Dan-Air Services Limited had come into being almost by accident in mid-1953, when shipbroker Davies and Newman acquired a DC-3, G-AMSU, as part of a debt payment by the failed Meredith Air Transport, to which it had been renting office space and acting as an agent. From initial operations with this single DC-3 Dan-Air London, as it came to call itself, grew an inclusive tour (IT) charter operation as well as a scheduled network. Success allowed the acquisition of Avro Yorks and in the early 1960s 49 seat Airspeed Ambassadors.
The airline moved to the new facility at Gatwick, and acquired Scottish Airlines in 1961. With a firm IT base and an impressive scheduled network, connecting the southwest with the north via a multitiude of Midlands cities, the carrier was unusually well placed for one of the independent airlines. This position of relative strength allowed it to dream and in May 1966 Dan-Air became only the second independent UK airline to put a pure jet into service (following British United).
Unlike other UK charter airlines Dan-Air didn't see the need to acquire new BAC One-Eleven 500s or Boeing 737s and instead continued to add Comet 4s into the 1970s. The first of the longer (but shorter winged) 4Bs arrived in July 1970 with the first 4C (using the longer 4B fuselage with the larger 4 wing) joined in April 1971. The arrival of the larger and younger airframes allowed the smaller Comet 4s to be withdrawn with the last serving into 1974. The larger Comet 4B/4Cs allowed up to 119 passengers to be crammed in, though the Comets were taken off the 'affinity' charters across the Atlantic to be replaced by Boeing 707s.
Gradually age began to catch up with the Comets, though the airline continued to add 'new' aircraft into late 1975. The last 5 were ex-RAF aircraft which probably had low hours on them. BAC One-Elevens had supplemented the Comets since 1969 and 727-100s did join from 1973. It wasn't until 1980 that the final Comet 4Cs were withdrawn. G-BDIW operated the last service, an enthusiast charter flight around southern Britain, on November 9, 1980. The type was replaced by 737-200s and 727-200s however Dan-Air's thrifty approach to airline operations, along with its non-alignment with the travel agencies, would find it ill-equipped in the super competitive 1980s.
Dan-Air: Where the Secret Was the Service. Airliners issue 35
Dan Air's Comet Graveyard. Airliner World Feb 2012
West, C. Dan-Air Remembered. Airliner World May 2013
Dan-Air fleet. RZjets.net
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: