BAF History

BAF small

Operated at SEN from Sep 1967 to Apr 1993

Founder/Director – Subsidiary of B.U.A. (Mike Keegan from Oct 1971)

British Air Ferries became the new name for British United Air Ferries in September 1967 after this airline and engineering company A.T.E.L. were released from their parent company B.U.A. However, while little would initially change operations wise, with ferry services continuing from Lydd until 1970 and from Southend until 1976, a change of ownership would eventually see B.A.F. slowly moving away from the car ferry services of old, while passenger and cargo flights would increase dramatically under its prospective new owner. It was in 1971 that the renowned Keegan family stepped up and purchased B.A.F. and in the process inherited many of B.U.A.F.’s former aircraft, a number of which were gradually becoming either unfit for purpose or were no longer suitable for the kind of services that B.A.F. wanted to offer. While the Carvairs would be kept for the most at Southend, the remaining Bristol Freighters were either slowly removed from service or dispatched to Ferryfield where they would end their days.

To enable B.A.F. to expand its passenger services further, the airline leased more modern equipment in the form of two Avro 748s, two Viscounts (one in 1970 from Aer Lingus and one in 1973 from Alidair) and in 1972/73 two Canadair CL-44s through parent company Transmeridian (one of which until recently, still held the record for the largest passenger lift out of Southend). However by the end of the decade, the older equipment that was comprised of Carvairs which had so faithfully carried out car ferry services back and forth across the Channel, had been sold off to the U.S. and had all but been replaced with the Handley Page Dart Herald (a twin-engined, turboprop aircraft) primarily due to the ever dwindling demand for ferry services, the Herald’s lower operating costs and this type’s suitability for the leasing, charter and cargo flights that B.A.F. became so well known for.

While the Herald proved to be a versatile aircraft, they were still limited to carrying 56 passengers or 4.5 tons of freight and while B.A.F. dabbled with V.I.P. flights using a low density cabin layout for just 23 people, they didn’t prove particularly popular and instead B.A.F. confined itself to charter services, while dispensing with its scheduled operations to British Island Airways in 1979. Initially, B.A.F. looked to the new 94 seat, H.S. (BAe) 146 to solve its equipment problems and for a while speculation arose that as many as 10 aircraft would join the fleet, although in the end this wasn’t to be. In the mean time, B.A.F. elected to ‘upgrade’ its fleet with the 800 series Vickers Viscount, a large number of which British Airways were at the time removing from service. The first batch was acquired in 1981, this consisting of 11 aircraft with a further example arriving in 1982.

Then in 1983, the Keegans sold B.A.F.’s charter and freight division and later B.A.F. Engineering to Jadepoint and this new owner took the decision to expand the Viscount fleet further by buying, leasing or obtaining more aircraft through company mergers. A second batch of eight Viscounts eventually brought the fleet in early 1984 to a total of 19 aircraft and thus for much of the ’80s, B.A.F. became the largest Viscount operator in the world. However as the decade went on, passenger flights from Southend began to decline and with just cargo flights, the Aberdeen – Sumburgh oil flights and the odd charter being run out of other airports, several of these aircraft were withdrawn for spares use or were sold off to other airlines. Eventually, by the end of the decade the number of Viscounts had been cut by a third with two Heralds remaining in service alongside them.

During the ’90s, a number of B.A.F.’s remaining aircraft were kept busy on leases to other companies while the aircraft that stayed with the company continued to be used for oil flights (three aircraft) along with passenger charters during the day and cargo/newspaper flights at night. As B.A.F. moved forward into the next decade, new equipment began to emerge in the form of B.A.C. 1-11s, most of which had been bought from the rapidly declining, former Southend resident Dan-Air. A total of 10 aircraft ended up at SEN although only 7 of them actually went into service with the airline. The rest were parked up at the end of the old, disused 33 runway where they remained, being stripped of spares before finally being scrapped during the mid to late ’90s.

