Air travel tended to be a rather elite and expensive transport mode as late as the 1950s. British Imperial Airways and KLM transported primarily civil servants and business people to their far-flung colonies, largely sub-Saharan Africa in the case of the former and the Dutch East Indies in the case of the latter. Dierikx reports:

In the 1930s, when intercontinental passenger air transport first became possible, most were senior civil servants and business executives. Together they made up over 70 percent of all European airline passengers. Some 20 percent may have been traveling for pleasure, whereas urgent private journeys and unknown travel motives accounted for 5 percent each.

(Dierikx 2008:32)