THE FLEET

Purser's Office

Cunard Eagle Airways

At the start of the sixties, British Eagle International Airways - founded in 1948 as Eagle Aviation by war time pilot and aviation entrepreneur Harold Bamburg - attracted the attention of Cunard Steamship Company. Cunard was anxious to obtain a stake in the airlines, which for the first time since 1955, carried more passengers to New York than did the shipping lines. With Cunard purchasing a 60% share in Eagle Aviation, the two unlikely partners formed Cunard Eagle Airways and filed an application with the newly formed Air Transport Licensing Board (ATLB) ofr permission to operate a scheduled service between London and New York. Bolstered by the infusion of capitol, Eagle signed a letter of agreement on March 21, 1961, to purchase two Conway-powered 707-400s, with an option for a third.

Despite vigorous opposition from BOAC, on June 22, 1961, the ATLB announced a decision in favour of Cunard Eagle, giving the national carrier 21 days in which to appeal. In a decision that shocked the independent UK airline industry, made known on November 21, the Minister of Aviation upheld BOAC's appeal of the awarding of a 15 year license to Cunard Eagle to operate a daily round trip service between the UK and New York. Read More.........