British Caledonian was a private, British independent airline, operating out of Gatwick Airport in south-east England during the 1970s and 1980s. It was created as an alternative to the British government-controlled corporation airlines. It was formed by the UK’s second-largest, independent charter airline Caledonian Airways, taking over British United Airways (BUA), then the largest British independent airline and the United Kingdom’s leading independent scheduled carrier.
The BUA takeover enabled Caledonian to realise its long-held ambition to transform itself into a scheduled airline. The merged entity eventually became the UK’s foremost independent, international scheduled airline.
A series of major financial setbacks during the mid-1980s combined with the airline’s inability to grow sufficiently to reach a viable size put the airline at serious risk of collapse. British Caledonian began looking for a merger partner to improve its competitive position.
In December 1987, British Airways (BA) gained control of the airline. The Caledonian name and livery was then used to rebrand BA’s Gatwick-based subsidiary British Airtours as Caledonian Airways.