In the 1950's and 1960's, there were vehicle (and passenger) air ferries operated by planes such as the Bristol Freighter. Mostly across the English Channel (England to France), by companies like Silver City Airways and Channel Air Bridge. In other words, your car travelled with you on the same plane.

On that route, sea ferries (and hovercraft) eventually killed them off financially.

Do similar scheduled air ferries, for civilian cars and their passengers, still exist anywhere in the world? If not, why? Is the reason just financial, or are there no suitable planes any more, or did new safety or security rules make it impossible to operate them?

They would seem well suited to short hops like the Scottish islands, islands off British Columbia or Alaska, Indonesia, the Caribbean islands, and so on. Especially in locations where the sea crossing is rough and unreliable.

  • $\begingroup$ Does this count? youtube.com/watch?v=IBu7mU1yi9g $\endgroup$
    – Jae Carr
    Commented May 11, 2014 at 4:56
  • $\begingroup$ My first flight ever, age a few weeks, was on such a service. $\endgroup$
    – Rich
    Commented Apr 15 at 20:19

2 Answers 2


There are a number of suitable airplanes - C-130 Hercules, C-17 Globemaster, C-5 Galaxy, AN-124, up to the rather monstrous An-225 Mriya. Cargo versions of airliners don't usually handle vehicles - they are designed for palletized cargo while the above cargo planes have ground-level ramps.

If you want to fly with your car somewhere it's just a matter of calling someone who owns one of these airplanes and putting down your no-limit credit card.

As you surmised, the reasons they don't operate scheduled service is financial - boats are much cheaper, and not enough people want to go where a boat is impractical.

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ or people who would use such a service would just get a second car at the destination, much cheaper in the long run $\endgroup$ Commented May 11, 2014 at 13:03
  • $\begingroup$ The people that participate in Gumball 3000 certainly have the money (and the cars) to pull such a stunt off: uniquelytoronto.wordpress.com/2014/01/09/… $\endgroup$
    – dougk_ff7
    Commented May 13, 2014 at 23:59
  • $\begingroup$ It's also worth pointing out that the specific route above (England<-->France over the English Channel) has been largely superseded by the Channel Tunnel (and EuroTunnel trains that will happily take you and your car back and forth in less than an hour). That's tough for an air carrier to compete with on both time and cost... $\endgroup$
    – voretaq7
    Commented May 15, 2014 at 17:49

To answer the question directly: No, there are no scheduled automobile ferrys at this time. Can certain aircraft carry something the size and weight of a car? Of course, see other replies here for a list of some of the planes with this capability. Why not? The answer is, as you suspect, financial. In most circumstances it is cheaper to buy or rent a vehicle where you need one.


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