The short BAC One-Eleven sold well albeit usually in small numbers. It was especially popular with the UK's second tier independent operators looking for a small jet to fly charters to the Mediterranean and on their limited scheduled networks. Autair was one such airline, which ordered a trio of BAC One-Eleven 416EKs in 1967 for delivery from February-May 1968. They were used, in a high capacity 89 passenger layout, almost exclusively on the airline's IT charter flights for Clarksons holidays to such places as Alicante, Athens, Barcelona, Basel, Bourdeaux, Budapest, Copenhagen etc. They occasionally also operated trooping flights to Germany. These three aircraft were registered G-AVOE 'Halcyon Days', G-AVOF 'Halcyon Breeze' and G-AWBL 'Halcyon Dawn'.
A further pair of short One-Elevens were also operated by Autair but only 4, the 3 above and G-AVGP, would transfer to the renamed Court Line Aviation in December 1969 and only one of these would see any service. They were replaced by larger series 500s with only G-AWBL gaining the new Court scheme, though she too was sold by January 1971.
The destination of the four One-Elevens would be the Welsh themed Cambrian Airways which by then had been acquired by BEA and formed part of its British Air Services subsidiary - albeit still operating as Cambrian. G-AVOF was the first to be delivered on December 19, 1969 followed by the others in April and December 1970, with AWBL not arriving until February 12, 1971. They saw service on Cambrian's scheduled routes such as Heathrow - Liverpool, Cork, Dubrovnik and the Isle of Man and Liverpool - Dublin. They were also used on the familiar charters and additionally cycled, one at a time, through BEA's internal German services out of Berlin Templehof to Hamburg and Hannover. Cambrian gained a bright new orange scheme in the early 1970s but the airline's days were numbered by the decision to create British Airways. From September 1, 1973 all flights were marketed as British Airways and the British Air Services fleet was subsumed into the new British Airways in April 1974.
Interestingly by this time British European itself had come around to the short One-Eleven and acquired three second-hand aircraft near the end of 1973 for operation from Birmingham. These included a pair of ex-American Airlines One-Eleven 401AKs and an ex-Channel Airways 408EF. With the impending creation of BA none of these frames wore the BEA Speedjack and all were painted directly into the new Negus scheme.
Along with the ex-Cambrian aircraft this gave the new British Airways 7 short One-Eleven 400s of various marks alongside its 18 series 510EDs. The 7 shorties were mainly used on domestic and regional routes from Birmingham, Manchester and Jersey. Additional capacity was acquired briefly in 1977 when a Gulf Air series 432FD was leased for a few months. The One-Elevens lives were standard (I was going to say quiet but that's simply not possible for a One-Eleven) operating the usual schedules and weekend charters until 1980 when the fleet was shrunk. BA acquired a trio of One-Eleven 539GLs and these were traded for two of the ex-Cambrian 416EKs. G-AVOE and AVOF left the fleet in June and August 1980.
G-AVOE was leased to the short-lived Air Manchester and then saw service with British Air Ferries and Dan Air prior to sale to the USA in mid 1984 as N390BA for Britt Air. Sold again in Sept 1987 she went to Nigeria for Okada Air as 5N-AYS and was retired in 1997. G-AVOF had a similar career trajectory. She served leases to Air Manchester, BIA, British Caledonian and Dan Air before being sold to the USA as N392BA for Britt Airways in March 1985. In May 1987 she was sold to Okada Airlines as 5N-AYT and she served in Africa for a decade until December 1997 when she was stored at Benin City.
The rest of the short One-Elevens soldiered on with BA until late 1988 when they were replaced at their Birmingham and Manchester strongholds by the newly acquired One-Eleven 500s of British Caledonian. That was far from the end of their careers however, or indeed even the last time they would wear the Landor colours of British Airways. All 5 of the aircraft were purchased by Birmingham European Airways in 1990 and delivered between January and June. This new BEA opened up a selection of schedules from its Birmingham hub and also operated routes from Brum to Frankfurt and Brussels as well as Newcastle - Frankfurt for BA. One aircraft, G-BBMF, was sold to Nigeria in July 1991 but the other four carried on.
Birmingham European was merged with Brymon Airways in October 1992 to form Brymon European Airways but the merger was short-lived on August 1, 1993 the airlines were demerged and the old BEA part became a fully owned subsidiary of Denmark's Maersk Air taking its parent's name. The 'new' airline became a British Airways franchisee and all four of the survivors were repainted into the Landor scheme. The One-Eleven 400s were reconfigured to British Airways Club Europe configuration with only 63 seats (28 4 abreast Club seats and 35 5 abreast tourist seats). They operated from Birmingham's Euro-hub terminal to destinations such as Amsterdam, Belfast, Copenhagen, Milan and Stuttgart. The end of their UK careers finally came from mid-1996 when all four were sold to Nationwide Airlines of South Africa. The last to go was G-BBMG in March 1997. Despite not being BA's first choice the short One-Eleven proved itself a valuable workhorse from the regional airports of the UK that nowadays BA has long forgotten.
I'm Richard Stretton: a fan of classic airliners and airlines who enjoys exploring their history through my collection of die-cast airliners. If you enjoy the site please donate whatever you can to help keep it running: