Dan Air's scheuled route network in the 1950s was almost none existant! The UK government's Air Transport Licencing Board had been created to oversee all airline route applications. As a department they built up a reputation for actively thwarting the mbitions of UK independant airline's ambitions. made In the 1950s the IT and charter business was in it's infancy. The licencing board (ATLB) considered route licences for scheuled services any trunk route applications would almost certainly be handed out to the state owned and run airlines BOAC and BEA. BOAC (British Overseas Airways Corporation) carried out services to Empire Routes and Intercontinental Services. British European airways (BEA) as the name suggests, was responsible for providing European air transport. The reciprocal arrangements that existed between foreign countries ensured that for every service operated, there would be the option for a local carrier in that country to operate the same service. This would mean that the exact number of flights would be available, with exactly the same air fares. Competition from any third or more operators was actively avoided. Should an independant airline wish to apply for a route that did not exist hitherto, they would have to submit and application to the ATLB. Before the independant could commence service on the route the ATLB would ask the relevant BEA or BOAC if they wanted the route themselves or had any objections to the independant operation the service. This bizarre rule was known as Provision One.
Dan - Air had started operations with ad hoc charters from their base at Southend via Manchester to Shannon. and their sole DC 3 had taken part in the second airlift at Berlin caused by the Soviet blockade in 1954.
If we can step back to a few years before Dan - Air was launched. In 1949 Vladimir Raitz founded Horizon Travel Ltd. After he had received a £3,000 legacy. He immediately ran into obsicles from the ATLB. Tour Operators were heavily regulated and had to apply for licences to operate all flights, even charter ones. The rule 'Provision One' also stipulated that no charter flights could operate on a route that BEA or BOAC already flew. Furthermore it also ruled that flights could only be advertised for a specific group of clilents. Raitz had decided to organise package tours from Gatwick. He submitted his request for a regular charter flight to Corsica. It had been obvious to him that the cost of chartering an aircraft was significantly lower than putting his holidaymakers on a scheduled flight. The ATLB had never had such a request. The subsequent delays were a result of the board not giving his request any priority. Raitz's determination eventually paid off. The ATLB gave him the go ahead to fly a weekly service to Corsica. A further hurdle had to be cleared when Raitz was told by the ATLB insisted he could only sell his holidays to Students and Teachers. He could not sell for less than the cost of the standard scheduled flight. To make the holidays have any appeal at all he offered meals, drinks, transfers, a representative in resort and excursions into the price. Initially Raitz chartered an 11 seat aircraft and flew via Nice for refuelling.the travellers stayed in tents. All of that fro a princely sum of £32.10s. His tours were slow to catch on. One obvious obsticle was that families were excluded from holidaying together. After a few months he began bending the rules and invited student nurses and Doctors. He then extended his offers, without telling the ATLB, to apprentices. This saw a big increase in bookings.
Charters could also be sold as "Closed Charters" This meant that an individual could hire an aircraft for a group of friends and family and a tour operator could organise transfers and hotels. The price of this was not as regulated as normal charters. Normal charters were subject to the Provision One rule.
Dan - Air's emergence in 1953 with a DC3 that had more seats and a larger capacity was to see a relationship with Horizon Travel that would last for three decades. He chartered aircraft from Dan - Air and other companies. Many of the early 1950s airlines did not last, a string of failed start up operators littered the second half of the 50s. Dan - Air, having made the decision to stay in the airline business, grew. Before the decade was over several Tour Operators utilized the airline's ever growing fleet. They had the flexibility to operate from several airports. By 1956 they were flyin out of Manchester as well as their base at Blackbushe. By purchasing ex BEA Ambassadors, Avro York, Bristol Freighter and DH Dove aircraft they had aircraft that could arrange charters for between 11 and 48 people. At the end of the decade they had a fleet of twelve aircraft. More and more of it's flights were operated on behalf of Horizon, flights were more often than not at weekends and late at night. The aircraft were not nearly as modern as their BEA rivals. They were propellor driven. The arrival of the Ambassador improved things. It was pressurised and could fly above bad weather. The early aircraft had numerous technical problems. Cargo flights were popular too. Decisions had been made to strangthen the passenger charter operation in the 1960s Other interesting "Closed Charters" included city day trips to Amsterdam and weekend flights to Ostend. These flights could still not be sold to the public.
May - First scheduled service, from Blackbushe to Jersey started.
BEA freight contract for London Heathrow - Manchester - Glasgow.