Apr 1 2012: Eleven Postcards Showing Airlines And Aircraft Of The World (1960s – 1980s)

Until the sell-offs of national aviation companies during the 1980s, such as the wholesale privatisation of BA in the UK and the contracting out of such infrastructures as Air Traffic Control and baggage handling in the US (the latter had rather more to do with facilitating the 9/11 attacks than apologists for cost-cutting privatisation have generally wished to acknowledge), it’s fair to say that aviation was considered an industry of national importance, and countries’ airlines were as much statements of national identity and progress as they were commercial entities dedicated to transporting passengers from one city to another. This set of postcards takes a snapshot of a variety of aircraft in service during the 70s and 80s, with the height of this political deployment of aerospace technology being Concorde, seen here in both its Air France and British Airways liveries. When first put into service in the early 1970s, this sole design appeared to be the future made tangible: as I type this, less than forty years on, no Concorde aircraft remain in service, even on the luxury transatlantic routes that became their only potentially economically viable option. Not that anyone could have predicted, when these postards were published, that it would be the descendants of Freddie Laker’s no-frills flying rather than further iterations of the hi-tech supersonic vision of Concorde that would point the way forward for the industry.

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