British Commonwealth Pacific Airlines

The in-depth histories of the individual aircraft that have been operated by British Commonwealth Pacific Airlines.





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BCPA Fleet:

Douglas DC-4

Douglas DC-6




Background Information


British Commonwealth Pacific Airlines or BCPA was an airline registered in New South Wales, Australia in June 1946 with headquarters in Sydney. It was formed by the governments of Australia (50%), New Zealand (30%) and the United Kingdom (20%) to pursue trans-Pacific flights. BCPA was later taken over by Qantas.

BCPA was formed by treaty through an 'Agreement between the Governments of Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom for the Formation of British Commonwealth Pacific Airlines Limited' with an initial capital of 10,000 Australian Pounds. The initial agreement was signed on August 04, 1947, with ownership restrictions between the governments removed on October 27, 1949.

The original BCPA route was Sydney - Auckland - Fiji - Canton Island - Hawaii - San Francisco - Vancouver and later included Melbourne. Initially, BCPA chartered all flights to Australian National Airways which used its Douglas DC-4s. The inaugural flight departed from Sydney on September 15, 1946.

In late 1948 BCPA took delivery of the first of four Douglas DC-6 aircraft, outfitted as Pullman-type sleepers. Each aircraft was named after one of the four sailing vessels of used by Captain James Cook - 'Resolution', 'Discovery', 'Adventure' and 'Endeavour'.

The airline had ordered six de Havilland Comet jet airliners in 1952 for delivery in 1954. In 1953 it had agreed to buy three Comet IIs for delivery at the end of 1956 and retain two of the DC-6s for tourist-class carriage.

In October 1953 discussions were held by the three governments to allow the airline to be taken over by Qantas Empire Airways. In 1954 it was announced that Qantas Empire Airways would take over the BCPA services between Australia and North America and it would also take over the order for three Comets. The remaining Douglas DC-6 aircraft were transferred to Tasman Empire Airways Ltd (TEAL), New Zealand.

The proposed Qantas order for the de Havilland Comet did not proceed.