BKS Pt2: Northeast Towards BA
On August 20, 1964 Teeside airport opened and BKS started routes to Heathrow, Belfast and Dublin. Further services to Dusseldorf, Amsterdam, Jersey, Ostend and Paris kept both Ambassadors and HS-748s busy. By this time it was actually London Heathrow that had become the airline's busiest base. BKS owned maintenance facilities at Southend and Newcastle for servicing their fleet even though the former no longer was part of the network.
By this time the triumvirate of BKS was reduced to only the S with Cyril J Stevens now the sole original owner and chairman of the board. In 1966 a modified livery featuring more blue and red was adopted and the Viscount returned to the fleet when an ex-United series 745 was added. She became G-ATTA. Two further secondhand Viscount 700s arrived in early 1967 whilst the association with BEA bore fruit with the lease of 4 Viscount 806s in 1968 (two more arrived in 1970).
The new Viscounts replaced DC-3s and the Ambassadors. The last Ambassador service was on October 31, 1967 however the aircraft all got a second life with BKS. Already in 1963 one had been converted to an all freight configuration. In 1964 she had been converted further to carry horses and this was the fate of the remaining two also. BKS became the world's largest carrier of bloodstock transporting over 2000 racehorses annually.
1967 was also the year when BKS began to drift further from its roots as BEA took a controlling interest and formed a single holding company for it and its other regional buyout Cambrian Airways. Aircraft began to appear with British Air Services titles though the rest of the BKS livery remained intact for now. The addition of BEA Viscount 800s also saw the end of the rather short-lived HS-748 operations. The aircraft represented by the JC Wings release G-ARRW joined Skyways who later merged with Dan Air. By 1990 she was with British Independent but was sold in late 1992 and exported to Nepal, as 9N-ACM, for Necon Air. She was written off in November 1997 after a collision with another aircraft at Pokhara.
The next year, 1969, saw an even more impressive acquisition when two Trident 1s (not taken up from an original Channel Airways order) were delivered. The first, G-AVYC, flew its first service, between Heathrow and Newcastle, on March 28, 1969. The Tridents also saw service on charter flights and enabled replacement of the Britannias, which sadly didn't receive third careers. One of the Brits was kept on until 1971 as a tech backup for the Tridents however.
The last remnants of the BKS livery disappeared as part of a major rebranding exercise undertaken by BEA for its regional divisions when it took final and full control on October 31, 1970. BKS was renamed Northeast Airlines to reflect its primary network focus. The new colours were bright yellow with a new northeast style logo. Cambrian also got a similar makeover but in red with a Welsh dragon.
Northeast (and Cambrian) were eventually merged into the new British Airways in 1976 and G-AVYC served her new master until being withdrawn in July 1980 and scrapped in May 1981.
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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: