|Founded||18 May 1948|
|Fleet size||See Aircraft operated below|
|Parent company||British Aviation Services Group|
|Headquarters||Southampton, Hampshire, United Kingdom|
Aquila was founded by Barry Aikman, initially using two converted Royal Air Force Short Sunderland flying boats, ex-British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC), for freight work. During the Berlin Airlift a further 10 Sunderland 3s were acquired, and these flew a total of 265 supply missions during 1948/49 from Finkenwerder on the river Elbe to the river Havel on the outskirts of Berlin.
Operations during 1949—1951
After the end of the Berlin Airlift, Aquila hoped to find work for their fleet on worldwide ad hoc passenger and freight charters, but this plan quickly proved unsuccessful.
Aquila obtained an association agreement with British European Airways (BEA) under which they were permitted to operate scheduled services from Southampton to Lisbon and Madeira. These flight were supplemented by charter flights to a wide variety of destinations. June 1949 brought a series of Sunderland 3 flights with holidaymakers from Falmouth, Cornwall to the Isles of Scilly. Other 1949 charters included seamen from Aden to the UK and from Hull to Helsinki.
The popular Madeira service continued in 1950/51 and was joined by a Southampton to Jersey service from 7 July 1950, which used St Aubins Bay to land its passengers. The airline also provided charter flights for shipping firms.
Operations during 1952
Suez Crisis. In 1956 an Aquila Airways flying boat was used to evacuate civilian Suez Canal Company personnel, together with their families, from the Great Bitter Lake to Southampton water, via Grand Harbour, Malta.
During the later 1950s, Aquila Airways faced increasing competition from land based aircraft and being unable to obtain replacement flying boats (offers to purchase the prototype Princess flying boats having been rebuffed), the company ceased operations in 1958. This left TEAL as the only long range flying boat passenger airline.
Accidents and incidents
- Sunderland 3 'Hythe' class G-AGKY was damaged during takeoff and subsequently capsized and sank at Calshot on 28 January 1953 without injuries to its occupants.
- Short Solent G-AKNU crashed into Chessell Down, Isle of Wight on 15 November 1957, killing 45 out of the 58 on board.
Notes and Citations
- independent from government-owned corporations
- Merton-Jones 1976, p. 55
- PortCities Southampton > Southampton > Flying Boats > Aquila to the end > Aquila Airways
- Flight International, 13 March 1953, Civil Aviation, Aquila/Silver City merger, p. 342
- ASN Aircraft accident description Shorts S.45 Solent 3 G-AKNU - Chessel Down, England
- "Flight International". Sutton, UK: Reed Business Information. ISSN 0015-3710. (various backdated issues relating to Britavia and British Aviation Services, 1948–1958)
- "Classic Aircraft (Gone but not forgotten: Aquila Airways)". Hersham, UK: Ian Allen Publishing. April 2012: 86–89. ISSN 2049-2081. (Classic Aircraft online)