Hollywood star Naomi Watts sizzled like the Australian sun as she recreated an iconic British Airways poster to celebrate the 80th anniversary of the airline flying Down Under.
The Oscar-nominated actress donned a vintage swimsuit for a modern version of the classic image, which was used decades ago to promote flying to the exciting new country of Australia in the South Pacific.
Talented Naomi – famous for her roles in movies including Birdman, The Ring and Mulholland Drive – has a special bond with both Britain and Australia having been born in Kent before emigrating to Australia with her family aged of 14.
She became a household name in Home and Away; rose to fame in Flirting; moved to Hollywood; won coveted awards and has been nominated for Oscars; and now Naomi Watts headlines the 80th anniversary celebrations of British Airways flying to her adopted home of Australia.
Naomi said: “It has been great to go back in time with British Airways and recreate an iconic poster from such a glamorous era. I love the vintage style from the golden age of travel so it was really fun to bring this to life.
“Eighty years is an incredible landmark for British Airways, and with a personal connection to both countries it’s really special to take part in celebrating the history of travel between Australia and the UK.”
The first British Airways flight for paying customers from London to Australia took off on April 13, 1935, under the name of Imperial Airways – British Airways predecessor – in conjunction with Qantas Empire Airways.
The 12,754 mile trip departed London for Australia (completing its journey in Brisbane) on a 12-day adventure via a host of major cities around the world including Baghdad, Delhi, Bangkok and Singapore. In those early days the journey began with a flight to Paris to connect to an overnight train to Brindisi, where passengers would resume their air journey as political considerations then prevented Imperial Airways flying over Italy. In all, there would be no less than ten nights spent along the route in carefully selected hotels and a one-way ticket would cost $376 (£195) – that’s $23,470 (£12,158) in today’s currency and nearly twice the price of return ticket in British Airways’ luxurious First cabin today.
A decade later in 1945, British Airways began its first weekly service to Australia on what would later be dubbed ‘The Kangaroo Route’. More recently in 1986, British Airways began offering airline customers the fastest one-stop flights between London and Australia following the arrival of the Boeing 747 aircraft.
The airline now operates daily flights between London and Sydney, continuing to fly via Singapore just as the original Kangaroo route did. Passengers can choose to travel in one of four cabins on-board British Airways’ Boeing 777-300ER, with First, Club World business class, World Traveller Plus premium economy and World Traveller economy all on offer. Passengers flying to London will also land at the state-of-the-art Terminal 5 at London Heathrow, which is exclusive to British Airways’ and was named by Skytrax as the Best Airport Terminal for the third year running in March 2014.
Eighty years on from that first passenger flight, British Airways has carried more than 1.3 billion customers on its extensive global network, flying approximately 36 million customers per year to more than 179 destinations, in 75 countries.
Keith Williams, Executive Chairman of British Airways, said the innovative spirit, which saw British Airways begin flying passengers from London to Australia for the first time back in 1935 still runs through the company today.
He said: “Flying customers that distance, across multiple continents to Australia had never been done before and was by no means an easy feat in the 1930s. It required a pioneering spirit and vision, something that remains a quality of British Airways to this day.
“We continued to invest in the latest aircraft and cabins so that customers in Australia can travel in comfort and enjoy the British service we’re renowned for – just as they did 80 years ago.
“As the only European airline to still fly to the country, we are extremely proud to be celebrating 80 years of connecting our two great nations.”