British United Airways

Based at Southend from Jul 1960 to Sep 1967

Founders/Directors – Mr. M.D.M. Watt and Mr. F. Laker

During the 1960s, British United Airways grew to become a veritable behemoth of the British aviation industry and was for almost a decade, BUA G-AOXKthe largest independent airline that the U.K. had ever seen. This airline initially came about as the result of a merger between Airwork and Hunting Clan although it would also absorb a large number of other independents such as Morton Air Services, Olley Air Services, Bristow Helicopters, Silver City Airways, Transair and of course, through the Airwork wing of the company came two Southend airlines, namely Air Charter and Channel Air Bridge. In fact, by the early 1960s its aircraft were flying to almost every corner of the planet.

While many aviation enthusiasts quite naturally equate BUA’s relationship with SEN through its ownership of Channel Air Bridge which on January 1st 1963 merged with Silver City to become British United Air Ferries, BUA would still operate a good many flights from Southend during the early ’60s under its own banner. Most of these services were flown by three former Air Charter DC-4/C-54s, all of which had been refinished in BUA’s livery by early 1961 plus a sole BUA owned aircraft. Invariably, G-AOXK, G-APNH and G-AOFW were all put to work making short hops across the Channel to Calais, Ostend and Rotterdam their main task being to increase the number of passengers that could be carried on these routes in tandem with CAB’s and later BUAF’s car and freight carrying Bristol Freighters. That being said, Viscounts would on occasion stand in for the C-54s with G-AOXU & G-AOXV flying the Ostend services on April 23rd 1962. BUA’s two DC-6 aircraft would also become a regular sight at SEN although they would operate for the most part from the larger London airports.

Needless to say, when the need arose BUA would occasionally lease other aircraft and between January and March 1961, they leased C-54 G-APID for no other reason that to carry out a cargo charter commitment to the Far East. However, India Delta or ‘Rapid Gapid’ (as she was more endearingly known) was considered to be something of a bag of bolts with a tech log full of snags and a tendency to go u/s on a regular basis which ended up causing more than a few headaches, even for the highly experienced ATEL engineering team. Come the day of the flight east, she was to be loaded with rather heavy equipment and thus the engineers and loaders were compelled to come up with a way of loading her without tipping her onto her tail as Peter Clark relates below…

“It was decided that due to the weight (which was around 5-6 tons) the normal tail post would not be man enough for the job, so it was replaced, in this instance using an aircraft wing jack with a piece of heavy timber placed between the jack and the tail bumper. Unfortunately, it was not secured in any way and was only held in place by the pressure of the jack on the bumper. The forklift placed the piece of machinery on the sill of the rear cargo door then tried to push it into the fuselage, but instead pushed the aircraft off of the wing jack causing the aircraft to rear up which then resulted in the jack being forced up through the rear fuselage and out between the fin and the port horizontal stabiliser. In the end repairs were effected at considerable cost and the cargo was later delivered to its destination by another ex-ACL airframe.”

Meanwhile, former Air Charter flights would continue to be operated by the C-54 aircraft on the Ministry of Supply/Aircraft contracts between Southend and Australia, carrying such items as GAF Jindivik drones. G-ANYB would initially maintain these charters until being replaced by G-APNH during late October 1960. Another familiar aircraft also became a regular sight at Southend with G-AREK arriving during August. The intention was to put her to work flying the cross-Channel routes, however she would never enter service with BUA and was instead handed over to ATEL for conversion to a Carvair. However, by the end of 1963, BUA services from SEN had ceased as the C-54s had mostly been converted to Carvairs or in the case of G-AOXK, had been withdrawn from service. Thus, operations from Southend would for the most carry on under the guise of BUAF although a number of Carvairs would later carry the sandstone and blue livery of BUA.

However, BUA would continue to make good use of its Southend engineering and refinishing facilities with many of its propliners turning up at the airport between 1961 & 1967 after which Air Holdings split BUA and BAF/ATEL into two separate concerns. From this point on, the BUA part of the company would in effect have little more to do with SEN and instead continued to operate from Gatwick until November 1970 when it was finally purchased by what would later become British Caledonian. Meanwhile, the BAF part of the company would later be acquired by Transmeridian’s Thomas ‘Mike’ Keegan during October 1971 although ATEL would continue as a company in its own right until 1976 when it was purchased by Aer Lingus who closed the facility at Southend and moved its engineering base to Stansted.

Many thanks to Chris Garton and Peter Clark for help with this page.