In 1993, yet another name change would occur with B.A.F. becoming B.W.A. or British World Airways. Please go to the menu for more information on the continuing saga of this airline.


Fleet Liveries

B.A.F. went through a number of liveries between its name change in 1967 and 1993 when it became British World. Below, you will see the different liveries in chronological order and the approximate dates they were changed.



Two-Tone Blue, Thin Striped Livery (B170/Carvair/Viscount/CL-44/Avro 748)




Two-Tone Blue, Thick Striped Livery (Carvair only)



Herald G-BCZG 1

Two-Tone Blue Livery (Herald only)



Carvair G-ASHZ

Silver Bee Cargo Livery (Carvair only)



Herald G-APWA

BAF Bee Livery (Herald/Viscount from 1981)



Viscount G-AOHM

Reversed Bee Livery (Viscount only)



Herald G-ASVO 3

British Air Ferries Livery (Herald/Viscount)




British Livery (Herald/Viscount/SD330)




Stylised British Air Ferries Livery (Herald/Viscount/1-11)


Other Temporary/Short Lived Liveries


Carvair G-ASDC

Pure Silver Livery (Carvair only)



G-BCWE Jan 1977

Intermediate BAF Livery (Herald only)



1-11 G-OBWC

Modified Dan-Air Livery (1-11 only)


A Comprehensive History of British Air Ferries

Sept 1967

B.U.A.F. is formed as an independent subsidiary of Air Holdings and is renamed to British Air Ferries (B.A.F.)

To cut costs, staffing is reduced by 25% and the reservations office is moved from London to Southend

B.A.F. livery rolled out at Lydd Airshow for the first time

B.A.F. management look at the Nord Transall as a possible replacement for their B170 equipment

The former B.U.A.F. base at Southampton is closed due to traffic being too seasonal – Operations now confined to Lydd & Southend only

c.Oct 1967

Two freight services offered, one from Southend and one from Lydd – A Basle-Calais-Southend rail/air service is offered with a lead time of 24 hours for their daily express service and 48 hours for their twice weekly service – Lydd meanwhile operates a Lydd-Le Touquet-Paris road/air service

Passenger services now include the ‘Belgian Arrow’, an air/rail service between London Liverpool St. & Bruges, Ghent and Brussels via the Southend-Ostend air ferry route

Dec 1967

Flights offered include Carvair car ferry services from SEN to Rotterdam, Ostend and Calais – B.A.F. also continues operations from Lydd with its B170 aircraft

Mar 1968

B.A.F. chartered by the British Government to carry up to 150 tons of luggage per week for the D.B.F.G. (British military serving in Germany) on its Southend-Ostend route

Apr 1968

Having struggled economically over the past few years, a shareholders report reveals that the airline is now operating well within budget, this coming about due to several cost cutting measures and B.A.F. now operating its own, separate marketing department

A B.A.F. Carvair flies in a memorial post for The Escape Pub to recognise WWII evaders Sir Basil Embry (former commander at RAF Rochford) and Squadron Leader ‘Paddy’ Treachy (RAF Rochford’s first successful evader) both of whom escaped from occupied France after being shot down

May 1968

B.A.F. inaugurates the ‘Belgian Arrow’ air/rail service from London to Brussels via Southend (from £7 14s return)

Half of the Carvairs on the Southend – Ostend route are fitted out to carry 55 passengers and 3 cars while all the others remain in their standard 25 passenger and 5 car configuration

May/June 1968

B.A.F. loses £60,000 in revenue due to a French workers strike and an outbreak of Foot and Mouth, the latter primarily affecting Lydd traffic

Aug 1968

Although flights in general are up, B.A.F. carries only 5% of cross-Channel traffic, down from B.U.A.F.’s 27% during the car ferry ‘peak’

Oct 1968

B.A.F. has 460 employees – Equipment now includes 5 x Carvair and 5 x B170 Mk32 aircraft

Apr 1969

Having stood idle at Stansted for several years, Carvair G-AXAI is finally completed and goes into service to replace G-ASKG


