"The Home Of Eagle"
Eagle Aviation
Eagle Airways
Cunard Eagle
British Eagle
1948 to 1968

Death of an Airline

6th November 1968


The final year had started with an element of excitement with the delivery of two Ex Qantas Boeing 707-138's. A new 707-365c had been handed over to Eagle at the end of 1967 but had been leased to Middle East Airlines. The new BAC one elevens were in service. But the tourist market was being depressed by the restriction of what money you were allowed to take out of the country (£50). The rejection of an application for a transatlantic licence was a blow to future plans.

The demise of any company that you have been a part of, in some cases for many years, always comes as a shock. The demise of British Eagle was no exception. There was something special about being a member of the staff at Eagle. It had its ups and downs but what place of work doesn't. Most of the staff were proud to be working for Eagle and the closure of the airline came as a shock to all.

1968 was to prove to be a sad year in a number of ways. The Viscount G-ATFN crashed in Germany, with the loss of all on board. Few will forget the news on 6th November 1968; it started like any other day to those who were not in the know. The afternoon line maintenance crews took over their duties on the central area from the morning crew only to be called back later to main base. There had been a brief note pinned to the notice board announcing the closure.

Within a few days the fleet being grounded by the closure were parked up around the hangers, a place that was usually full of activity was now silent.

Notice to all members of staff from
Harold Bamberg

Letter from Liquidator
Formal notice was received announcing a creditors meeting. Efforts were made by crewmembers to put up their pensions to save the operation but sadly to no avail. The years past slowly before final payments were made to staff. Preferential claims were met but non-preferential claims for staff were settled at 20.1p in the pound. The final payment was paid in September 1977. The lengthy business was not the fault of the airline but the long drawn out action that liquidation takes disposing of the company assets.

British Eagle was Britain's second largest independent airline. It had given much to the aviation industry. The government of the day seemed to care little for those who were in the private sector. Whilst financial aid was often given to state carriers, the independents were out on their own. Fair to say that any private enterprise has to stand on its own feet but there are times that help from the government can benefit industry. Sadly politicians can be blinkered.

In October the engineering base at Liverpool was closed with the loss of 400 jobs. IT licences to Bermuda and the Bahamas were revoked. Finally the banks withdrew their support. Some two thousand staff lost their jobs as a result of the crash.

The Britannia G-AOVG was the last passenger service from Paramaribo in Dutch Guinea and G-AOVM was the last cargo flight from Israel. Thus the British eagle fleet was grounded and awaited the work of the liquidator.

The editor of Air Pictorial stated
"that a substantial portion of the British air transport industry has been extinguished"


Main Base LHR
Pictures Courtesy of "Peter Buckland"




However the spirit of the British Eagle staff is seen today at the regular reunions held now once a year where many still meet together. After many years of closure Eagle memorabilia still commands a great deal of interest, as does the history of the airline.


Letter from Liquidator

Cheque from Liquidator


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