the first ever AGM of British Airways Plc, where Lord King announced a proposed merger with British Caledonian. This was implemented in December, and together the companies could boast a joint fleet of nearly 200 aircraft capable of carrying more than 22 million passengers a year, and controlled 70 per cent of the UK flight market, with a combined annual turnover of nearly £4bn and 46,000 staff.
This was also the year that five new recruits became BA's first women pilots, joining more than 2,000 men on the flight decks. They were among 100 trained pilots appointed during BA's first recruitment drive for eight years. According to the Civil Aviation Authority, only 31 of the 4,911 registered airline pilots at that time were women.
"After the cost, the biggest obstacle facing women pilots is prejudice," said new recruit Lynn Barton. "Recently, when I made a public address from the cabin, a male passenger told the air hostess he would not have boarded if he had known it was a female pilot. It turned out he was an RAF officer."
BA stated at the time that it hoped to employ more than 100 women pilots by the end of the century — a target it achieved.
The airline was also investing heavily in new technology. In July, BA and its subsidiary Travicom joined the £75m Galileo computer reservations system formed by nine European carriers. And in September, BA declared that it was to spend more than £50m on new computer equipment, software and a database management system.
In November, BA announced record interim pre-tax profits of £232m for the first half of the financial year. It also launched a massive £25m revamp for business travellers, with two new brands, Club World and Club Europe, offering roomier cabins, priority services and express check-in at Heathrow. "We have set ourselves the ultimate goal," said BA CEO Sir Colin Marshall. "To be the best airline in the world, and no less."
On a roll
In 1987, American pilot Robert Plath invented the two-wheeled, collapsible-handled carry-on case for flight crew. Such was Rollaboard's success that within a few years Plath had ditched his uniform and launched Travelpro, still a leading luggage brand today.
blog comments powered by