BAF Timetable for Summer 1969 (© Björn Larsson –

Oct 1969

B.A.F. has 450 employees – Equipment includes 6 x Carvair and 5 x B170 Mk32 aircraft

Dec 1969

B.A.F. carries a total of 138,000 passengers in 1969 – Up 73% compared to the last 3 years

Mar 1970

B.A.F. has 449 employees – Equipment includes 6 x Carvair and 5 x B170 Mk32 aircraft

B.A.F. leases its first turboprop aircraft from Aer Lingus in the shape of Viscount EI-AOI

Spring 1970

Oct 1970

Having almost reached the end of their spar lives, the last of B.A.F.’s B170 Freighters are removed from service at Lydd

The Lydd – Ostend route continues with Carvairs

Nov 1970

The first of two H.S. 748s leased from Court Line arrives – Operations continue with these aircraft until November 1971

Dec 1970

B.A.F. becomes the No.1 British freight carrier having flown 59,000+ tons of cargo during 1970

Mar 1971

On the 18th, Carvair G-APNH is written off when her nose gear collapses while landing on the outward leg of a Southend – Le Touquet service. Thankfully, nobody on board received more than light injuries.

May 1971

The A.T.L.B. lifts passenger number restrictions on B.A.F.’s Rotterdam flights although stops short by rejecting passenger only services on this car ferry route

Oct 1971

Ownership of B.A.F. passes from Air Holdings to Transmeridian owner Mike Keegan

A large reorganisation of the company witnesses around 10-15% of staff either leaving or being made redundant

All five Carvairs are put up for lease or tender, the intention being to replace them with Transmeridian CL-44s by March 1972

Carvair Sale 71

Nov 1971

Despite government sanctions, B.A.F. applies for a route between the U.K. and Rhodesia

All car ferry operations are relocated from Lydd to Southend

Dec 1971

Keegan decides to retain the Carvair fleet

Redundancies due to a company reorganisation total 40 in number

The Board of Directors takes over the responsibility for the running of both B.A.F. and its parent company Stansted based airline Transmeridian

Feb 1972

After the collapse of Channel Airways, B.A.F. stresses that it will honour any tickets that have already been purchased from this now defunct airline

Mar 1972

The first of two CL-44s join B.A.F. on lease from T.M.A.C.

Apr 1972


BAF Timetable for Summer 1972 (© Björn Larsson –

May 1972

B.A.F. is granted Channel’s operating licence for their former Stansted/Southend – Rotterdam routes. Although these are routes that B.A.F. already flies, although these licences now finally give B.A.F. the right to fly passenger only services

Employees number 300 – Equipment includes 5 x Carvair and 2 x CL-44 aircraft

Jun 1972

A Southend to Basle 3 x a week service relaunched (this is soon expanded to 5 times per week)

Jul 1972

Passenger operations with the CL-44 are inaugurated on the 27th

Summer 1972

B.A.F. operates an average of 25 cross-Channel flights per day

Sep 1972

Southend to Dusseldorf services begin

Oct 1972

CL-44 passenger operations do not go as planned and are summarily wound up with one of the two aircraft being returned to T.M.A.C. – Calais route dropped

May 1973

A model of the Fairey/Britten Norman Mainlander goes on display for the first time – B.A.F. considers options for 10 aircraft to replace their Carvairs

c.Apr 1973

B.A.F. begins carrying out freight services in partnership with Intra Airways flying goods between Bournemouth and the Channel Islands

Jun 1973

Employees number 320 – Equipment includes 8 x Carvair and 1 x CL-44 aircraft

Jul 1973

B.A.F. opens an engineering facility in north side hangar 1 – This hangar had previously been used by Channel Airways up until their collapse in February 1972

Sep 1973

B.A.F. suspends all services from Coventry citing a number of problems with operations at this airport

Lydd to Ostend service also cancelled

Nov 1973

B.A.F. once again considers a replacement for its Carvair aircraft. Three options include the Fairey-Britten Norman Mainlander, the BAe 146 and the Boeing 737-200C

