Aircraft Transport and Travel Ltd.: First Airline to receive an air mail contract awarded by the British post office

Air travel and Transport
Loading up before flight | Source: flyingmachines.ru

Air Transport and Travel Ltd. (AT&T) was founded by aviation pioneer and newspaper proprietor, George Holt Thomas. He also founded the Aircraft Manufacturing company Limited (Airco) in 1911 and the company produced thousands of aircraft, mostly designed by Geoffrey de Havilland, for the British military. AT&T initially operated relief flights from Folkestone to Ghent using a fleet of former military Airco DH.4A biplanes but after the war entered the growing market for civilian aviation.

Despite the lack of support from the British government , AT&T conducted a proving flight across the English Channel on 15 July 1919. Flown by Lt. H. Shaw in a Airco DH.9 between RAF Hendon and Paris-Le Bourget, the flight took 2 hours and 30 minutes. The company began the world’s first scheduled international flight when a single-engined Airco DH.4a VIII powered by 350 horse-power Eagle V-type engines from Rolls-Royce flew from Hounslow Heath Aerodrome to Le Bourget Airport in Paris. This historic event took place in August 25th 1919 and carried an enterprising newspaper as well as some cargo such as newspapers, Devonshire cream, jam and grouse. The fare for a passenger was 42 guineas (£44.10) which is the equivalent of around £1,700 today.

Air Travel and Transport
Four seater DH.16 at Croyden Airport | Source: flyingmachines.ru

Soon after, in November of the same year, the British Post office awarded AT&T with the first civil airmail contract. Six DH.9A aircraft were leased to the company by the British government for a regular airmail service. AT&T covered routes such as Hawkinge, Kent to Cologne, Germany and to Paris with the Airmail Pennant proudly painted on its rudder .

References:

British Airways

Britannica – “Pistons in the Air”

Wikipedia – “Air Transport and Travel”

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3 thoughts on “Aircraft Transport and Travel Ltd.: First Airline to receive an air mail contract awarded by the British post office

  1. Pingback: Imperial Airways: First British national airline – First in Aviation

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