25th January 1935
Channel Islands Airways is established
Channel Islands Airways, one of Jersey’s best-known local airlines, came into being on 25 January 1935 under the ownership of the Great Western Railway, Southern Railway, Whitehall Securities Corporation and the existing Jersey Airways Limited. Together, they would run services between the Channel Islands and mainland alongside Railway Air Services, which was owned by the four companies that ran Britain’s railways prior to the formation of British Rail.
It was good news for islanders, with the new company investing in a fleet of four-engined de Havilland aircraft that would cut journey times between the island and both the UK mainland and France.
Channel Island Airways brought together more than just the railway companies and Jersey Airways: as a holding company it also incorporated Guernsey Airways, giving the islands a unified and more flexible service overall.
Neither Guernsey nor Jersey had their own airports at the time. Guernsey airport opened in 1939, and Jersey in 1937. Jersey Airways had offered to help pay for Guernsey’s airport’s construction if it was granted five years’ exclusive use of the facility in return.
In the interim, then, flights to and from Jersey continued to use the sand of St Aubin’s Bay in lieu of a runway, which led to a number of serious accidents. In 1934, a plane had been washed into the sea while trying to take off and, the following day, two boys were killed when a plane swerved and hit the sea wall they were sitting on.
The formation of Channel Islands Airways couldn’t have come at a better time for Jersey Airways which, in the previous six months, had suffered five serious mishaps, including a number of crashes. The opportunity to rebrand the company, which was still less than two years old, must have seemed like a sensible idea.
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