|The document below is an extract from the 1948 - 1949 Report on UK Civil Aviation published by the Ministry of Civil Aviation :-|
BRITISH SOUTH AMERICAN AIRWAYS CORPORATION
At the start of 1948 British South American Airways Corporation was in a position to look forward to a steady development of its routes to South and Central America. The Tudor IV was gradually being introduced on these services and, with 19 aircraft of this type due to be delivered and to come into operation by mid-1949, the prospects of consolidation on existing routes and of opening new ones with modern competitive aircraft, which would replace the obsolescent Yorks and Lancastrians, were good.
On January 30th, 1948, however, the Tudor IV " Star Tiger" was lost without trace on a flight from the Azores to Bermuda, and at the subsequent Public Inquiry it did not prove possible to account for her disappearance. Almost exactly a year later another Tudor IV, the " Star Ariel ", disappeared without trace while on a flight between Bermuda and Jamaica. It again proved impossible at the Inquiry to find any definite cause of the disaster. These two tragic events had far-reaching effects on the position of B.S.A.A.C. On the first occasion the Tudors were out of service for six and a half months, with attendant dislocation of the Corporation's services, before being brought into operation again. During this period the Corporation had to maintain their services with Yorks and Lancastrians which were no longer competitive.
The services were as follows :
1 On the South Atlantic route via Dakar and Natal, a twice-weekly service to Buenos Aires, a once-weekly service to Santiago de Chile, and a once-weekly service to Rio de Janeiro. Yorks were used on all four services except on the Buenos Aires-Santiago sector of the service to Chile, which was maintained by two Lancastrian aircraft.
2 On the mid-Atlantic route via the Azores and Bermuda, the service to Santiago via the west cost of South America, and those to Nassau and Havana, were all operated once weekly with Lancastrians.
3 The local Caribbean routes, Kingston-Nassau, Nassau-Miami, and Nassau-Havana, were operated three times, eight times, and once a week respectively with Yorks.
After the second disaster the Tudors were again withdrawn from service in order that an exhaustive examination of all aircraft of this type might be carried out, and, although no defect was revealed to which the disasters could be attributed, the Corporation subsequently decided to withdraw the Tudor IV permanently from its passenger services. This decision meant the elimination of the type of aircraft on which the development plans of the Corporation had been built. As a result of this, B.S.A.A.C. had to fall back on the obsolescent Yorks at a time when foreign airlines were flying modern competitive aircraft, such as Constellations and DC6s along the Corporation's routes.
Moreover, it became necessary to readjust (with adverse effects upon the Corporation's economic position), the whole plan of trunk route operations. Some sectors, which had only recently been established, had to be abandoned, and owing to the lack of suitable aircraft there was a general curtailment of frequencies on those routes which could be maintained. In particular, B.S.A.A.C. was unable to continue to provide a through service on the mid-Atlantic route, and had to restrict its operations on this service to the routes south of Bermuda. Passengers to the Caribbean area were carried to Bermuda, via New York, by the North Atlantic service of B.O.A.C. The services from Bermuda southward were fortnightly to Santiago de Chile (a reduced frequency), and weekly to Kingston. The service to Havana became a purely local operation.
A further result of the withdrawal of the Tudors was that the Buenos Aires-Santiago sector of the route to Chile had to be abandoned. On the South Atlantic route at this time there were a twice-weekly service to Buenos Aires ; a weekly service, primarily for Chilean traffic, but temporarily terminating at Buenos Aires ; and a once-weekly service to Sao Paulo. These frequencies were the same as those provided in the first half of 1948 following the loss of the " Star Tiger ".
The local Caribbean services had been improved by the addition of a weekly Nassau-Havana service in August, 1948 (increased three months later to twice-weekly) and of a weekly Nassau-Bermuda service in December, 1948. Meanwhile the Kingston-Nassau service continued to operate weekly, and the Kingston-Miami service twice daily.
The difficulties and dislocations resulting from the withdrawal of the
Tudor IV from the Corporation's passenger services had, for the reasons
given above, a most serious effect on the competitive and, consequently on
the economic, position of B.S.A.A.C. Furthermore, with the aircraft
available to the Corporation there was little that could be done to
rectify the position. This was one of the main factors which led to the
decision, announced by the Minister on March 15th, 1949, to proceed with
the merger of B.O.A.C. and B.S.A.A.C. Nevertheless, in spite of these
serious difficulties and setbacks, B.S.A.A.C.
The principal services operated by the three subsidiaries were between Kingston and Miami, Kingston and British Honduras, Kingston-Curacao-Caracas and Trinidad, Kingston-Dominican Republic-Barbados and Trinidad, Trinidad and British Guiana, and Nassau and West Palm Beach. Other inter-island routes served the Windward and Leeward Islands, Tobago, and the Bahamas. On these services the aircraft used were Vikings, Lodestars, Dakotas and some amphibious types.
In the course of 1949, further modification in the trunk route services became necessary, and a number of important changes were made. The service to Sao Paulo, which from March had been operated once every three weeks, was re-established in June on a weekly basis. In August the Nassau-Bermuda service was suspended, and the suspension of the Nassau-Kingston service followed in October. The West Coast service to Santiago de Chile was increased to one a week in August, and to two a week in October. In October, the through service between the United Kingdom and Kingston (operated as far as Bermuda by B.O.A.C.) was increased to twice weekly. To carry freight which could not be routed via the North Atlantic due to capacity restrictions, and incidentally to supply the Nassau operating base with spares and equipment, a freight service operated by Yorks was begun in March, 1949. During the summer the service operated in both directions on either the mid-Atlantic or North Atlantic routes. In winter the west-bound service operated via the South Atlantic, but by November, 1949, the aircraft had had long range fuel tanks installed so that all seasons it was possible to operate cast-bound on the mid-Atlantic route. In November the East Coast service to Buenos Aires was reduced to a frequency of once a week.
The Merger of British Overseas Airways Corporation and British South American Airways Corporation
As already stated, the crippling effect on B.S.A.A.C. of the complete withdrawal of the Tudor IV from passenger service resulted in the Government's decision to seek Parliament's agreement to the merger of B.O.A.C. and B.S.A.A.C. The withdrawal of the Tudors had left the smaller Corporation without competitive aircraft with which to keep its routes in operation. To make good the deficiency, the only course open was to turn to B.O.A.C., who also operated long-range services. In the interests of maximum economy and efficiency a merger enabling the main services of both Corporations to be maintained with the minimum number of aircraft was the only solution. Any redundancies of staff arising from the merger were to be shared fairly between the Corporations in accordance with the procedure laid down by the National Joint Council for Civil Aviation. At the same time it was decided that the Chairman of British South American Airways Corporation and the Chief Executive of British Overseas Airways Corporation would, from July, 1949, become joint Deputy Chairmen of the single Corporation. The Airways Corporations Bill, designed to give effect to these proposals, was introduced in the House of Commons on May 11th, had passed all its stages in both Houses by July 26th, and received the Royal Assent on July 30th, 1949.
Under the provisions of this Act all B.S.A.A.C.'s assets in the United Kingdom were immediately vested in the British Overseas Airways Corporation, but in order to give time for the liquidation of numerous commitments overseas, and the necessary negotiation of fresh agreements or modification of existing ones as might be necessary in the various countries concerned, B.S.A.A.C. continued to preserve its legal entity until an " appointed day ", to be named by the Minister, for the final vesting of its remaining assets and undertakings in B.O.A.C.