British Caledonian

British Caledonian

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.


1976 – Official Opening of Kitwe Sales Office (British Caledonian)

Official Opening of Kitwe Sales Office (British Caledonian)

31 July 1976




The Societé Anonyme Belge d’Exploitation de la Navigation Aérienne (Belgian Corporation for Air Navigation Services) is better known internationally by the acronym SABENA, was the national airline of Belgium from 1923 to 2001, with its base at Brussels National Airport.

In the 1960’s, SABENA was mainland Europe’s first airline to operate a jet across the Atlantic. Six Caravelle jetliners were introduced on all medium-haul routes in Europe from February 1961.

The beginning of the 1960s saw a major upheaval for Sabena in the Congo. Widespread rioting against Belgian colonials in the months leading up to, and after the independence of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, caused thousands of Belgians to flee the country. The Belgian government commandeered Sabena’s entire long haul fleet to get the refugees back to Europe. Independence also meant the end of the impressive regional network of routes that the airline had built up in the Congo since 1924. When the new republic began its own airline, Air Congo, in June 1961, Sabena held 30 percent of that airline’s shares.

After its bankruptcy in 2001, the newly formed SN Brussels Airlines took over part of Sabena’s assets in February 2002, which became Brussels Airlines after a merger with Virgin Express in March 2007. The airline’s corporate headquarters were located in the Sabena House on the grounds of Brussels Airport in Zaventem.

Flight Covers


1964 – First Flight Central Africa to UK

First Flight Central Africa to UK

6 November 1964

With the introduction into service of the Vickers VC10 on 1 October 1964, British United Airways (BUA) became the first private UK carrier to begin sustained jet operations. BUA’s takeover of the South American services of British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) to Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Uruguay on 5 November 1964 marked a major expansion of its long-haul scheduled network. The network was also expanded into Central Africa.

Flight Details

  • Date:6 November 1964
  • Flight No.:
  • Carrier: British United Airways
  • Plane: Vickers VC 10

First Flight Covers




Alitalia – Linee Aeree Italiane S.p.A. was established on 16 September 1946 as Aerolinee Italiane Internazionali (Italian International Airlines). It was formed as a result of an Anglo-Italian agreement and was funded by the Italian government and British European Airways (BEA) in a 60/40 share arrangement with a capital of 900 million lire (£1,000,000).

Its popular name, Alitalia, blended the Italian words ali (wings) and Italia (Italy). It started operations on 5 May 1947.

In 1967, Alitalia was selected to run the airline after Zambia Airways‘s splitting from Central African Airways (CAA) later that year. Pan African Air Services and Flying Tiger Line also participated as bidders for the management contract.

In July, a new airport was inaugurated in Lusaka. On 1 September 1967, following the Zambia Airways Act, which appointed the carrier to operate both domestically and internationally after the collapse of CAA, Zambia Airways Corporation was formed in order to take over Zambia Airways, the former CAA’s subsidiary. Technical and management assistance was provided by Alitalia.

By 1975, the contract with Alitalia was cancelled and a similar one was signed with Aer Lingus.


1967 – Inaugural Flight from Lusaka to Rome

Inaugural Flight from Lusaka to Rome

28 July 1967

Flight Details

  • Date: 28 July, 1967
  • Flight No.: AZ 529
  • Carrier: Alitalia
  • Plane: Douglas DC-8

First Flight Cover


1956 – First Direct Airlink between Dar-es-Salaam and Ndola

First Direct Airlink between Dar-es-Salaam and Ndola

4 March 1956

On 4 March 1956, East African Airways established an airlink between Dar-es-Salaam, Tanganyika to Ndola, Northern Rhodesia.


1932 – First Regular Mail Service to London (From Inyanga)

First Regular Mail Service to London

From Inyanga


From Inyanga to England

1934 – First Mail Service to Australia & New Zealand (To Dutch East Indies)

First Regular Mail Service to Australia

To Dutch East Indies


From Mpika to Dutch East Indies
From Salisbury to Dutch East Indies

1934 – First Mail Service to Australia & New Zealand (To New Zealand)

First Regular Mail Service to Australia

To New Zealand


From Broken Hill to New Zealand
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