At one time in 1921, British airlines temporarily closed their services, as British aerodrome facilities paid for by the British taxpayer, were being used solely by foreign airlines, themselves being subsidised again by their own governments!
Imperial Airways was formed on 1 April 1924 out of Handley Page Transport, The Instone Airline, Daimler Airway (from AT&T), and British Marine Air Navigation.
It was a nationalised company set up as the individual companies could not financilly compete with the new state heavily susidised airlines of France, Holland and Belgium.
In 1936, the original British Airways was formed by the government operating a different route structure to Imperial. Both of them were merged into BOAC in 1939, and formal operations in that name started on 1 April 1940.
BOAC operated passenger services throughout WW2 to Africa, the Middle and Far East, on to Australia, flying via neutral Lisbon, together with many support flights for the Royal Air Force, including the extremely dangerous flights on the 'ball-bearing runs' to Sweden, assisted by unarmed Mosquito fighter-bombers as part of the BOAC strength. In wartime 1941, regular tranatlantic services were started by BOAC using three Boeing 314 flying boats. At the end of the war, 83 of it's comrades had died on flying duties, aircraft had carried 280,000 passengers on government service, together with nearly 50 million pounds of cargo and mail. The BA aircraft had flown 57 million miles on a route network that at war end spanned 54,000 miles.
In 1946, BOAC had two offspring, the first being British European Airways, and the other being British South American Airways. After the war, BOAC's most modern arcraft were operating on the Atlantic, and interestingly, on 1 July 1946, BA started Constellation 049 services between Heathrow and New York (La Guardia)!
The rest is history, BEA and BOAC were merged in the early 70's into British Airways in 1974, and BA was privatised in 1987.
Per Ardua ad Astra! ........ Honi Soit Qui Mal y Pense!