British Eagle

Now, as British Eagle International, it made a loss in I963 but began a climb back to profitability. Within the next two years its fleet comprised 17 Bristol Britannia 300s (it was to operate 23 in all) and seven Viscount 700s. It acquired Starways and re-named it British Eagle (Liverpool).


British Eagle extended its network of internal services in I963 by launching operations from London on the domestic trunk routes to Glasgow, Edinburgh and Belfast ending BEA’s 18-year monopoly. It operated Britannias in competition with BEA’s Vanguards. “There were a lot of complaints about BEA’s service,” Bamberg recalled. “We offered hot breakfasts, trickle loading and a lot of other minor innovations in terms of public service.”


BEA responded by “sandwiching” the newcomer’s services. “It was quite scandalous what they got up to,” fumes the airline’s archivist and historian, former avionics engineer Eric Tarrant. “The great thing was that we raised the standard, and that was acknowledged in Parliament.”


British Eagle ordered three BAC O ne-Elevens in 1965 and took options on a further three. It was, Bamberg wrote in the airline’s staff newspaper, “a big step for us.” It was the first British carrier to fly jets on domestic services. Ralph Kohn was one of the pilots. “The One-Eleven was my first jet,” he recalled. “I transferred to it from Britannias. It was great fun. We went to resorts like Pisa and Rimini. I can also remember flying to Djerba.”