Gordon Pirie
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Route organisation
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Sir Samuel Hoare's lecture confirmed that the two trunk routes to South Africa and Australia remained centrepieces of the Empire airway master plan. After the R101 debacle, the Air Ministry, Sir Eric Geddes and Woods Humphery took for granted that a British airline headquartered in the imperial capital would operate the principal trunk service in the Empire. Airshipping made the first breakthrough in Britain's organised Empire aviation in the 1930s. Acceptance could have had dire consequences for the organisation and for Empire aviation. Without airship competition, Imperial Airways had the intercontinental Empire trunk routes to itself from 1931 onward. Dangling the carrot of managerial democracy was one way to smooth the path for a British monopoly on imperial routes. Whereas the strategy had a chance of working in the Empire, unfortunately it was impossible to apply on Empire air-route stages closest to London.

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Air empire

British imperial civil aviation, 1919–39


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