Aviation Traders

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Aviation Traders Limited (ATL) was a war-surplus aircraft and spares trader formed in 1947. In 1949, it began maintaining aircraft used by some of Britain's contemporary independent airlines on the Berlin Airlift. In the early 1950s, it branched out into aircraft conversions and manufacturing. During that period it also became a subcontractor for other aircraft manufacturers. By the end of the decade, it was taken over by the Airwork group.[1][2][3]

Contents

History

Aviation Traders Ltd (ATL) was established by Freddie Laker at Bovingdon in Hertfordshire, England, in 1947 to trade in war-surplus aircraft and spares. Two years later, Laker shifted his fledgling business to new premises at Rochford aerodrome (later Southend Municipal Airport) near Southend-on-Sea, Essex, England.[1][4]

ATL initially specialised in converting numerous war-surplus bombers and transporters into freighters. This included the conversion of Handley Page Halifax bombers into freighters, six of which were sold to Bond Air Services, an early post-war independent British airline. Bond Air Services based these planes at Wunstorf aerodrome in West Germany to carry essential supplies into West Berlin during the Berlin Blockade of 1948-49. Bond Air Services furthermore contracted Aviation Traders to service these planes. In return, Aviation Traders got half of Bond Air Services' freight charges.[5] Following the end of the Berlin Airlift in 1949, Laker had most of the Halifaxes he had supplied to various independent airlines during the Airlift scrapped at its Southend facilities.

Aviation Traders (Engineering) Ltd, ATL's engineering division, was formally established in 1949. Laker put Jack Wiseman, a fully qualified aircraft maintenance engineer with whom he had worked for a brief period at London Aero Motor Services (LASM), in charge of his new engineering business.[6]

Three former British European Airways (BEA) Vickers Vikings, which Laker had acquired in 1949 as well, were overhauled at ATL's Southend maintenance base and sold on to British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) at a profit.[7]

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