Big birthdays in 2024

20 May 2024 by Mark Caswell
Happy birthday contrail (istock.com/cosmin4000)

This year sees a raft of travel sector companies celebrating landmark anniversaries, including several UK firms.

Here’s our round-up of some of the significant birthdays in 2024 – please do let us know in the comments section if we have forgotten any.

Of course the big one is still to come – Business Traveller was founded in 1976 and will celebrate its 50th birthday in 2026 (as will, ahem, this writer…).

Aberdeen International Airport - 90

Aberdeen International airport 90th anniversary (provided by AGS Airports)

Aberdeen International was officially opened by Lord Arbuthnott in July 1934, and founded by Eric Gander Dower – dubbed the ‘Father of Aberdeen Airport’ in press cuttings.

There will be several celebrations throughout the year to mark the airport’s ‘Granite Anniversary’ – which just so happens to also nod to Aberdeen’s moniker as the Granite City.

A special 90th logo has also been commissioned for use throughout the year, and stories shared by the public will be used for a project later in the year.


The Ascott Limited - 40

Citadines Islington London (image supplied by The Ascott - © Matthew Shaw)

Ascott opened its first serviced residence in Singapore in 1984, and has since grown to around 950 properties across more than 220 cities.

Recent additons include the refurbished and reflagged The Robertson House by The Crest Collection, Singapore – for our Tried and Tested review of the property, click here.

To celebrate the anniversary the group has launched a year-long Ascott Unlimited initiative, covering the four pillars of Unlimited Opportunities, Unlimited Choices, Unlimited Freedom and Unlimited Good.


British Airways – 50

British Airways A380

Hang on a minute I hear you say – didn’t British Airways celebrate its centenary not so long ago?

Well, kind of – the carrier traces its history back to August 25, 1919, when Aircraft Transport and Travel Limited launched the world’s first daily international scheduled air service, between London and Paris.

But the British Airways brand was established much later on 31 March, 1974, following the merger of the British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) and British European Airways (BEA).

This year the carrier unveiled a raft of initiatives including cabin and lounge upgrades, route resumptions and free onboard messaging, as part of its £7 billion transformation plan.


Dallas Fort Worth International Airport - 50

American Airlines aircraft at Dallas Fort Worth International airport (istock.com/kameraworld)

Dallas Fort Worth International celebrated 50 years of operation earlier this year – an American Airlines flight was the first commercial service to land at the airport on 13 January, 1974.

The airport was the largest in the world when it opened as DFW Regional Airport, initially serving nine airlines across four terminals, three runways and 66 gates.

Fast forward half a century and the airport welcomed an estimated 80 million passengers in 2023, with flights operating to 256 destinations worldwide. It remains the world’s third largest airport by land area, and now has a total of seven runways and 171 gates, and a sixth terminal is set to break ground later this year.


Eurostar - 30

Eurostar's new uniform accessories (image supplied by Press.Office@eurostar.com)

There’s really two birthdays to celebrate here, as the Eurostar service would not have been possible without the Channel Tunnel, which was officially opened by Queen Elizabeth II and then French President François Mitterrand on 6 May, 1994.

The first Eurostar passenger service was subsequently launched on 14 November, 1994 between London’s Waterloo station and Paris, Brussels and Lille.

The image above is of Eurostar employees sporting new uniform accessories, following the group’s recent merger with Thalys.


Gatwick Express - 40

Gatwick Express new 387 2s

The Gatwick Express launched on 14 May, 1984, offering a 30-minute direct journey between London and Gatwick Airport. The service was extended in the 2000s to include several stops onwards from Gatwick towards Brighton.

The service was largely suspended between March 2020 and April 2022 as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, and currently operates twice per hour in both directions.



Global Hotel Alliance - 20

Sea Containers London Exterior (image provided by Hue & Cry agency)

The Global Hotel Alliance was formed in 2004 by founding members including Kempinski and Pan Pacific, and has since grown to become the world’s largest alliance of hotel brands, with more than 800 hotels across 40 brands in 100 countries.

GHA recently welcomed new member the Lore Group, which added five hotels including One Hundred Shoreditch and Sea Containers London, and last year entered into a loyalty partnership with luxury cruise line Regent Seven Seas Cruises.

Serviced apartment operator Cheval Collection is also set to join the alliance later this year.


Hampton by Hilton - 40

Hampton by Hilton Guangzhou Xintang Railway Station (image from https://stories.hilton.com)

Hampton by Hilton started life in 1984 as Hampton Inn, and was acquired by Hilton in 1999 when the group purchased the Promus Hotel Corporation.

The UK’s first Hampton by Hilton property opened in Corby in 2009, and the brand recently celebrated the milestone of 3,000 hotels.

This figure equates to around 40 per cent of Hilton’s entire portfolio and way ahead of the group’s next largest brand, Hilton Garden Inn, which has around 1,000 properties.


ibis - 50

Exterior ibis Barangaroo Image supplied by ibis

The first property under Accor’s budget ibis concept opened in Bordeaux in 1974, and the brand has since grown to more than 2,500 hotels across 79 countries, with a further 320 properties in the pipeline.

In 2012 Accor established the ibis family of brands, rebranding its All Seasons portfolio as ibis Styles and its Etap properties as ibis budget hotels.

