Air Anglia began operations as a wholly privately owned airline in August 1970 following the merger of three East Anglian air taxi operators - Rig-Air, Norfolk Airways and Anglian Air Charter. Norwich Airport was chosen as the main operating base with the head office and engineering facilities also being established at the airport.
Although it had been formed as an all charter company, on 7th December 1970 scheduled services began with a Britten-Norman Islander flying from Norwich to Edinburgh and Aberdeen. This paved the way for a network of services in support of the British North Sea oil and gas industry. The largest aircraft in the fleet at formation was the Douglas C-47 and these served until 1974 when a pair of Fokker F-27's were added to coincide with the launch of the first year-round scheduled service to Aberdeen (via Humberside) and Teesside from Norwich. A route to Amsterdam from Norwich was added soon after. The Amsterdam service was soon picking up oil and gas industry business travellers and this didn't go unnoticed by Dutch flag carrier KLM and a joint marketing agreement was soon put in place between the two airlines allowing Air Anglia to offer services to passengers thanks to the vast KLM network.
In addition to the scheduled services Air Anglia offered seasonal summer only services to Jersey from Norwich, Humberside and Aberdeen. The Aberdeen-Jersey service was, at the time, recognised as the UK's longest non-stop flight by a turbo-prop aircraft with a flight time of 2 hours and 45 minutes.
In the years leading up to 1979 additional Fokker F-27's were added together with their first jets, a pair of Fokker F-28's. The additional aircraft allowed a number of new services to be opened - flights to Amsterdam from all existing operating locations together with flights to Paris Orly (via Leeds) and to Stavanger, Bergen and Newcastle from Aberdeen. In 1979 services to Gatwick and Stansted were also added.
On 16th January 1980 Air Anglia merged with Air Wales and Air Westward to form Air UK.
Air Anglia operated three different Heralds - G-ASVO, G-BAVX and G-BCWE although only G-ASVO carried their livery. G-ASVO was initially taken on wet lease from British Midland on 2nd March 1975 to cover the overhaul of a Fokker F-27. The Herald was used to launch Air Anglia's Humberside to Jersey service on 19th April 1975 and was kept on for a year, being returned to British Midland on 27th March 1976. Herald G-BAVX was leased in from British Air Ferries (BAF) to cover for G-ASVO while it was on a check. Following the return of G-ASVO to British Midland, Herald G-BCWE was leased in from British Air Ferries (BAF) from 1st April to 2nd May 1976.
G-ASVO in Air Anglia colours at East Midlands Airport in September 1975. (Photo © Martin Fenner Collection)