Channel Airways

Channel Airways was a private airline formed in the United Kingdom in 1946 as East Anglian Flying Services.

The newly formed airline initially operated aerial joy rides with a single, three-seater aircraft from an airstrip on the Kent coast. Scheduled services began in 1947, following the move to Southend (Rochford) Airport earlier that year, while inclusive tour (IT) charter flights started in 1948. Rapid business growth saw seven additional aircraft join the fledgling airline's fleet by the end of that year.

The introduction of exchange controls in the early 1950s resulted in a major contraction of the travel market, in turn compelling East Anglian to cease all operations other than pleasure flying. Following a recovery in demand, aircraft and employees that had been surplus to requirements during the slump were respectively brought back into service and re-hired. By that time, the airline had also opened a second base at Ipswich Airport and obtained its first long-term scheduled service licence. That decade also saw East Anglian updating its fleet with post-war aircraft designs.

Fleet modernisation continued in the early 1960s with the addition of DC-3 and DC-4 equipment. In October 1962, East Anglian Flying Services became Channel Airways. The following year saw the acquisition of Channel's first turbine-powered aircraft.

Channel entered the jet age in June 1967 with the arrival of its first BAC One-Eleven 400 at Southend. In May 1968, Channel Airways became the first independent airline in the UK to operate the Hawker Siddeley Trident. Channel's new jets were contracted to major tour operators in the UK and West Germany from bases at Southend, London Stansted, other British airports and Berlin Tegel in what used to be West Berlin prior to German reunification. During that time, Channel moved its main operating and engineering base as well as its head office from Southend to Stansted to enable regular jet operations to more distant destinations with a full commercial payload from the latter's longer runway.

A bus stop scheduled service linking the airline's Southend base with Aberdeen via six intermediate points briefly operated in the late-1960s with modified Viscounts.

The addition of five Comet 4Bs in 1970 marked a major expansion of Channel's jet operation, making it a leading contemporary UK charter airline, with IT operations accounting for more than half of its business.

Low utilisation of the Trident fleet resulted in the type's disposal in December 1971, followed by closure of the Stansted engineering base and return of the head office to Southend. The company's deteriorating trading position and diminishing prospects led to growing financial difficulties. This forced Channel Airways to cease operations in February 1972.

Read more about Channel Airways:  Fleet Details, Accidents and Incidents, Notes and Citations

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