This year the group will reopen its Gatwick airport hotel, following a full renovation programme which has seen a fifth floor added to the property, as well as an extension to the front to make space for more rooms.


Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, A Belmond Hotel - 40

Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, A Belmond Hotel (image supplied by ModusBPCM- Photography by Paul Wilkinson Photography Ltd)

Housed within a 15th century manor house in the village of Great Milton near Oxford, Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons first opened as a hotel and restaurant in 1984.

The property is owned by the Belmond hotel group (formerly known as Orient Express Hotels), and its Raymond Blanc restaurant has held two Michelin stars for 40 consecutive years.

Business Traveller last reviewed the property in 2014, highlighting its “legendary dining, top-class service and luxurious surroundings”. We are heading back this year, so stay tuned for our update. 


Mount Nelson, A Belmond Hotel - 125

Mount Nelson, A Belmond Hotel (image supplied by Petrie PR)

Cape Town’s Mount Nelson hotel opened in 1899, and was reportedly the first hotel in South Africa to offer hot and cold running water.

Affectionately known by locals as ‘The Nellie’, the hotel was painted pink in 1918, to honour peace at the end of the First World War.

The property was acquired by Orient-Express Hotels (now known as Belmond) in 1988, and Business Traveller last visited the hotel in 2014, with our reviewer highlighting its discreet service and lavish morning and afternoon teas.


oneworld - 25

Oneworld 25th anniversary celebrations (image supplied by PC Agency)

The oneworld alliance celebrated its 25th anniversary earlier this year, having been formed on 1 February, 1999 by founding members American Airlines, British Airways, Canadian Airlines (which merged into Star Alliance member Air Canada in 2001), Cathay Pacific and Qantas.

Oneworld was the second of the three major airline alliances to be established, following Star Alliance in 1997 (SkyTeam was formed in 2000).

This year the alliance has opened its first fully branded airport lounges, located within Seoul’s Incheon International airport’s Terminal 1 and the non-Schengen area of Amsterdam Schiphol Airport.


The Park Lane Hong Kong - 50

The Park Lane Hong Kong, Autograph Collection (image supplied by Golin PR)

Opened in summer 1974, The Park Lane Hong Kong is celebrating the milestone with promotions including a 50 per cent discount on room bookings between June and August 2024 for those guests who are also turning 50.

The hotel is part of a 28-storey mixed use development on Gloucester Road in Causeway Bay, with retail outlets on the ground and first floors, and features 820 rooms, an executive lounge, three dining venues and 1,700 sqm of events space.

The property is currently affiliated with Accor’s Pullman brand, but it was recently announced that the hotel will join Marriott’s Autograph Collection in 2025.


Relais & Châteaux – 70

The Chelsea Townhouse - Deluxe room with a street view 1st floor (provided by J/PR)

This luxury hotel and restaurant association was formed by husband and wife Marcel and Nelly Tilloy on 12 May, 1954, though started out under the name ‘Les Relais de Campagne’. At the start there were just eight properties in France, located in countryside locations.

By the early 1960s the association boasted 50 properties across France and began to expand beyond its borders, starting in Belgium and then moving into Germany, Spain, the UK (in 1971 with Chewton Glen), the Netherlands, Denmark, Switzerland and Italy.

In 1974 the company merged with competitor Châteaux Hôtels et Vieilles Demeures to become Relais & Châteaux. Today it has 580 hotels and restaurants in 65 countries across five continents, including 376 Michelin stars.


The Shelbourne Hotel - 200

The Shelbourne Hotel, Dublin (istock.com/ilbusca)

The Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin’s celebrates its Bicentennial anniversary this year, having opened within three adjoining townhouses overlooking St Stephen’s Green in 1824.

The hotel is named after William, 2nd Earl of Shelburne, Prime Minister of Great Britain from 1782-83, who once owned a house on the same site.

In 2019 the 265-room property – which has hosted famous guests including Charlie Chaplin, Greta Garbo, Laurel and Hardy, James Cagney, Rita Hayworth, Elizabeth Taylor, Paul Newman and Robert Redford – joined Marriott’s Autograph Collection.


The Standard - 25

The Standard Hotel, West Hollywood (istock.com/gregobagel)

The Standard Hotels was launched in 1999 with its first property in West Hollywood (which closed in 2021 amid the Covid-19 pandemic). Since then it has grown to include locations in New York, Miami, the Maldives, Hua Hin, Ibiza, Bangkok and London.

The group unveiled a new sister brand The StandardX last year – described as “the rebellious younger sibling of The Standard” – and recently outlined plans to open three European properties under The Standard brand in Brussels, Dublin and Lisbon by 2027.

For our review of The Standard, London (published in 2019), click here.


Virgin Atlantic – 40

Virgin Atlantic's Ruby Rebel icon, in honour of Sir Richard Branson

Virgin Atlantic’s inaugural flight took place on 22 June, 1984 between London and New York, and the carrier is planning a series of celebrations to mark the milestone.

This week the airline unveiled its latest A330neo aircraft, which has been named ‘Ruby Rebel’ in honour of the carrier’s founder Sir Richard Branson.

The aircraft also sports a new icon which appears towards the front of the aircraft “inspired by Sir Richard and the rebellious spirit that’s always driven Virgin Atlantic to do things differently”.


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The cover of the Business Traveller May 2024 edition
The cover of the Business Traveller May 2024 edition
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