Aztec G-BBFW

Operated from Feb 1974 to May 1977

Founder/Director – Unknown

Commutair (also known as Southend Air Charter) began life at Southend in February 1974 and would rapidly go on to become one of the airport’s busiest services of its kind. Rather than operating mostly ad-hoc charters to demand like many of the other Southend based taxi services of the time, Commutair would operate what was more or less akin to scheduled services, which would regularly cross the Channel to such destinations as Ostend and Rotterdam despite direct competition from the likes of BAF who were still flying competitive services with their Carvairs and later, their Herald airliners.

This company flew Aztecs only and while their main remit was to offer taxi services, it was not unknown for them to engage in pleasure flying too, although such operations were few and far between and as such, usually confined to events or air shows. By 1975, the Aztecs were flying daily services to Rotterdam while Amsterdam, Ostend and the Channel Islands would also receive regular visits. Such was the success of these services that this company even went as far as leasing another Baron (G-BAUI) during the early spring of 1975. Other work included nightly flights to Rotterdam to collect customs paperwork on behalf of TEI who would then present it to UK Customs & Excise.

Other, longer distance charters would also be undertaken to destinations such as Dublin, Dusseldorf, Gerona, Hamburg, Hannover and Stavanger with operations continuing well into 1976. However by late spring, services had begun to drop off and some of the aircraft were sent back to their lessors including G-ASND which as the oldest aircraft in the fleet, had not seen much in the way of service anyway, although she did make a couple of trips to Le Mans and Hamburg during 1975. However, by early 1977 it was all over and in May 1977 the company was finally wound up although its TEI contract ended up being taken over by Central Flying Services lieu of outstanding maintenance debts.


Commutair/Southend Air Charter fleet from 1974 to 1977

Piper PA-23 Aztec

G-ASND – 10/74 to 4/76

Leased from KHM Aviation

G-AWXW – 8/74 to ?/??

Leased from M Darlington Ltd

G-BBFW – 2/74 to 10/74

Leased from Spooner Aviation

G-BCBM – 12/74 to 5/77

Sold to Edinburgh Flying Services

G-BCHR – 6/74 to 9/76

Leased from Holbay Racing

G-BAUI – 2/75 to 4/75

Leased from Measurex International

With thanks to Nigel Stockwell for providing some of the details above.


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