12/14/2001: British World Airlines Ceased Operations

British World Airlines could trace it history back to 1963 and had built a reputable ACMI business.



December 14, 2023

DALLAS — Today in Aviation, London Southend Airport (SEN)-based British World Airlines (VF) ceased operations in 2001. Management blamed the demise on the downturn in aviation following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Two of its ACMI customers had recently collapsed, leaving the airline close to £1 million in debt.

Before the turn of the new millennium, VF specialized in supplying backup aircraft to airlines such as British Airways (BA), Air France (AF), and easyJet (U2). At the time of the collapse, the airline employed 320 people and operated six BAe ATPs, three Boeing 737-300s and a single Boeing 757-200.

British Air Ferries, later British World, was the world's largest Vickers Viscount operator. Photo: JetPix (GFDL 1.2 or GFDL 1.2), via Wikimedia Commons.

British World's Origins

British World Airlines can trace its history to the merger of Channel Air Bridge and Silver City Airways on January 1, 1963. The two carriers were renamed British United Air Ferries (BUAF). Following a restructuring in September 1967, the airline was renamed British Air Ferries (BAF).

In March 1970, the airline leased its first Vickers Viscount from Aer Lingus (EI). The type would become synonymous with the airline. In the early 1980s, BAF acquired British Airways' 18-strong fleet of Viscounts following its decision to retire the type. This acquisition made BAF the largest Viscount operator in the world.

On April 6, 1993, BAF was renamed British World Airlines (BWA). The new identity reflected that it could supply aircraft anywhere at any time. The airline received its first ATR-72 in March 1996. BWA would use them to replace the Viscount, which operated the last ever passenger flight, a tour around the UK on April 18.

British World operated six BAe ATPs. Photo: Michel Gilliand (GFDL 1.2 or GFDL 1.2), via Wikimedia Commons.

Featured Image: British World Boeing 737-300 (G-OBWX). Photo: JetPix (GFDL 1.2 or GFDL 1.2), via Wikimedia Commons