Tradair History


With thanks to Daniel Kusrow for the logo above

Operated at SEN from Mar 1958 to Dec 1962

Founders/Directors – Mr Laurence Monnickendam and Mr Eric Hanks

As far as Southend airlines were concerned, Tradair could arguably be considered to have been one of the airport’s most successful failures. Indeed, even several months before its demise, Tradair’s aircraft were working day and night on an entire bevy of regular services, ad-hoc freight and I.T. passenger charters and with a considerable number of routes under its belt, its collapse came as a shock to many who sincerely believed that this airline surely must be making substantial profits. However by December 1962, this British independent would sadly become yet another further addition to the ever growing number of airlines that were rapidly disappearing into obscurity, although rather than collapsing in its entirety, most of its assets and some of its staff would be transferred to new owner Channel Airways in December 1962.

The Tradair story initially began five years earlier in February 1958 with two aircraft, one of which – Vickers Viking G-AFJR – was the first to make the airline’s inaugural, revenue earning flight on behalf of its owner from Southend. In many ways, Tradair was an unusual airline for the time being as it flew most of its operations from its home base, although during the later years some services also would be flown from Blackbushe, Gatwick, Heathrow and Manchester, although many of them would still often originate from SEN. Two more aircraft were acquired in May 1958 and after a successful first summer, Tradair bolstered their lifting capacity further still with the purchase of three immaculate, ex-Queen’s Flight aircraft that had been purchased from the RAF.


The summer of 1958 and 1959 came and went with both Tradair’s scheduled routes and its inaugural, I.T. charter network expanding immensely during these years. Meanwhile, some of the Vikings settled down to freight work which was for the most carried out by G-AJFR and FS, both of which Tradair had fitted out with twin cargo doors. Meanwhile, the ex-Queen’s Flight Vikings were reserved almost exclusively for I.T. work while the remaining aircraft flew a mixture of ad-hoc charters and cargo services. At the beginning of 1960, Tradair would receive its first turbine powered aircraft in the shape of two ex-Aer Lingus 700 series Viscounts that this airline was removing from service to make way for the bigger and better 800 series aircraft. While they went on to provide sterling service for the airline, Tradair found them expensive to maintain and operate which meant that they were either leased or withdrawn from service for extended periods.

However in May 1960, Tradair had eleven serviceable aircraft available to it after having purchased a further four Vikings from Hunting Clan, although these particular aircraft would eventually be WFU or disposed of over the coming months. Indeed, it seemed that Tradair was going from strength to strength and by the end of the summer more than 20 routes were being flown on a regular basis, although much of this flying would invariably take place during the weekends. Although the winter months would bring in less revenue, Tradair kept its Vikings busy with cargo flights, skiing charters and tours to Spain, the Middle East and North Africa, while the Viscounts would fly ‘winter sun’ charters to the Canary Islands, 1960 being the only time that Tradair would operate its Viscounts during the winter months.


Yet, despite Tradair’s apparent success, financially things were looking not so good with debts of £200,000 lurking in the background, most of this being owed for fuel although Southend Municipal Council were also awaiting the payment of landing and parking fees which totalled several thousand pounds. While the airline’s situation was admittedly precarious, in November 1961 Barclays decided to give Tradair a year to pull itself out of the red and appointed a receiver to oversee this turn around. The not so cost effective Viscounts were removed from service and while the Vikings once again had another busy summer season, this was simply not enough to keep the airline’s head above water and in November 1962, it all came to an end with Barclays refusing any more credit or funding while at the same time, Tradair’s creditors attempted to call in their debts.

November was spent in talks with other companies who it was hoped would take over Tradair as a going concern. In attempts to keep the airline operational and thus prevent mass lay-offs and redundancies, Southend Council offered to waive the fees owed to it. However, Tradair’s survival was not to be and in December, a deal was struck with Channel Airways and the remainder of the company’s equipment and assets were transferred and then absorbed into this SEN airline while Channel would also go on to employ a number of its former aircrew and staff. By the beginning of 1963 and with the exception of a few former aircraft that were kept as SEN for spares until the late-60s, the Tradair name had disappeared into the history books forever.


Tradair Livery


Blue and White Livery (All Types)

Viscount G-APZC best

Tradair would only ever operate its aircraft in one livery although the triangular Tradair logo didn’t appear on most of the fuselages until later on. This logo was also trialled on the leading edge of a few Viking tail fins, although it was ultimately seen as being too fussy and was subsequently removed. This airline did however, operate a small number of aircraft in the liveries of other airlines although this was generally only for short periods to save on the cost of refinishing airframes that were destined not to remain in service for long.