Apr 1974

Routes from Southend now include Ostend, Lyons, Le Touquet, Rotterdam, Dusseldorf and Basle

Jan 1975

The first of B.A.F.’s Handley Page Heralds G-BCWE enters service

Apr 1975

Heralds begin to appear on the Southend to Ostend, Le Touquet and Rotterdam passenger routes

May 1975

An unexpected surge in traffic sees B.A.F. temporarily reopening Carvair car ferry services between Southend and Basle. This route is withdrawn again in October

Summer 1975

The remaining Carvairs are now equipped with quick-change interiors that can accommodate 17, 40 or 55 seats along with 5 cars, 3 cars or 1 ton of freight accordingly – The Heralds meanwhile are available in 26 seat plus 2.5 tonnes of freight or 50 pax cabin layouts

Jul 1975

Heralds begin to replace Carvairs on other B.A.F. routes

Aug 1976

A Herald with an executive, 20-seat (later 23-seat) cabin is offered for charter

Sep 1976

B.A.F. puts two Carvairs up for sale

Last Carvair

Oct 1976


B.A.F. Timetable for Winter 1976 (© Björn Larsson –

Jan 1977

All Carvair car-ferry services cease on New Year’s Day. This is the last time that such flights will ever be flown, bringing an end to Southend’s 22-year long car-ferry era

Aug 1977

A series of several North African leases begin – These are continually flown by Heralds and then Viscounts up until the mid-1980s

Oct 1977

Capt. Caroline Frost flies B.A.F.’s inaugural Southend-Dusseldorf route with Britain’s first, all female crew

Jun 1978

Another new route for B.A.F. – Manchester to Rotterdam

Jan 1979

B.A.F. transfers its scheduled services and leases about half of its Herald fleet to B.I.A. in the face of rising costs that have made these routes unprofitable. However, most of these Heralds are returned to B.A.F. after the 1979 summer season

Apr 1979

On the 4th, G-ASDC flies the final B.A.F. Carvair service between Brussels & Southend

Oct 1979

The first of two H.S. 125 biz-jets arrive to fly V.I.P. charters and/or medical evacuation services

Nov 1979

B.A.F. begins flying a nightly Southend-Birmingham-Speke route on behalf of Royal Mail

Dec 1980

An application is made for cargo flights between Southend and Basle with a stop over at Stansted using Heralds from February 1st 1981

Jan 1981

The first of B.A.F.’s Viscounts arrive at Southend from Cardiff where they have been in storage for more than a year

Mar 1981

   Viscounts begin to replace the Heralds on the North African leases 

Sep 1982

The first production BAe 146 is painted up in the B.A.F. ‘Bee’ livery and leased to the airline. This aircraft begins a year of trials and route approvals with B.A.F. who are considering options on 10 aircraft. However, seemingly satisfied with their newly procured Viscounts, the deal eventually falls through

Mar 1983

Facing financial problems, Mike Keegan sells the B.A.F. charter and freight wing of its business to Jadepoint. B.A.F. Leasing and B.A.F. Engineering are not however part of this transaction. The deal worth £2.5 million includes 5 x Viscount and 2 x Herald aircraft plus its routes and tour operator licences

Apr 1983

B.A.F. starts Jersey Air Ferries and bases Viscount G-AOYP on the island while a second aircraft G-AOYL is painted up in Jersey Airways livery although ultimately, she does not enter service with the airline. A Herald is instead later employed to bolster services

Summer 1983

BAF introduces a coach-air service between London – Southend – Ostend and it is left to Viscount G-APEY to fly the inaugural service

Aug 1983

Jadepoint purchases Guernsey Airways after the collapse of parent company Alidair and acquires one Short-330, two 700 series Viscounts and its Scottish oil charter routes. Viscounts G-ARIR and G-BDRC initially work the oil routes although they are eventually sold to Janus Airways and replaced with B.A.F.’s own 800 series Viscounts

B.A.F.’s routes are as follows:

Southend – Ostend (Pax)

Southend – Basle (Freight – 3 x per week)

Southend – Düsseldorf (Freight – 7 x per week  for Air U.K.)

