The history of organized air transport begins with the airlines that preceded Imperial Airways. Though not by any means the first of these, the Daimler Airway is a good example because a full set of monthly accounts still exists from which a great deal of information can be extracted to supplement references in the journals and newspapers of the time. It is possible to trace in these accounts the actual effects of changes in government policy on the fortunes of one of the companies receiving grants. On 1 April 1922 the first permanent subsidy scheme for British air transport companies came into operation. From 1919 until February 1921 the new industry had struggled into existence without direct financial aid from government. Only two companies, Handley Page and Intone, survived from this initial period to be revived in March 1921, with a subsidy scheme hurriedly devised by the three-man Cross Channel Subsidies Committee under Lord Londonderry. 1 April 1922 was also the official first operating day of the Daimler Airway, a department of the London car hire firm which was, in turn, a member of the B.S.A. group of companies. The Company had been constituted with rights to fly commercial air services in June 1919. B.S.A. had bought up the parent company of Air Transport and Travel in 1920, but had allowed the airline to continue operations for some months before deciding that the losses were too great to bear. The fact that the group had connections with the earliest air transport company was noted at the luncheon held to celebrate the beginning of Daimlers air activities in April 1922. On this occasion the Secretary of State for Air said that Daimler was the first company to have indicated an expectation of carrying on successful air travel without the aid of subsidy. The Managing Director of Daimler, endorsed this: he thought that the London to Paris service could be operated at a profit with the new subsidy and hoped to show, within a year, that it could be run entirely without subsidy.

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  • Supplemental Notes:
    • Originally published in Journal of Transport History, 1st series, vol. III, no. 4 (1958) pp. 195-200.
  • Corporate Authors:

    Ashgate Publishing Company

    110 Cherry Street, Suite 3-1
    Burlington, VT  United States  05401-3818
  • Authors:
    • Birkhead, E
  • Publication Date: 1996


  • English

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  • Accession Number: 00794171
  • Record Type: Publication
  • ISBN: 1859283004
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Jun 11 2000 12:00AM