1st April 1947

British European gobbles up Jersey Airways

Jersey Airways had been flying between the island and the mainland for 14 years when nationalisation saw it become part of the larger British European Airways. Jersey Airways had been an immediate success, carrying 20,000 passengers in its first year alone, and the following year it was twinned with Guernsey Airways Ltd as part of the larger Channel Islands Airways group.

As the dominant player, it had considerable clout and was even able to propose funding the construction of Guernsey Airport by providing a loan, in exchange for which it would be given exclusive rights to use the new airport for its first five years, thereby tightening its grip on cross-Channel air transport. In the end, the proposal was unsuccessful, but it shows the kind of resources it was able to call upon.

Change of status

The British government nationalised all airlines in 1947 and Jersey Airways found itself in the unfamiliar position of no longer being the big fish in the compact pond of Channel Island Airways, but a small fish in the much larger pond that was British European Airways.

The move had been a point of dispute between the Channel Islands and mainland, with the former arguing that the latter had no legal jurisdiction over island affairs. However, the islands to mainland routes were Channel Islands Airways’ bread and butter, so when the British government made it clear that it would close its airports to Channel Islands Airways planes if they didn’t agree, they had no option but to comply.

British European Airways (BEA) had itself been spun out of BOAC, the British Overseas Airways Corporation, on 1 January 1946, and became the largest UK domestic air services operator. However, when the two companies were re-merged on 31 March 1974, the BOAC and BEA names both disappeared, to be replaced by British Airways, the brand under which they still fly today.


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