DALLAS – Today in Aviation, the British airline Cambrian Airways (CS) was established by Kenneth Davies in 1935 as Cambrian Air Services.
Cambrian’s first base was RAF Pengam Moors airfield, to the east of Cardiff. A single de Havilland DH.60 Moth was acquired and used for tourist flights and to train pilots.
With the outbreak of World War II, CS was grounded. But on January 1, 1946, it became the first British airline to restart operations after the end of hostilities with a charter flight from Cardiff to Bristol.
Cambrian expanded during the 1950s, taking over Olley Air Services and Murray Chown Aviation. It also introduced its first international scheduled service between Cardiff and Paris using a de Havilland Dove. On May 23, 1956, the airline was renamed Cambrian Airways. By the end of the year, engineers had repainted its entire fleet in the new livery.
By the 1960s, CS had become the second-largest independent scheduled airline in the UK, renowned for its exemplary service and reliability.
The first turboprops arrived in early 1963, the year the Vickers Viscount 701 joined the fleet. CS used the type to expand its Inclusive Tour (IT) charter and scheduled market. It also commenced night freight services between Cardiff and Liverpool to fully utilize its fleet. In April 1970, it entered the jet age with the arrival of its first BAC One-Eleven-400 series (G-AVOF).
In 1967, Cambrian was purchased by British European Airways (BEA) but remained an independent airline. However, by 1972 BEA had incorporated it into British Air Services (BAS), set up to oversee the financial interests of both CS and BKS Air Transport/Northeast Airlines (NS).
Gradually, CS would lose much of its independence before finally being merged into the newly formed British Airways (BA) on April 1, 1974.
Featured image: The Vickers Viscount joined the fleet from BEA. Photo: Ralf Manteufel (GFDL 1.2 or GFDL 1.2, via Wikimedia Commons)