African Air Safaris


Based at Southend from Nov 1954 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 M.A.T. management board then sought to launch another 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 Handley Page 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 this aircraft was ultimately considered to be unsuitable for such purposes and as a consequence, Delta Mike did little to no work for the airline before being passed to Britavia who leased her until mid-1959 when she was passed on to Silver City.

Thus, it would initially fall to a single Viking to carry the airline’s banner with G-AHOR beginning operations from Southend during April 1958. Having already purchased larger DC-4 equipment, associate airline Trek Airways passed this Viking on to A.A.S. 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 it was left to B.K.S. to provide all of their maintenance requirements. The Vikings were put to work operating the former 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 a new, purpose built facility at Gatwick where the airline fleet would rapidly expand to include around 15 aircraft at its peak, a good number of these being comprised 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 help in providing additional info and corrections for this page.


African Air Safaris fleet while based at SEN

Handley Page Hermes

G-ALDM – 5/56 to 8/62

WFU at Hurn 11/60 & scrapped 8/62

Vickers 498 Viking

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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