Out and about with…the FAA

August 25, 2016

Founded in 1946, the FAA is the world’s oldest association of its kind. It was born out of a need to protect the interests of foreign carriers in the UK from foreign currency rates to landing charges, facilities and logistics.

At the time of its formation, World War II had just ended. London Heathrow was a large bleak and muddy field with an eclectic collection of temporary buildings and wet tents accessed by duck boards. The depressing conditions were accentuated that winter – one of the most bitterly cold of all times.

There was austerity and food rationing. The prospect of FAA lunches in a restaurant or hotel was the initial reason, one cynic remarked, for the FAA’s instant popularity and rapid growth; it helped eke out frugal rations.

Different airline members presided at each of the then monthly lunches and were responsible for the menu selected. This inevitably led to healthy competition, with members trying to outdo each other by importing various national specialties seen only rarely (or not at all) in the UK. American Overseas Airlines (predecessor of Pan Am) flew in steaks, as did Aerolineas Argentinas. United donated fresh pineapples to promote their Hawaiian routes, whilst Air India brought along a large variety of assorted Indian cuisines. The FAA offered the best meal in town… And only to its privileged members!

Today the FAA offers members the opportunity to meet likeminded airline representatives in a non-competitive environment to promote their airline, discuss matters of mutual interest and share expertise and best practice.

Guest speakers have ranged from cabinet ministers and leading politicians to ambassadors and even royalty, with leading industry figures regularly sharing their expertise too.

Colin Stewart, FAA chairman of three years, commented: “This is an important milestone for the FAA which emerged from a bleak post-war London 70 years ago, gave a voice to foreign airlines in the UK and through the last seven decades has continued to provide members with the all-important opportunity to share ideas, views, recommendations, challenges or concerns in a friendly environment, helping them find practical and tested solutions among a support network of skilled and likeminded peers. We look forward to welcoming new members over the next 70 years and beyond!”

Pictured L-R past and present chairs: Barry Prior, 1998-99; Jan Smit, 1983-84; Cathy Matos, 2006-7; Colin Stewart, current chairman; Sandra Bloodworth, 2008-9; Chris Gilber, 2001-2; John Varley, 1996-7