THE FLEET

Purser's Office

Cunard Eagle Airways

Nevertheless, the first Cunard Eagle Airways 707-465 (registered Bermuda as VR-BBW)was delivered on February 27, 1962, and flown to Tucson for crew training.

Denied the London to New York route, Cunard Eagle's first 707 was used initially from March 27 on an ad hoc basis to supplement Vickers Viscounts on the Bermuda - New York shuttle - marking the first operation of a jet liner by a British independent airline. But on May 5, with an airplane under the command of Capt. G. Henderson, Cunard Eagle Airways made a triumphant 'back-door' entry onto the North Atlantic with an inaugural flight from London to Miami, then onto Nassau, Bahamas, via Kindley Field, Bermuda. The distance of 3,454.5 mi. (5,559km)between London and Bermuda was covered at an average speed of 498.9 mph (801kph) and set a point to point record.

BOAC reacted swiftly and mercilessly. The day after Cunard Eagle's first Atlantic service, it announced the formation of subsidiary BOAC-CUNARD, in which Cunard Steamship held a 30% interest. Starting June 24, all scheduled passenger, freight and charter services between the UK, the eastern seaboard of the US, Bermuda, the Bahamas and the Caribbean would be operated on behalf of BOAC-CUNARD. Three more Boeing 707-436s were ordered (G-ARRA, 'RB and RC').

The last of these, "Romeo-Charlie", first flew from Renton on March 4, 1963. A ferry crew, led by Capt. G H (Gerry) Easton arrived in Seattle, having flown from London on BOAC's San Francisco service. After a single, customer's test flight, acceptance and payment formalities for a Conway-powered 707 were completed by a British customer for the 20th time (18 Dash 436s to BOAC and BOAC - Cunard, plus two Dash 465s for Cunard Eagle), and on March 15/ 16 Easton and his crew flew the 707, operating as Speedbird 4019, nonstop to London. One of the two engineers on this flight, Eric Draper, had also crewed delivery flights of BOAC's Boeing 314 Flying Boats, as well as Stratocruisers.

BOAC Cunard's first service departed from London on Sunday, June 24, bound for Bermuda, via Manchester, Glasgow and New York. The BOAC operated 707 left Heathrow with only 38 passengers. Until the relevant route licenses were transferred to the new entity, the 707s remained in either BOAC or Cunard Eagle colours; BOAC - CUNARD titles were then ordered. As Cunard Eagle was effectively dissolved it's second 707 went directly to BOAC - Cunard.

At the end of September, Cunard Eagle's sole Bermudan registered 707 was transferred to BOAC - Cunard. Since delivery, the aircraft had flown 1,569 hours, of which 350 were training, 158 on service between Bermuda and New York, and 1,062 on the London - Miami route. During the last month of operation, the 707 flew 8.6hr/day. On the London - Bermuda - Miami - Kingston service all but one of the 54 scheduled round trips were operated (one was canceled after the 707 was struck by a ground vehicle); 83 of the 106 departures were on time, for a punctuality rate of 78.3%

BOAC - Cunard's renowned passenger services, operated by 707s and later BAC (Vickers) Super VC-10s, continued plying the North Atlantic until 1966. The end of the airline/ shipping line union came on September 16, with a joint announcement that BOAC had agreed to acquire - with cash - Cunard's 30% share of the joint operation, and that the BOAC - Cunard titles would disappear from the airplanes, sales offices and time tables as soon as practicable.