With thanks to Ian Callier for helping with additional information


A Comprehensive History of Tradair Ltd

Nov 1957

Tradair is registered as an airline by Laurence Monnickendam and Eric Hanks

Jan 1958

The company’s Board of Directors is organised and Capt Allen joins the airline board as Chief Pilot

Feb 1958

Tradair purchases its first two aircraft from Airwork –  Vickers Vikings G-AJFR and G-AJFS

Mar 1958

The first revenue flight is carried out by G-AJFR. Meanwhile, G-AJFS undergoes the fitting of an extra rear cargo door

The Rotterdam service begins

April 1958

Charters are flown to such destinations as Antwerp, Basle, Dusseldorf, Gothenburg and Nice

May 1958

Charters are flown to Basle, Brussels, Cardiff, Dublin, Helsinki, Le Bourget, Lisbon, Malmo and Rotterdam

Jun 1958

Weekly I.T charters begin to Palma via Lyons

Regular services to Perpignan and Pisa commence

Bi-weekly service to Malta via Rome begins

A total of 16 freight flights are made by both Vikings between Rotterdam and Southend importing meat due to the 1958 Foot and Mouth outbreak

Jul 1958

Charters include trips to Dusseldorf, Gibraltar and Stockholm

Aug 1958

Tradair purchases three former Queen’s Flight Vikings, bolstering the fleet to five aircraft

Charters include flights to Antwerp, Bremen and Tarbes

Sep 1958

Charters include flights to Basle, Berlin, Bremen and Brussels

A regular service is established to Antwerp

Oct 1958

The I.T charter season ends

Tradair flies ad-hoc charters to Malta and Rome

Nov 1958

Viking G-AJFS carries out a three week tour of Africa and the Spanish Islands, starting at Barcelona and returning via Seville

Charter work includes flights to Le Tourquet

Dec 1958

The first of the ex-Queen’s Flight Vikings G-APOO goes into service on a flight to Bordeaux

Viking G-AJFR is temporarily withdrawn and has a second rear door fitted

December charters include Amsterdam, Bordeaux, Hamburg, Newcastle and Turku

Jan 1959

Charters take the Vikings to Amsterdam, Bahrain, Bremen, Brussels, Frankfurt, Ostend and Rome

Spring 1959


I.T Charter Routes for 1959 – Courtesy of Johan van der Zee

May 1959

Two more Vikings join the fleet from Airwork – G-AIXR and G-AKTV

Jun 1959

Tradair purchases Short Scion G-AEZF from private owners in Redhill and she is transported to Southend by road on June 2nd. The intention was to convert her for executive charters although work went very slowly and because of this, this project never left the ground

May/Jun/Jul 1959

I.T charters resume to Lyons, Ostend, Nice, Palma and Perpignan

Other charter work takes in Athens, Barcelona, Basle, Dublin, Gibraltar, Malta, Ostend, Pisa, Rome, Tarbes, Tenerife, Treviso and Valencia

Passenger flights begin from Manchester although they originate from Southend

Oct 1959

The year’s I.T charter season ends

Ad-hoc charters include a Blackpool to Rome service

Nov 1959

Tradair flies several Rotterdam to Hurn services

Dec 1959

Christmas charters are mostly flown from Stansted to destinations such as Amsterdam, Barcelona, Le Bourget and Lyons

Jan 1960

Tradair acquires two Vickers 707 Viscounts from Aer Lingus. These are the very first Viscounts to operate regularly in and out of Southend

Feb 1960

The Viscounts both arrive at Southend

G-APZB flies the first Tradair Viscount service to Copenhagen on the 12th. G-APZC makes her début one week later on a service to Nice

Mar 1960

Charters flown include Copenhagen, Nice and Treviso

Tradair pioneers unscheduled freight services between Hamburg and Gothenburg at reduced rates compared to the I.A.T.A standard

Apr 1960

Spring charter work takes the fleet to Copenhagen, Gothenburg, Hamburg, Le Bourget, Oslo and Rome

I.T routes from Berlin begin which take in Barcelona, Naples, Palma and Rimini. These are flown by the Viscounts

The Viscounts also carry out trooping work between Dusseldorf and Belfast plus a charter to Stuttgart

May 1960

Tradair buys four Vikings from Hunting Clan. Two are temporarily retained (G-AGRV and G-AHPC) while the other two (G-AKBG and G-AMNK) are almost immediately sold on to Don Everall Aviation

The extensive Viking schedule and I.T charters include fights to Athens, Biarritz, Basle, Casablanca, Copenhagen, Gibraltar, Lyons, Madrid, Munich, Oporto, Palma, Pisa, Rimini, Rome, Rotterdam, Treviso, Zagreb and Zurich

