Compagnie (Cie) Air Transport

Operated from c.1949 to c.Apr 1973

Country of Origin – France

Founders/Directors – Unknown

Compagnie (Cie) Air Transport actually began life during 1946 as Societe Commerciale Aerienne du Littoral (SCAL) which was initially set up as a wing of British airline Silver City Airways. At the time, French legislation prevented foreign airlines from basing themselves on French soil and thus this separate concern was set up so that it could operate freely within the scope of the country’s aviation laws. With Silver City’s cross-Channel vehicle ferry charters having already become something of a success between Le Touquet and Lympne, a pair of Bristol 170s were dispatched across the Channel where they would be placed on the French register and by the summer of 1947, they had commenced operations under the SCAL name, although one of these B170s would be lost at sea just a few months later.

As far as the airline’s subsequent relaunch was concerned, there is some confusion as to when this name was actually taken up with one source stating the spring of 1948 while another suggests February 1949. Either way, the company continued to operate Bristol 170 aircraft within France itself and across the Channel to the UK, often in association with Silver City. While these early commercial flights to the UK would be primarily confined to Silver City’s ever shifting bases on the south coast of England, its aircraft would sometimes turn up for maintenance with ATEL at Southend who were not only manufacturing a good number of centre wing sections for these aircraft at the time but by virtue of their engineering prowess, had become rather familiar with the type too.

Throughout the 1950s, Cie Air Transport retained its ties with Silver City and would continue to support operations from Le Touquet to the UK. (It is worth noting at this point that this Cie Air Transport should not be confused with the former Air France subsidiary of the same name, which merged with CGTA in 1953 and then later went on to become Air Algerie). By 1961, this airline had even entered into an agreement with Silver City whereby CAT would fund a rail link from Le Touquet to the French main line while in return, Silver City would provide the airline with three Superfreighters on a long-term lease. These aircraft were then used to fly occasional services between Calais and Southend and Le Touquet and Lydd. Indeed, by 1964 CAT had also become the official French ticketing agent for BUAF flights to Lydd, Southend and a number of other BUA destinations.

Throughout the 1960s, CAT’s Superfreighters continued to visit SEN where they would also receive overhauls and maintenance. In June 1965, Cie’s aircraft delivered a number of Sud-Ouest Djinns to Southend possibly for Ladi Marmol, although this remains unconfirmed. Eventually, and in much the same way that British United had abandoned B170 operations in favour of Carvairs, by the end of the 1960s Cie Air Transport had likewise followed suit and by the turn of the decade, its fleet was solely comprised of this type too. These aircraft would generally be employed on island routes such as Nimes to Ajaccio, Calvi, Ibiza and Palma and Perpignon to Palma. Quite naturally, this would lead to Cie once again developing its relationship with SEN as their Carvairs came and went from the airport, either for painting, maintenance or in the case of two of the type, returning to SEN where they would join BAF.


Cie Air Transport fleet from 1948 to 1973

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

Bristol 170 Freighter

F-BCJM – 7/47 to 5/57

(SCAL) Sold to Shackleton Aviation as G-AILW

F-BCJN – 7/47 to 10/47

(SCAL) Crashed into sea off Cartagena, Spain 16/10/47

F-BECT*– 12/48 to 4/52

Sold to Silver City as G-AIMH

F-BENC*– 8/48 to 1/52

Sold to Air Vietnam as VH-AAH

F-BEND – 5/48 to 10/51

Sold to Silver City as G-AIFM

F-BENF – 4/48 to 7/50

Crashed near Timbuktu 28/7/50

F-BENH – 5/48 to 3/51

Sold to Silver City as G-AHJP

F-BHVB*– 2/57 to 11/58

Crashed while landing at Le Touquet 4/11/58

Bristol 170 Superfreighter

F-BKBD – 4/61 to 1/63

Leased from Silver City

F-BKBG – 5/61 to 11/67

WFU and B/U at Lydd, Kent 3/68

F-BKBI*– 6/61 to 1/68

Leased from Silver City

F-BLHH*– 12/62 to 6/69

Leased from Silver City – DBR at Le Touquet 11/6/69

F-BPIM*– 1/68 to 11/69

Leased from BAF – WFU and B/U Lydd, Kent 10/70

F-BPIN*– 3/68 to 4/69

Leased from BAF – WFU and B/U Lydd, Kent 8/70

ATL.98 Carvair

F-BMHU*– 6/65 to 3/67

Crashed in Karachi, Pakistan 8/3/67

F-BHMV*– 5/65 to 2/73

Sold to BAF as G-AREK

F-BOSU*– 5/67 to 8/70

WFU and B/U at Nimes-Garons, France 11/72

F-BRPT*– 3/69 to 3/73

Sold to BAF as G-ASKG


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