Compagnie (Cie) Air Transport

Operated from c.Apr 1948 to c.Apr 1973

Country of Origin – France

Founders/Directors – Unknown

While a good deal is known about the core operations of this airline, its foundation and its corporate evolution remains something of an enigma, even to this very day. As far as its foundation was concerned, it would appear that CAT began life during the spring of 1948 operating Bristol 170 aircraft within France and across the Channel to the UK, the latter allegedly in association with Silver City. While commercial flights to the UK would mostly be confined to Silver City’s ever shifting bases on the South Coast of England, its aircraft would sometimes turn up for maintenance at Southend with ATEL 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.

Certain sources seem to suggest that in 1953, CAT and Air Algerie merged to become Compagnie Nationale Transport Aerien, although whether CAT continued to operate under its own name, or emerged several years later as an entirely separate entity is unknown. Whatever the case may be, the Cie Air Transport that existed during the mid to late ’50s retained close ties with Silver City and would continue to support their operations from Le Touquet to the UK. By 1961, this airline had 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 Bristol Superfreighters on long term lease. These aircraft were then used to fly occasional services between Calais and Southend and Le Touquet and Lydd and 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 Bristol Superfreighters continued to frequent SEN where they would also receive overhauls/maintenance. In June 1965, Cie’s aircraft also delivered a number of Sud-Ouest Djinns to Southend. It was possible that these helicopters were for Ladi Marmol, although this remains unconfirmed. Eventually, and in much the same way that British United Air Ferries had decided to abandon 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 from where they would operate with 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-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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