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Internal Airmail Rates 1919-48

The Post Office began to make use of air transport as part of its normal operations from the 1930s, and it has been a key part of the routing network in more recent times. Unlike many other countries, however, as a general rule they have not made any extra charge for the use of air carriage internally. The few exceptions have mostly been for mail between Great Britain and Ireland, although other emergency and/or experimental services have been tried.

As there is little or no connection between the various services involved, they have been listed separately below. Only official services with air rates visible on the covers are included (so for example the 1911 Aerial Post does not count!).

Railway Strike Emergency Service, 1919


Posted 4th October, carried on last Newcastle to London flight 5th October
3oz letter – 1½d normal postage (up to 4oz) + 6s triple airmail fee

The national railway strike of 1919 lasted from midnight 26-27th September until 5th October. It severely affected the post as a high proportion of mail was carried by rail.

On the 28th parcel post was suspended except for local deliveries, and an emergency air service was set up, which operated between London and five major cities for the first six days of October 1919.

2007 letters were carried to London and 1289 from London to other cities.

From To Rate and Route
1919
(1 Oct)
1919
(6 Oct)
London to/from Birmingham, Bristol, Glasgow, Manchester, Newcastle
2s per oz + ordinary postage

Services between Belfast and Liverpool, 1924 and 1928

These were surcharge services that operated for short periods in the 1920s.

From To Rate and Route
1924
(1 May)
early
Jun
Belfast to Liverpool (only), ½d per 2oz + ordinary postage
1928
(24 Sep)
1928
(6 Oct)
Belfast to Liverpool and Liverpool to Belfast, 1d per 2oz + ordinary postage

Railway Air Services, 1934

This was a semi-private experimental service by contract with an air company. Airmail services were provided on routes linking London, Birmingham, Manchester, Douglas, Belfast, Glasgow, Liverpool, Cardiff, Plymouth, Bristol, Southampton, and Cowes. The rates were the same as ordinary mail except for letters over 2oz in weight.

Most of these services were suspended on 29th September, and the contract ended on 30th November.

From To Letters Postcards
1934
(20 Aug)
1934
(30 Nov)
1½d - 2oz
Each additional 1oz - 1d
1d

Surcharge Services between Great Britain and Ireland, 1941-48


1946: Victory 3d for basic air fee uprating registered envelope to Dublin
2½d surface postage (inland rate applied to Eire) + 3d registration

An air service was introduced in 1941 with flights every weekday between Liverpool and Belfast (in both directions) and from Glasgow to Belfast (as the opposite direction would not have offered any benefit).

The stated speedup was between 6 and 24 hours, and packets required a blue airmail label. The extra fee and label were no longer required from 1947.

The new service was not available for correspondence to the Irish Republic, but a similar one was introduced between Liverpool and Dublin in 1946 and this lasted until 1948 when "all-up" service was introduced for most European destinations.

These were surcharge services – in all cases the fees below were added to surface postage at the normal inland rate and weight scale.

Britain to/from Northern Ireland
Date Air Fee
1941
(1 Sep)[*]
3d per 8oz
1947
(17 Feb)
2d - 2oz
3d - 8oz
Each extra 8oz - 3d
1947
(29 Sep)
Air fee no longer required
Britain to/from Irish Republic
Date Air Fee
1946
(14 Jan)
3d per 8oz
1947
(8 Apr)
2d - 2oz
3d - 8oz
Each extra 8oz - 3d
1948
(1 Jul)
Air fee no longer required

[*] Mail was accepted in GB for the service on 30-31 August