BUAF History


Operated at SEN from Jan 1963 to Sep 1967

Founder/Director – Subsidiary of B.U.A.

B.U.A.F. came about as a merger of two car ferry airlines, both of which had been procured by the huge British United Airways Group’s, Air Holdings. With B.U.A. having already established itself as an airline with a cross-Channel vehicle carrying wing called Channel Air Bridge which it had acquired in January 1959, the group would then go on to buy out Silver City (C.A.B.’s only real competitor) in January 1962. During this year, these two airlines would slowly begin to combine their services and operations until officially becoming British United Air Ferries on January 1st 1963 although somewhat curiously, this name would be found primarily on company literature and tickets only.

As a result of this merger, the former C.A.B. services and their aircraft would continue operating from Southend, while the same would be true of the former Silver City operations that continued from Lydd. A small number of flights were also operated from Southampton. The only real difference now was that all aircraft would fly under one banner, that of their new owner British United. Further routes would also be opened from other British airfields such as Manchester and Coventry although these were invariably short lived and were eventually withdrawn at the same time as B.U.A.F.’s ‘deep penetration’ routes in an attempt to cut costs.

B.U.A.F. would go on to become the shortest lived name within this successive hierarchy of companies and in 1967, the airline was detached from B.U.A. and emerged as an independent Air Holdings asset that was now known as British Air Ferries. All former B.U.A.F. aircraft and assets were thus passed on to this reformed entity and were quickly given a new identity. See ‘BAF History’ for further information.


Fleet Livery

During the four years and nine months that this airline officially operated for, there was no official B.U.A.F. livery, it’s aircraft instead operating in British United colours while operating its flights under the B.U.A.F. name. That being said, its B170 aircraft would sometimes carry the British United Air Ferries name on the inside of its clamshell doors, although this could quite naturally only be seen when the doors were open. The airline used two different colour schemes during its short life, the first of which came into use during the latter part of 1962, before the official merger of C.A.B. and Silver City.



British United Silver, Blue and White (B170 and Carvair)




British United Sandstone and Blue (B170 and Carvair)


A Comprehensive History of British United Air Ferries

Jan 1963

Channel Air Bridge and Silver City are formally merged into one airline which is then reformed as B.U.A.F.

Mar 1963

Fleet now consists of:

3 x ATL.98 Carvair, 20 x Bristol Mk. 32 Superfreighter, 1 x Bristol Mk. 31 Freighter and 3 x Bristol Mk. 21 Freighter

Dec 1963

Carvair operations start from Lydd

B.U.A.F. carries a total of 137,000 cars in 1963

Apr 1963

BUAF Summer 1963

© Björn Larsson (timetableimages.com)


© Björn Larsson (timetableimages.com)

Apr 1964

B.U.A.F. employs 700 people

Fleet now includes:

5 x ATL.98 Carvair, 20 x Bristol Mk. 32 Superfreighter, 1 x Bristol Mk. 31 Freighter and 3 x Bristol Mk. 21 Freighter

May 1964

Services begin between Coventry and Calais with B170s

Jul 1964

The long lived, Southend-Ostend service operated on behalf of SABENA finally comes to an end

Oct 1964

Carvair operations start from Hurn

Dec 1964

B.U.A.F. carries a total of 109,000 cars in 1964

Jan 1965

A B.U.A.F. Carvair is tasked with carrying rocket parts to Australia

Spring 1965

No Passport Flights

Dec 1965

B.U.A.F. leases two Carvairs to Air Ferry for use on secret, government operations in Rhodesia

Apr 1966

B.U.A.F. route map for summer 1966

BUAF Summer 1966

© Björn Larsson (timetableimages.com)

vf66-9avf66-6avf66-3a© Björn Larsson (timetableimages.com)

May 1966

B.U.A.F. employs 650 people

Fleet now includes: 8 x ATL.98 Carvair and 21 x Bristol Mk. 32 Superfreighter

Manchester-Rotterdam service begins

Summer 1966

Nov 1966

The Coventry-Calais service is moved to Southend. It is finally withdrawn in February 1967

Dec 1966

B.U.A.F. carries a total of 101,000 cars in 1966

Feb 1967

‘Deep Penetration’ routes end due to cost cutting measures

Mar 1967

Ferry operations from Southend with the B170 officially end

Sep 1967

B.U.A.F. becomes a separate entity and changes its name to B.A.F. (British Air Ferries)

See ‘B.A.F. History’ for more details


Do you have any other, interesting snippets of information about this airline’s SEN history or indeed, any pictures or paraphernalia that you would like to share? If so, then please contact us on saadinfomail@gmail.com

Many thanks from the SAAD Admin Team.