British Airways (BA) is the flag carrier and the largest airline in the United Kingdom based on fleet size, or the second largest, behind easyJet, when measured by passengers carried. The airline is based in Waterside near its main hub at London Heathrow Airport. In January 2011 BA merged with Iberia, creating the International Airlines Group (IAG), a holding company registered in Madrid, Spain. IAG is the world's third-largest airline group in terms of annual revenue and the second-largest in Europe. It is listed on the London Stock Exchange and in the FTSE 100 Index.
BA was created in 1974 after a British Airways Board was established by the British government to manage the two nationalised airline corporations, British Overseas Airways Corporation and British European Airways, and two regional airlines, Cambrian Airways from Cardiff, and Northeast Airlines from Newcastle upon Tyne. On 31 March 1974, all four companies were merged to form British Airways. After almost 13 years as a state company, BA was privatised in February 1987 as part of a wider privatisation plan by the Conservative government. The carrier expanded with the acquisition of British Caledonian in 1987, Dan-Air in 1992, and British Midland International in 2012. The airline has long been considered a national symbol of the United Kingdom's status as a global power. Its preeminence also highlighted the reach of the country's influence as many of its destinations in several regions were historically part of the British Empire.
A long-time Boeing customer, BA ordered 59 Airbus A320 family aircraft in August 1998. In 2007 it purchased 12 Airbus A380s and 24 Boeing 787 Dreamliners, marking the start of its long-haul fleet replacement. The centrepiece of the airline's long-haul fleet is the Boeing 777, with 58 in the fleet. BA is the largest operator of the Boeing 747-400, with 41 registered to the airline. It is a founding member of the Oneworld airline alliance, along with American Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Qantas, and the now defunct Canadian Airlines. The alliance has since grown to become the third largest, after SkyTeam and Star Alliance.