East African VP-KPJ
East African Airways Corporation operated the Comet Mk.4. Mk.4s were ordered in August 1958 to compete directly with BOAC on its African routes. Deliveries were on schedule with VP-KPJ being handed over on 25th July 1960 and VP-KPK on 6th September.
The Comets were very successful – they were instrumental in increasing E.A.A. profits from £40,000 during 1959 to £460,683 at the end of 1960. On the strength of these figures a third aircraft was ordered at end of 1960 for delivery in 1962. Registered VP-KRL it was delivered on 10th April of that year.
E.A.A. had strong connections with Britain and offered assistance to 216 Sqd. Transport Command in air-lifting British troops to Aden and Bahrein during the Kuwait crisis.
The mainstay of E.A.A. operations were daily flights from London to Johannesburg. Unfortunately in October 1963 the flights were suspended because of mounting political pressure.
This was a period of rapid change on the African continent particularly as Britain accelerated the rate at which independence was granted to former colonies. For example, when Kenya and Zanzibar became independent their flags were added to E.A.A. fin in recognition of their new status. Eventually four countries were to have an interest in the airline and the flags of Tanganyika and Uganda were added to E.A.A lion emblem on the fin.
Utilization rates were good and the original two Comet 4s were regularly averaging between 7 and 8 hours a day.
But gradually the group began to split up. The first to leave was Zanzibar when in 1964, following a revolution, the Republic of Tanzania was created. Thing moved rapidly on this front and in January 1965 the registrations of the remaining participants were re-located to the respective countries.
Because of this change VP-KPJ was re-register 5X-AAO (Uganda) and VP-KPK was re-registered 5H-AAF (Tanzania). VP-KRL became 5Y-AAA and became the nucleus of the Kenya division.
E.A.A. continued to operate collectively and in October 1965 the airline adopted a new livery – the word ‘Airways’ dropped. Utilization rates were good and in October 1965 it was realized that another aircraft was needed. Rather than purchase E.A. leased the Comet 4 G-APDL from BOAC and re-registered the aircraft 5Y-ADD for the period of the 18 month lease.
After the acquisition of the additional aircraft the following year (1966) saw utilization reach a peak of 11 hours/day and by the end of 1966 Comets had accumulated 57,370 hours.
Gradually the aircraft were being superseded by VC-10s.and the last Comets were used on the India and Pakistan routes in November 1967. This was not the end of the Comets though as far as E.A. were concerned. One aircraft was returned to de Havilland for modification in 1967 and another similarly in 1968. The modified Comets were to be allocated to SKAT (Seychelles-Kilimanjaro Air transport) which had been formed in 1960, as a subsidiary of E.A.A, to operate long-haul charter flights.
In the late 1960s 5X-AAO and 5H-AAF (KPK) were withdrawn from service because of corrosion problems. 5Y-AAA continued to operate but with the loss of the other two Comets it was necessary to take another aircraft on a short term lease. Approaches were made to Dan-Air and this led to G-APDK being re-registered 5Y-ALD for E.A. use. It retained, however, most of it’s Dan-Air livery. This lease expired in March 1970 and ‘ALD was returned during that month.
It was immediately replaced by G-APDE which E.A. had obtained on a longer lease (9 months) – ‘DE was re-registered 5Y-ALF. This aircraft was finished in E.A. livery. The arrangements with Dan-Air continued with 5Y-ALF being returned at end of its lease and being replaced by 5Y-AMT (previously the much travelled G-APDD) but as it was a short-term, two month lease and so the livery was little changed.
As far as E.A’s own aircraft were concerned all the Comets were disposed of by May 1969 and E.A. as an airline split up in 1977.