Dan Air

Based at Southend from May 1953 to Jan 1955

Founders/Directors – Mr. J.W. Davies, Mr. F.E.F. Newman and Mr. E.O. Wallis

Having a name that was synonymous with charter air travel from the 1950s until the early 1990s when it was finally snapped up by British Airways for the nominal sum of £1; this huge corporation formerly known as Dan-Air started out from rather humble beginnings flying charter and freight flights from Southend with a single C-47. The airline was initially conceived at the airport in May 1953, its logo a conglomeration of the first letters of the owners names, namely Davies and Newton. However, due to their choice of red and white as livery colours, a certain level of confusion began to arise about the airline’s origins and thus to distance itself from what many believed were Danish roots, the word ‘London’ was added to the name.

Dan-Air’s first C-47 G-AMSU was transferred from Meredith Air Transport (another small, Southend based airline) in lieu of debts owed to the Davies-Newman partnership who had previously acted as this airline’s brokers. Its very first flight involved taking passengers from Southend to Manchester via Shannon while regular flights to Corsica were added later during the month. Business began to boom thanks to having lots of charter work on its books which mostly involved the transport ship parts and marine crews around Europe and by the mid-1953, Dan-Air had carried almost 4,250 passengers and had completed almost 109,000 revenue ton-miles. As such, it wasn’t long before another C-47 in the form of G-AMSS was added to the fleet.

In July 1954, Dan-Air purchased larger equipment in the form of three Avro York freighters and as operations began to expand, Southend was almost immediately deemed as being too small to get fully fuelled and fully laden Yorks in and out of the airport safely and thus they were stored at Lasham until such time that the airline had completed its relocation to Blackbushe. With Meredith’s former engineering facility at Southend also being considered unsuitable, the airline moved its maintenance base to Lasham. However, flights with the C-47s would continue from Southend until the end of the charter season in 1955 when Dan-Air’s relationship with SEN finally come to an end.

However, this was not to be the last time that Dan-Air would operate from Southend. With the exception of a number of diversions that would on occasion land at SEN when most other airports were fogged in, notable visits included Dan-Air Airspeed Ambassador G-AMAH making several trips to the airport in July 1960 as a replacement for Sabena’s Douglas DC-3 that was at the time flying the Southend – Ostend route while the year 1966 also saw a bevy of charters to Lourdes with five Ambassadors namely G-ALFR, ZN, ZO, ZY & G-AMAH arriving from Gatwick on April 2nd and returning again with the faithful on the following day. Going into the ’70 & ’80s, a small number of other flights would also be flown including one that was sub-chartered by BAF during the last week of August 1983 this witnessing the arrival H.S.748 G-ATMI to operate it.


Dan-Air fleet while based at SEN

Douglas DC-3/C-47 Dakota

G-AMSS – 2/54 to 11/68

Sold to The Air Taxi Company as EP-AIQ

G-AMSU – 6/53 to 3/68

WFU at Lasham 2/69 – B/U 10/70

Avro 685 York

G-ANTI – 7/54 to 5/63

WFU at Lasham 1/62 – B/U 5/63

G-ANTJ – 7/54 to 11/62

WFU at Lasham 11/62 – B/U 12/62

G-ANTK – 7/54 to 4/64

WFU at Lasham 4/64 – Preserved at Duxford as ‘MW100’


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