A de Havilland DH16 (pictured) belonging to the British Aircraft Transport & Travel Company (“AT@&T”) took off from Hounslow Heath Aerodrome inaugurating the world’s first regularly scheduled airline service between London and Paris, Le Bourget Airport.

Although situated near to modern-day Heathrow Airport, Hounslow Heath, which started life as a grass airstrip used by the Royal Flying Corps, was soon abandoned in favour of Croydon Airport but despite the urban sprawl around London it was never built on and today exists as a public open space and nature reserve.

Despite problems with bad weather AT&T soon gained a reputation for reliability on this once per day route. In November 1919, it won the first British civil airmail contract operating six DH.9A aircraft Hawkinge (Kent) and Cologne. On 17 May 1920, a DH.16 of AT&T operated the first KLM service between London and Amsterdam.

AT&T was owned by the Aircraft Manufacturing Company Limited (Airco) who built the de Havilland range of aircraft. The DH16 was a 4 seat (plus pilot) passenger version of the Airco DH9A single seat bomber. Nine aircraft were built, eight of which were delivered to AT&T and one sold to the River Plate Aviation Company in Argentina, to operate a cross-river service between Buenos Aires and Montevideo.

In February 1920 Airco was bought by BSA (Birmingham Small Arms) who were already manufacturing Airco de Havilands on a sub contract basis as well as Daimler engines and cars. After a short time operating under its own name AT&T was merged with Daimler Hire Limited to form Daimler Airways Limited.

Category: Historic Events


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