British United Airways Fleet from 1960 to 1967

(Only aircraft that were likely to have visited SEN are listed below)

Douglas C-47/DC-3

G-AKNB – 1/62 to 2/68

Sold to Ulster Air Transport

G-ALPN – 1/62 to 11/68

Sold to British United Island Airways

G-AMHJ – 5/61 to 7/62

TFR to Morton Air Services

G-AMYJ – 8/63 to 11/65

TFR to Morton Air Services

G-AMPZ – 7/60 to 11/62

Sold to Pan-American Indonesian Oil Company

G-ANAE – 1/62 to 1/68

Sold Brothers Air Service as VR-ABH

G-ANTB – 8/63 to 4/65

Crashed and DBR on approach to Jersey 14/4/65

G-AOBN – 11/62 to 7/70

Sold to British Island Airways

Douglas C-54/DC-4

G-ANYB – 7/60 to 7/61

Converted to ATL.98 Carvair

G-AOFW – 7/60 to 4/63

Converted to ATL.98 Carvair

G-AOXK – 7/60 to 7/63

Sold to Williamson Diamond Mines (through ATL) as 5H-AAH

G-APID – 1/61 to 3/61

Leased from Trans World Leasing

G-APNH – 7/60 to 2/63

Converted to ATL.98 Carvair

(For Carvair conversions, see the individual histories and the BUAF page)

Douglas DC-6

G-APNO – 7/60 to 12/65

TFR to Air Ferry

G-APNP – 7/60 to 12/65

TFR to Air Ferry

G-ARXZ – 3/62 to 9/64

Leased from Canadian Pacific

Bristol Britannia

G-ANCD – 7/60 to 1/69

Sold to Lloyd International Airways

G-ANCE – 7/60 to 2/69

Sold to Lloyd International Airways

G-ANCH – 6/65 to 10/66

Leased from Ghana Airways

G-AOVA – 2/64 to 4/64

Leased from British Eagle Airways

G-AOVE – 9/61 to 4/64

Leased from BOAC

G-APNA – 7/60 to 10/67

Sold to Donaldson International

G-APNB – 7/60 to 10/67

Sold to Donaldson International

G-ARWZ – 3/62 to 3/65

Sub-leased from Bristol Aircraft

G-ARXA – 3/62 to 9/64

Sub-leased from Bristol Aircraft

G-ASFU – 3/63 to 4/63

Leased from El-Al

G-ASFV – 3/63 to 4/63

Leased from El-Al

Handley Page Herald

G-ASBP – 11/62 to 3/66

VIP aircraft – Sold to Air Manila as PI-C869

Vickers 700 Viscount

G-AODG – 7/60 to 1/67

Sold to British Midland

G-ARBY – 4/62 to 10/66

Sold to Air Inter as F-BOEC

G-ARER – 4/62 to 6/66

Sold to Air Inter as F-BOEA

G-ARGR – 4/63 to 9/66

Sold to Air Inter as G-BOEB

Vickers 800/810 Viscount

G-AOXU – 7/60 to 12/62

Sold to LOT Polish Airlines as SP-LVC

G-AOXV – 7/60 to 11/62

Sold to LOT Polish Airlines SP-LVA

G-APKG – 7/60 to 11/62

Sold to LOT Polish Airlines as SP-LVB

G-APND – 7/60 to 1/69

Sold to British Midland

G-APNE – 7/60 to 4/67

Sold to British Midland

G-APTB – 7/60 to 12/69

Sold to ARKIA as 4X-AVB

G-APTC – 7/60 to 10/69

Sold to ARKIA as 4X-AVC

G-APTD – 7/60 to 4/69

Sold to British Midland

G-ASED – 12/62 to 2/67

Sold to British Midland

BAC 1-11

G-ASJA – 10/65 to 10/69

Ret to BAC as G-52-1

G-ASJC – 11/65 to 11/70

TFR to BUA/Caledonian

G-ASJD – 8/65 to 11/70

TFR to BUA/Caledonian

G-ASJE – 7/65 to 11/70

TFR to BUA/Caledonian

G-ASJF – 5/65 to 11/70

TFR to BUA/Caledonian

G-ASJG – 7/65 to 11/70

TFR to BUA/Caledonian

G-ASJH – 4/65 to 11/70

TFR to BUA/Caledonian

G-ASJI – 4/65 to 11/70

TFR to BUA/Caledonian

G-ASJJ – 4/65 to 1/69

Written off nr Milan 14/1/69

G-ASTJ – 11/65 to 11/70

TFR to BUA/Caledonian


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Many thanks from the SAAD Admin Team.