The airline was founded in 1949 by a group of technicians and the shipping line Chargeurs Réunis. This was the same company which had founded Aeromaritime in 1934 to supplement the shipping operations in West Africa. Aéromaritime continued in its new postwar form under the wing of UAT until the surge of African nationalism resulted in the creation of a new Air Afrique and other local companies.
Early in 1950 Douglas DC-4 Skymaster scheduled services were started to Dakar, Pointe Noire and Saigon. In 1951 the Dakar service was extended to Abidjan. UAT ordered the De Havilland Comet1A and placed it in service on 19 February 1953 on certain routes to West Africa and by November 1953 the Comets were serving Johannesburg. In September 1954 the first of a fleet of Nord Noratlas aircraft was put into service and in 1955 the Douglas DC-6 replaced the Comets after their problems with BOAC.
The February 1959 OAG shows 14 DC-6Bs a week out of Le Bourget bound for Tripoli, Johannesburg and other African cities.
Millions of revenue passenger-kilometers, scheduled flights only: 304 in 1957, 468 in 1960.
On 26 December 1958 a Douglas DC-6B of UAT (F-BGTZ) crashed in Salisbury, Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). Three passengers out of a total of 70 passengers and crew died in the crash. The aircraft took off in a tropical storm and hit a downdraft. The crash site was within the airport perimeter.