In 2016, British Airways proudly celebrated 80 years of flying to Hong Kong and announced a major exhibition co-presented with the Media, Culture and Creative Cities Postgraduate Programme (MCCC). The exhibition tracked the history of Hong Kong’s civil aviation development against social, cultural, and political transformations in Hong Kong over the decades. It tells compelling and moving stories that connect histories of two cultures through valuable archival images, artefacts, and oral testimonials provided by British Airways as well as MCCC students.

On 24 March 1936 British Airways pioneered the establishment of commercial air links between the UK and Hong Kong. On that day Imperial Airways, a predecessor airline of today’s British Airways, flew into Kai Tak airport ending a journey that had taken eight days, with eight night stops, including two days on a train between Paris in France and Brindisi in Italy, operating five different aircraft types. Eight days would be unthinkable today, but in 1936 it brought Hong Kong into the modern world of rapid communication by air of people, mail, and cargo, taking days rather than weeks by ship.

Eighty years later and British Airways has grown with Hong Kong, contributing significantly to its commercial, cultural, and social links, both with the UK and the rest of the world. In an unbroken timeline of services to Hong Kong, British Airways had the honour also to be the first commercial airline to land at Hong Kong’s then new airport at Chep Lap Kok on 6 July 1998. Today, Hong Kong continues to hold a unique place at the heart of British Airways’ rich history. From a fishing village to ‘Asia’s World City’, British Airways is proud to continue to contribute to its present and future developments with its daily Airbus 380 and daily Boeing 777 direct services.

The Board of Directors at British Airways wishes to express its sincere thanks to the Department of Sociology, Faculty of Social Sciences, the University of Hong Kong, for its generosity in providing the exhibition venue MC³ @702 Creative Space, and would like to extend its gratitude to its staff and students for their support.

The Directors at British Airways would also like to acknowledge the contribution made by many individuals, both withing and outside the company, who have dedicated their time and expertise to the exhibition.

British Airways would like to thank Ming-Ai (London) Institute and the British Airways Heritage Collection for their help and support to make this exhibition possible.