African Air Safaris

AAS G-AHOW

Based at Southend from Apr 1958 to Nov 1959

Founder/Director – Successor to Meredith Air Transport

By November 1954, Southend based Meredith Air Transport had become an airline in name only by virtue of it having sold or transferred its aeronautical assets into the hands of others in lieu of debts owed. As such, the MAT management board looked to re-launching the airline and in the same month the African Air Safaris name was born. However, it wasn’t until May 1956 that equipment was finally procured, this taking the form of H.P Hermes G-ALDM. From the outset, the intention was to put this aircraft to work on a number of European routes to South Africa, although the aircraft was ultimately considered to be unsuitable for such purposes and as a consequence, did little to no work for the airline before being passed to Britavia who leased this aircraft until the end of 1959.

Thus, it would initially fall to a single Viking to carry the airline name with G-AHOR eventually arriving at Southend in April 1958. Having already purchased larger DC-4 equipment, associate airline Trek Airways passed this Viking on to AAS and by July of the same year fellow Trek stable mate and former Meredith Air Transport Viking G-AHOW had also joined the company while maintenance would be provided by B.K.S. The Vikings were then put to work operating the Trek routes between Southend and Johannesburg while during 1958 and 1959, a good number of ad-hoc charters would be flown from Gatwick, Stansted and Southend to numerous destinations on the Continent too.

However in November 1959, African Air Safaris took the decision to move their centre of operations from Southend to Gatwick where the airline fleet would rapidly expand to include around 15 aircraft at its peak, a good number of these comprising of much larger Handley Page Hermes airliners. Air Safaris (as it was now known) continued to operate for another year or so, but it too would eventually be caught up in the late-50s and early-60s mass cull of numerous independent airlines that had too little work to sustain them and by January 1962 it was all over. The airline subsequently collapsed with more than £1/2 million in debts.

Many thanks to Chris Garton for his help in providing suggestions for edits to this page.

 

African Air Safaris fleet from 1958 to 1959

G-AHOR – 4/58 to 5/60

DBR Tarbes, France 5/60

G-AHOW – 7/58 to 1/62

Eventually leased to Eros Airways 5/62 and then sold 1/63

 

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