BEA in the Channel Islands

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BEA in the
Channel Islands


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A BEA Rapide at Jersey Airport in 1947


On 1 August 1946 the independent British scheduled airlines were nationalised, including Jersey Airways, which had been the main carrier operating before the Occupation and since from the island's new airport

BEA Rapide over the south-east corner of Jersey heading for Dinard

BEA became the British European Airways Corporation to operate all Domestic and European flights. Initially it operated De Havilland Rapides on services to Southampton and London, but from the early days they struggled to cope with the enormous variations in demand between the winter and summer months. They demanded lengthened runways and then a tarmac surface was laid in 1952 so that larger aircraft could be operated to meet peak demand.

This process was continue over the coming decades as British European introduced the Airspeed Ambassador (Elizabethan), Viscount, Vanguard and ultimately the BAC One-Eleven jet. Initially the timetable grew, and routes were introduced to Croydon and then Northolt, to serve London, followed ultimately by Gatwick and Heathrow. Direct flights were made available to Birmingham, Southampton, Manchester, Guernsey, Alderney and France. The Paris route, however, was abandoned in 1950 because of lack of demand.

BEA ceased operations in 1974 when it was merged with the British Overseas Airways Corporation to form British Airways, which continued to operate from Jersey. There was further expansion of routes, but the airline was struggling to make them financially successful, and in August 1979 they announced that they were pulling out of all but the major routes, with the others taken up by a variety of independent airlines.

BEA plans for 1948

From Flight, 22 January 1948

BEA have already made plans for high-frequency air services next summer to the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. All these will operate with Dakota aircraft except the service to Alderney and the inter-island flights between Jersey and Guernsey which will continue to be flown with Rapides.

Summer schedules

The new summer schedules, which are due to come into operation on 18 April, have been drawn up as a result of the experience of last summer's capacity bookings, especially at weekends.

A daily, non-stop service is being introduced between Northolt and the Isle of Man, taking just under two hours. Manchester, Glasgow and Blackpool will be linked to the island by two daily flights each way and Belfast and Carlisle by one; from Liverpool there will be four to seven daily flights each way according to the season and the day of the week.

Between 18 April and 30 May Channel Island visitors will have five daily services between Northolt and Jersey at weekends and four in midweek. From 31 May these will be increased to nine at weekends and seven on weekdays.

From 18 April there will also be two return flights daily between London and Guernsey; from Southampton Jersey has two, Guernsey three and Alderney two. A total of 14 to 16 flights daily link the three main Channel Islands and this inter-island service will operate at high frequency between Jersey and Guernsey.

Capt Tony Ayris with a Rapide in the 1970s
A 2019 Airbus in historic BEA livery
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