More I.T works sees the Viscounts flying to Palma every Friday evening

Viscount Zulu Bravo flies the first Lyons via Naples and Pisa services both of which become a regular part of Tradair’s route network during the summer of 1960

June/Jul/Aug 1960

Viking charters include a considerable number of trips to Belfast, Glasgow and Manchester. Also on top of their regular I.T commitments they would fly charters to Berlin, Blackpool, Gothenburg, Malmo, Munich, Oporto, Rimini and Titograd

Viscount flights to Nice, Rimini and Rome depart from Southend every Saturday during the holiday season

Naples, Oporto, Pisa, Treviso and Turin flights depart every other Sunday

Bi-weekly flights begin from Glasgow to Jersey and Ostend in July and from Manchester to Munich in August

Sep 1960

Viscounts operate fortnightly ‘winter sun’ services from Southend to Tenerife via Jersey which continue through to March 1961

Oct 1960

The I.T routes are closed down for the season

Several ad-hoc charters still take place which include trips to Jersey and Lyons

Nov 1960

Despite the seasonal slow down, charter work continues which includes flights to Amsterdam, Jersey, Oporto, Malmo and a rather ‘spirited’ flight to Bordeaux with three tons of whiskey

Dec 1960

Christmas charters take in Basle, Jersey, Lyons, Palma, Sylt and Zurich

Winter charters fly skiers to Geneva and Zurich

Cargo flights begin between Southend and Malmo

Viking Foxtrot Romeo suffers and engine failure between Lyons and Southend, landing safely at Le Bourget

Jan 1961

Operations are few and far between although several flights take place including charters to Jersey

Tradair leases two Vikings to Lufthansa to carry out cargo flights between Dusseldorf and Heathrow. These continue until March

Mar 1961

The I.T routes begin again with flights to Palma and an ad-hoc charter to Rome

Apr 1961

Flights begin in earnest. On top of the regular I.T routes Tradair flies to Bergen, Dublin, Le Bourget, Luxembourg, Manchester, Newcastle and Zurich

May 1961

Regular services begin between Southend/Manchester and Maastricht

The I.T season swings into action with aplomb, flying similar services to those of the previous year

More trooping flights take place with the Viscounts operating between Dusseldorf, Prestwick and Benbecula

Day trips to Le Bourget and Rotterdam begin

Apr 1961

A work overload results in Tradair leasing a DC-3 (G-AMGD) from Autair to help fulfil its commitments

June/July 1961

Tradair begins to fly on behalf of Aer Lingus, B.E.A and B.O.A.C

An industrial dispute involves the transportation of trans-Atlantic passengers from Preswick to Heathrow during July

Tradair applies for a considerable number of I.T only routes

Sep/Oct 1961

Tradair flies several I.T charter flights on behalf of ailing Air Safaris. Some of these routes are eventually taken over after the collapse of this airline

Nov 1961

After several, high profile airline collapses, Tradair’s creditors begin to get the jitters. While Tradair’s loses are not as serious as many of it rivals, the receivers are called in in an attempt to make the airline profitable. Barclays gives Tradair’s receivers exactly one year to turn things around

As a result of cost cutting measures, the two Viscounts are taken out of service

Dec 1961

Regular, twice weekly cargo flights begin between Malmo and Southend

Not being content with Tradair’s financial position, a large number of I.T routes are rejected by the licensing board which only exasperates the airline’s already precarious position

Mar/Apr 1962

Ad-hoc charters are flown to Amsterdam, Basle, Cologne, Le Bourget, Luxembourg, Nice, Rotterdam and Zurich

The I.T charters begin again starting with Perpignan on April 10th

May 1962

A bi-weekly service begins to Zaragosa while weekly services to Maastricht resume

The I.T routes are similar to the following year with the addition of Clermont Ferrand and the aformentioned Zaragosa

Jul/Aug 1962

B.E.A leases a Viscount to fly services within Germany from Berlin. This lease continues through to October

Charters included flights to Bergen, Dijon, Leconfield, Luxembourg and Odense

Sep 1962

Weekly services start between Southend and Groningen/Odense

Oct 1962

Tradair’s final I.T charter season comes to an end although freight flights continue to Luxembourg, Odense and Malmo

Nov 1962

Tradair fails to make a profit within the stated deadline and with debts of more than £200,000, Barclays pulls the plug

Viscount Zulu Bravo carries out one final service to Rome before being sold by the receiver to Starways

Regular services are suspended on November 29th after a flight to and from Odense

Dec 1962

Tradair’s final, revenue flight takes place on December 9th

All of Tradair’s equipment and assets are transferred to Channel Airways on December 21st after the receivers and the airline broker a deal

Tradair is officially no more and the name is consigned to the annuals of aviation history


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