In 1946 Hunting Air Travel commenced charter services from Luton, growing quickly to become one of the country’s leading independent airlines. Re-named Hunting Air Transport in 1951 it was now operating from several airports to a wide variety of British and continental destinations.
Hunting-Clan Air Transport came into being in October 1953 with an investment of £500,000 each from the Clan Line and Hunting Group. Other shipping companies would soon follow their lead and optimism, notably Blue Star Lines and Furness Withy, which invested in Airwork, a competitor and future partner.
Hunting-Clan became the first British independent airline to operate state-of-the-art Vickers Viscount turboprop planes. In 1955 it began an ‘Africargo’ service to Rhodesia from its new Heathrow base, and ran co-operative services with Airwork to link up with flights from Africa to the USA.
It continued to be difficult, however, for independent airlines to make profits. Poor financial performance in the late 1950s led to exploratory talks with Airwork as to a potential merger. In 1960 a new Civil Aviation Act offered more opportunities to private enterprise but also sought consolidation within the industry. Merger terms with Airwork were agreed by March 1960 to form British United Airways (BUA), the largest independent in the country and a serious challenger to BEA and BOAC.