Northeast Airlines (UK)

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Northeast Airlines
Northeast airlines uk logo.svg
IATA ICAO Callsign
NS NS Norjet
Founded 1951 (as BKS)
Ceased operations 1976
Hubs Newcastle International Airport
Parent company British Air Services
Headquarters Newcastle upon Tyne, England, UK

Northeast Airlines (NEA) – formerly BKS Air Transport – was an airline based in the United Kingdom that operated as BKS from 1951 until 1970. NEA's operations and fleet were merged into British Airways in 1976.

Company history[edit]


BKS Air Transport Douglas C-47 wearing the initial all-metallic scheme at Manchester Airport in 1954
BKS Air Transport Airspeed Ambassador in 1965
BKS HS748 at Manchester in September 1964 wearing Avro 748 Jetprop titles
Northeast Airlines Vickers Viscount 806 at London Heathrow Airport in 1971.
A Northeast Airlines Hawker Siddeley Trident at Teesside Airport in 1974, now in British Airways/Northeast Airlines hybrid livery.

The airline commenced operations in October 1951 from its base at Southend Airport as BKS Aero Charter flying a Douglas DC-3. (BKS were the founders' initials – i.e. James Barnby, Thomas Keegan and Cyril Stevens.[1]) Further Dakotas were bought in 1952. For a couple of years it flew charters and freight until 1953, when it was granted permission to operate scheduled services between Newcastle, the Isle of Man and Jersey. The Dakotas continued in operation with BKS until the last of eight was sold in 1967.[2] The airline's name was changed to BKS Air Transport at the end of 1953.[3]

To expand, three Vickers VC.1 Vikings were acquired in 1955[4] to operate flights to Málaga. The next aircraft type was the pressurised Airspeed Ambassador. It was operated from 1957 and enabled the introduction of longer range scheduled services to Basle, Belfast, Bilbao, Dublin and Santander.

As the network grew, more scheduled flights were added, including Newcastle to London and other routes. In 1958 the Bristol 170 Freighter was added, followed by the Vickers Viscount in 1961. Further expansion in and out of London saw the introduction of the Hawker Siddeley HS 748 in 1962 and the Bristol Britannia in 1964.[5]

By the mid-1960s, London Heathrow had become BKS's busiest operational base with scheduled domestic flights to Leeds/Bradford, Teesside and Newcastle, as well as international scheduled services to Bilbao, Biarritz, and Bordeaux.[1]

The first jet aircraft in the BKS fleet were two Hawker Siddeley Tridents, which were acquired in April 1969. These served the Newcastle-Heathrow route, as well as on inclusive tour charters from Newcastle and London to Mediterranean destinations. Two further Tridents were acquired later.

BKS and Cambrian Airways formed the "British Air Services" group in 1967. British Air Services was a holding company 70% owned by British European Airways and 30% by the former shareholders of BKS and Cambrian.[6]

Northeast Airlines[edit]

The airline's name was changed to Northeast Airlines on 1 November 1970. In July 1973, the airline became part of the British Airways group.[7] By 1976 Northeast had been fully integrated into British Airways. The last Northeast flights operated on 31 March 1976.[8]

Historical fleet[edit]

Bristol Freighter at Liverpool in 1961

Accidents and incidents[edit]

In literature[edit]

BKS Air Transport is featured heavily in the novel Behind the Cockpit Door by Arthur Whitlock, a first officer and subsequent captain who served with the airline for just over two decades. The main section of the book charts the airline's development from its origins at Southend Aerodrome in the early 1950s to its merger with British Airways in the 1970s.


  1. ^ a b History of BKS
  2. ^ Gradidge, 2006, p. 217
  3. ^ Merton-Jones 1976, p. 322
  4. ^ Merton-Jones 1976, p. 323
  5. ^ Merton-Jones 1976, pp. 330–331
  6. ^ "Britain's Airline Industry" Flight International 24 October 1968
  7. ^ Merton-Jones 1976, p. 330
  8. ^ Hengi,[page needed]
  9. ^ Accident description at the Aviation Safety Network
  10. ^ Denham 1996, pp. 85, 107
  • Gradidge, J.M.G. (2006). DC-1, DC-2, DC-3 - The First Seventy Years. Air-Britain (Historians) Ltd. ISBN 0-85130-332-3. 
  • Hengi, B.I. (2000). Vergangen, Vergessen, Vorbei [Airlines Remembered: Over 200 Airlines of the Past, Described and Illustrated in Colour]. Neil Lewis, translator. Leicester, England: Midland Publishing. ISBN 978-1-85780-091-3. 
  • Merton-Jones, A.C. (1976). British Independent Airlines since 1946 - Volume 3. Merseyside Aviation Society. ISBN 0-902420-09-7. 
  • British Airways Archives and Museum Collection (1951–1970)
  • Denham, Terry (1996). World Directory of Airliner Crashes. Sparkford: Patrick Stephens Ltd. ISBN 1-85260-554-5. 

External links[edit]