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Britannia Airways (Hardback)

The World's Largest Holiday Airline

Aviation Civil Aviation Photographic Books Colour Books 20th Century

By Graham M. Simons
Imprint: Air World
Pages: 288
Illustrations: 175 colour
ISBN: 9781526758781
Published: 9th November 2020

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Founded in 1961 as Euravia by British businessman Ted Langton and aviation consultant J.E.D. Walker, at a time of considerable turmoil for the independent sector of the British air operators’ industry, Britannia Airways went on to become the world’s largest holiday airline.

Just as Court Line evolved from Autair, so Britannia Airways evolved from Euravia. Both UK airlines had strong links with the travel industry; Court Line with Clarksons Holidays, and Britannia with the Thomson Group, in particular the ‘Sky Tours’ brand. Both were innovative in their own ways, and both grabbed the UK travel industry by the scruff of the neck and shook it into the jet age – Court line travelling down the brasher cheap-and-cheerful road, while Britannia took the more staid, upmarket route.

By 1972, Britannia had developed to such a degree that it was the biggest of the British independent charter airlines. It was also a ground-breaking operation - during the late 1960s, it became the first charter airline to offer assigned seating, as well as hot in-flight meals. Prior to the mid-1970s, Britannia, much like other British carter airlines of the era, had concentrated upon low-cost flights to Spain and the use of provincial airports to provide its services. The company’s management, however, harboured ambitions to grow beyond this. As a result, for example, Britannia's 767s began regular charter flights between Britain and Australia in 1988, a route to New Zealand being added the following year.

Between 1968 and 1984, Britannia carried nearly forty-two million passengers, while the company’s fleet grew to include twenty-nine Boeing 737s and a pair of 767s. Drawing on the author’s in-depth research and knowledge, as well as first-hand interviews with individuals such as Ted Langton, the original tour operator who wanted his own airline, and Jed Williams, who created Britannia, this the full story of one of the most important airlines in the history of civil aviation.

As featured by

Website of the Royal Aeronautical Society

Combined with archive publicity material both from Britannia and their Tour Operators such as Lunn Poly and Sky Tours, the book is a visual feast. So despite the shortcomings of the text, I’d recommend this book to all Civil Aviation fans everywhere.

Steve Knight via Facebook

The book is concise in its historical facts along with the many colour photographs within. A nice study of this well-known airline from past years, one, which incidentally, I few on regularly whilst stationed in Berlin in the 1980’s with the RAF.

Review by Andy Thomson

The author has expertly recreated the story through 14 chapters which cover not only the aviation aspect – the aircraft, routes, operations and finer details – but also the human stories, including the crews and staff who were behind Britannia Airways.

The enthusiast will delight in the details included, such as a complete fleet listing in the final chapter with details of every single aircraft known to have flown for Britannia up to it becoming TUI, including leased aircraft and even flying club Pipers!

They will also love the many pictures of aircraft, airports and behind the scenes, including many classic views from the early days, and aircraft wearing different liveries. There’s even a chapter looking at mergers, such as that with Orion Airways and its fleet.

The book is well-researched and well written, and I loved learning more about Britannia and reminiscing about my own experiences with the airline.

Read the full review here

Airport Spotting
 Graham M. Simons

About Graham M. Simons

GRAHAM M. SIMONS was one of the founders of the world-famous aviation museum at Duxford near Cambridge where his interest was piqued watching the making of the film Battle of Britain there in the late 1960s. From this, and with an engineering background, he progressed to membership of a number of aviation societies, including sitting on the British Aviation Preservation Council, eventually taking the position of Engineering Director with one group. Graham combines his love of writing with his skills in production to create and publish aviation histories focused on a variety of subjects.

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