B.A.F. also wins the newspaper contract between Gatwick and Jersey/Guernsey

Sep 1983

B.A.F. Engineering goes into administration and Jadepoint once again steps in and takes over

Oct 1983

Jeremy Keegan’s ‘Panavia Air Cargo’ which was formerly known as B.A.F. Leasing goes into receivership

Dec 1983

Despite almost frantic attempts to save her, B.A.F. scraps its last remaining Carvair G-AOFW at Southend

Jan/Feb 1984

A second batch of ex-British Airways Viscounts starts to arrive at Southend

Mar 1984

The Aberdeen – Sumburgh oil charter route returns impressive figures with four return flights being operated every day from Monday to Friday and one every Saturday. The Viscounts are also reported to be carrying circa 5,500 passengers and 25,000kg of spares, supplies and equipment every month

Mar 1985

B.A.F. restarts its Southend – Channel Island routes

Apr 1985

British Caledonian wet-lease Viscount G-AOYR from B.A.F. to fly their commuter routes between Gatwick and Jersey/Brussels

B.A.F. (Guernsey) also starts a Gatwick to Rotterdam service in association with B.Cal.

Aug 1985

A new ‘British’ livery is adopted after British Airways drops it although it doesn’t begin to appear on most of B.A.F.’s airframes until early 1986

Sep 1985

A fifteen year life extension for B.A.F.’s Viscounts is discussed with British Aerospace

Summer 1986

B.A.F. runs flights to and from the following British airports:

Aberdeen, Cambridge, Carlisle, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Gloucester, Humberside, Luton, Manchester, Manston, Newcastle and Teesside

Regular destinations include: Alderney, Cherbourg, Dinard, Guernsey, Jersey, Ostend, Rotterdam and Zurich

Southend flights include:

Basle (Sun) Freight

Belfast (Mon-Sat) Newspapers

Dusseldorf (Daily) Freight for Air U.K.

Edinburgh (Mon-Sat) Newspapers

Guernsey (Daily – via Jersey) Newspapers

Jersey (Mon-Sat) Newspapers

Jersey (Sat-Sun) Passenger

Apr 1987

Flights start between Manchester and Southampton

A new base is set up at Southampton and flights begin to and from the Channel Islands

May 1987

B.A.F. offers passenger services from a multitude of British airports to the Channel Islands

Jun 1987

A B.A.F. Viscount visits the Paris Air Show

Jul 1987

B.A.F. sells Guernsey Airlines to Aurigny although the Sumburgh oil contract is not part of this deal

Jan 1988

B.A.F./Jadepoint files for bankruptcy protection

May 1989

B.A.F. is finally saved from collapse by the Mostjet consortium who buy the airline

Winter 1989/90

A series of day old chick flights is flown primarily between Southend and Valencia

Mar 1990

The first of B.A.F.’s BAC 1-11s arrives at Southend

Apr 1990

Charter flights start from Cardiff, Luton and Southend to the Channel Islands

Jun/Jul 1990

A good number of World Cup charters are undertaken by B.A.F. to Italy from various European destinations

Winter 1990/91

Nightly flights on behalf of Federal Express keep three of B.A.F.’s aircraft busy. This work continues through to June

Aug 1990

Mostjet purchases Baltic and its assets after the latter goes into administration

May 1991

British Air Ferries begins a series of eel charters to Holland

Mar 1992

The last of B.A.F.’s Heralds (G-ASVO) leaves the airline

May 1992

B.A.F.’s 1-11s carry out a good number of flights for British Airways on a sub-contract basis

Feb 1993

All nightly turboprop flights are relocated from Southend to Stansted

Apr 1993

To better reflect its ongoing business, the ‘ferry’ part of the name is finally dropped and B.A.F. is reorganised as British World Airlines


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