August 16, 2022
Today in Aviation: BWIA Becomes Caribbean Airways
Today in Aviation

Today in Aviation: BWIA Becomes Caribbean Airways

MIAMI – Today in Aviation, British West Indies Airways (BWIA) was replaced by Caribbean Airlines (BW) in 2006 after 66 years of operations.

BWIA commenced service on November 27, 1940, between Trinidad and Barbados using a single Lockheed L-18 Lodestar (VP-TAE). Tobago was also served thrice weekly.

The carrier was taken over by British South American Airways (BSAA) in 1947, and following the laters takeover by BOAC, BWIA became a subsidiary. BOAC subsequently sold its shares in the carrier to the government of Trinidad and Tobago, who became complete owners in 1967.

BOAC leased BWIA its first Boeing 707s to replace its Bristol Britannia on long-haul services in 1975. (Photo: Jon Proctor (GFDL 1.2 or GFDL 1.2, via Wikimedia Commons)

Expansion and Losses

From then on, BWIA expanded rapidly. Jet aircraft were introduced in 1964 when the Boeing 727 joined the fleet. In 1980 it introduced the Lockheed L1011-500 Tristar on its flagship London route.

Despite being one of the largest airlines in the Caribbean, BWIA had also incurred huge losses. On September 8, 2006, management announced that after numerous cash injections from the countries government, the airline would cease operations.

Caribbean Airlines retired the A340 it inherited from BWIA (9Y-TJN) in May 2007. (Photo: Arpingstone, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

Caribbean Airlines is Born

Taking over where BWIA left off, Caribbean Airlines was announced as the countries new state-owned airline. BW commenced services with a fleet of six Boeing 737-800s and a single A340-300.

On May 27, 2011, BW took complete control of Air Jamaica (JM). However, it too has had to streamline its operations to cut costs. In early 2016 it returned its two Boeing 767-300ERs and terminated its only long-haul service to London Gatwick (LGW).

Pre-pandemic, the carrier had a fleet of ten Boeing 737-800s and seven ATR-72s. It operates across the Caribbean plus points in the US, Canada and South America.

Featured image: A BWIA L1011-500 Tristar pictured at London Heathrow. (Photo: Ken Fielding/, CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons)

Writer, aviation fanatic, plant geek and part-time Flight Attendant for a UK based airline. Based in Liverpool, United Kingdom.

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