Horse & Jockey

A new company, Eagle Airways, was established to run the few scheduled services that were now possible, with Eagle Aviation operating charters and trooping flights. In 1953, services between London and Belgrade and later London to Aalborg and Gothenburg were launched. The airline’s advertising for its twice-weekly Scandinavian operation featured the reigning Miss Sweden.

 

Eagle had by now acquired a fleet of Vickers Vikings. “I had 22,” Bamberg recalled. “I bought 37 from BEA and sold the other 15 to other operators.” But he now needed to find work for them to do. “In 1954,” he recalled, “we persuaded the Ministry of Aviation about a concept we called the ‘jockey and the horse’: the travel agent was the jockey and the horse was the airline.” Permission was eventually given for a limited programme but Bamberg was rebuffed when he tried to find a suitable ‘jockey’. Thomas Cook was “not interested in low-cost air travel,” so Bamberg bought Sir Henry Lunn Ltd, later combining it with Poly Travel to form Lunn-Poly.

 

“There was a licensing system introduced in the low-fare element,” Bamberg recalled. “In other words, it was the package holiday business which we innovated.” He wasn’t the only operator to make a similar a claim but travel writer Roger Bray commented: “It’s always been a moot point about what is a package holiday but Bamberg was probably the first to combine the roles of tour operator and airline under one roof.”

 

The first flights were to Italy and Spain – “we knew them well from our early operations” – and advertised as tours under the names of Treasures of Italy and Castles in Spain. “They were very tiring but the clients loved them.” Majorca was added later.

 

Soon, holidays were available on the never-never. Hire purchase facilities offered by Lunn made buying travel, according to Bamberg’s publicity, “as easy as buying a radio set on credit.”