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The Prisoner and the Penguin by Giles Lury

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69 FROM BLOODY AWFUL TOBLOODY AWESOME

The British Airways Board was established in 1971 to control two nationalized airline corporations – BOAC and BEA – and two smaller, regional airlines, Cambrian Airways and Northeast Airlines. On 31 March 1974, all four companies were merged to form British Airways.

Now fully and directly under government ownership, it was far from plain sailing for the business. Over the next decade, British Airways slid into a position where it was seen as an increasingly archaic public institution with a huge, unproductive work force and lax management that was producing huge losses.

A standing joke of the time was: “What does BA really stand for?”, with the answer “Bloody Awful!”

The government dreamed of denationalizing ...

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