Snapshot of a communications turning point October 9 1997
It promised to be a moment for British
Airways staff to treasure when Margaret
Thatcher approached their stand at the
Conservative Party conference. Certainly
it became one BA would never forget.
The year was 1997 and the world’s
favorite airline, the UK national carrier,
had replaced the red, white and blue
Union flags on its aircraft’s tailfins with
“world images” designed to represent
the countries of BA’s global network.
The former Prime Minister was
unimpressed. “It’s absolutely ghastly…
we fly the British flag, not these awful
things,” she said, speaking with a
conviction that was once fashionable
among politicians. In case anyone missed
the point, she draped her handkerchief
over the tail of the model jumbo painted
in the new livery.
Television news captured and broadcast
the moment to a fascinated nation.
Newspapers printed screen shots with the
joy that comes so naturally to journalists at
the scene of corporate calamity. Never glad
confident morning again: the jazzy designs
seemed strangely diminished in the
months that followed. In 2001 the
airline returned to red, white and blue.