Flying Start, British Airways global charity partnership with Comic Relief, is celebrating raising £20 million.

This partnership, the first to work with Comic Relief to raise money all year round, began in 2010 with a goal to raise £20 million by the end of 2020 and has achieved hitting the monumental target two years early.

British Airways employees and customers were treated to a celebratory flight to say thank you to the dedicated fundraisers and generous customers who have helped hit the fundraising target.

Russell Kane, Joel Dommett and Rob Beckett took their comedy to new heights when they performed a special Flying Start Gig in the Sky.

​The trio entertained 140 guests during a special hour-long flight on an Airbus A320 to celebrate reaching the fundraising goal.

The comics rose to the challenge with an aviation-themed performance that had the audience roaring in the aisle.

Alex Cruz, British Airways CEO and Chairman, said: “I’m delighted that we’ve hit this wonderful milestone and what a better way to celebrate raising money for Comic Relief than with a comedy gig in the sky? The sum raised is testament to the generosity of our customers, the hard work of our Flying Start Team and everyone that supports this work. I want to say a heartfelt thank you to everyone involved – let’s keep going!”

© Image British Airways

Speaking after the performance, Russell Kane who hosted the gig said: “I’ve performed in many unusual venues but never at 38,000 feet! There was an amazing atmosphere with lots of laughs on board. What a great way to celebrate Flying Start raising £20 million for Comic Relief”

Flying Start by numbers

4 – Guinness World Records broken over the years including ‘Highest Concert’, ‘Highest Comedy Gig’, ‘Highest Harlem Shake’ and ‘Most countries cycled in 24 hours’

43,000 ft – The world’s highest concert with Tony Hadley and Kim Wilde on a Boeing 767 in 2013

15,000 – Calories burned by BA pilots cycling through seven countries in 24 hours

20 per cent – increase in on board donations after the launch of the new safety video in 2017

5000 – Number of BA employees who have fundraised for Flying Start

£314,000 – Customer contributions from onboard collections in a single month

628,190 – The number of children and young people in the UK and overseas who have benefitted from the donations

© Image British Airways


Through Comic Relief, Flying Start has been able to support tens of thousands of children in projects across the world. 50 per cent of the money is spent helping communities in the UK and 50 per cent overseas. Just a few of the organisations funded by Comic Relief grants include:

Depaul UK – An organisation that supports young people into independent living by providing accommodation and a range of other services to young homeless people

Street League Academy – A programme using sports as a hook to engage young unemployed people in Manchester, supporting them to gain the vital skills, knowledge and confidence required to gain sustained employment and look forward to a financially independent future.

Mothers 2 Mothers – an international organisation empowering mothers with HIV to bring hope to other mothers by providing comprehensive, family centred care, paediatric HIV, nutrition and family planning among other services.

Since partnering with British Airways, other projects supported by Comic Relief include; The Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund in Cape Town, the Railway Children charity in India, Magic Bus in Delhi, Fight for Peace in Rio de Janiero, The Pendekezo Letu in Kenya, Project Y.E.S.S in London, the Bolton Lads and Girls club, D2 Youth Zone’s in Newcastle and North United Communities project in Scotland.