The switch from using Berlin Templehof to Berlin Tegel on September 1, 1975 concentrated all the remaining IGS routes at the more distant airport. Although the fleets dedicated to the IGS routes of both Pan Am and British Airways were reduced from their heyday they were still important to both airlines. The 1980s would bring about a rebirth of competition that would challenge the status quo until the reunification of Germany itself made the IGS obsolete.
For the previous part in this series see:
By 1980 the IGS routes were still being served by Pan Am, using its 727-21s, and British Airways, using its One-Eleven 510Eds. Pan Am was looking at replacing its 727s with the larger series 200 Advanced and the airline was able to opportunistically source its first pair from Ozark Airlines. Ozark had acquired a pair of new 727-2D4 Advs configured for 149 passengers and with an added central fuel tank increasing their range to nearly 3,000 miles. Ozark wanted to use the aircraft to fly to the Caribbean, the Bahamas and the US West Coast but during 1980 it was caught out by a 52-day flight attendants strike, which was followed by a mechanics strike.
Pan Am was able to take the pair of 727s off of Ozark’s hands, albeit Ozark apparently made a profit on them. Both aircraft were transferred to the IGS and used to increase capacity on the Berlin-Frankfurt route. Re-registered N361PA and N362PA they became known as ‘Clipper Berlin’ and ‘Clipper Frankfurt’ respectively. Pan Am had 8 of its own 727-221s on order but its financial weakness meant that the order was cancelled, at least initially, only to be restored in 1980. Pan Am had by this time taken over National but none of their 727 fleet was transferred to the IGS.
Even though Pan Am’s new 727-221 Advs began to arrive in December 1981 the airline, now under the command of Ed Acker from Air Florida, decided to acquire used 737-200s on lease to replace the remaining 727-21s. The story of the 737s will be discussed in a separate blog article coming soon.
All sixteen of the 737-200s acquired German Clipper names. The addition of the 737s did at least allow for a major expansion of the IGS fleet and in 1984 Pan Am’s aircraft movements at Tegel increased by 20%. At the same time Pan Am’s German and Central European headquarters moved from Frankfurt to Berlin.
British Airways had themselves not been stagnant with their IGS operations and in 1983 the One-Elevens were replaced with 737-236 Advs meaning that for the first time both Pan Am and BA were operating the same equipment on the routes.
British Airways was joined by a second British airline on an IGS route in January 1984 when Dan Air replaced the French airline TAT in operating the Saarbrücken service. TAT had served the route since 1978. Dan Air used HS748s for the route and was no newbie to Berlin, having already established itself as West Berlin’s leading charter airline. It also flew scheduled services from Berlin to Amsterdam and London Gatwick.
Pan Am appears to have had second-thoughts about the 737s and in 1985 four of them were returned to their lessors. On the plus side they were replaced by something completely new for the IGS – widebodies. In April 1985 Pan Am introduced the first ever wide body on the IGS in the form of the Airbus A310-200 configured with 18 Clipper and 207 economy class seats.
The A310s served Frankfurt, Hamburg, Munich and Stuttgart and increased the daily IGS seating capacity on weekdays by 3342 seats (42.9%). The first four A310-200s gained German Clipper names including ‘Clipper Berlin’ and ‘Clipper Frankfurt’. The two 727-2D4 Advs were assigned new non-German Clipper names suggesting they were not being used on IGS routes at the time.
They utilised a fleet of four 727-31s (the aircraft rotated back to the US at regular intervals) and flew 5 times daily to Frankfurt, three times daily to Hamburg, twice to Nuremberg, twice to Stuttgart and three times to Munich. TWA were the only airline to provide hot meals on their flights but the IGS was not a financial success for them.
From within Europe Air France was keen to reclaim some of its lost market and enterprisingly partnered with Lufthansa, who were still forbidden from operating to Berlin, to create Euroberlin France in a 51:49% partnership (Lufthansa had to be the minority shareholder). Euroberlin France was designed from the off to be a low-cost competitor. Monarch Airlines was hired to provide the aircraft (four 737-300s) and flightdeck crew. Aside from cabin crew everything else was outsourced.
Service began for Euroberlin to Cologne, Frankfurt, Munich and Stuttgart on November 7, 1988. Additional services to Düsseldorf and Hamburg began in 1989 with the fleet increased to five 737-300s.
1989 was of course a momentous year for Berlin as on November 9, 1989 the Berlin Wall was finally breached and events led quickly to the collapse of the East German state, and then German reunification on October 3, 1990. At the time of the breach of the wall West Berlin was being served by the following airlines operating IGS routes:
For the British Airlines serving IGS routes Dan Air ended its lone service to Sarrbrucken at the end of the Summer 1991 schedule. The rest of its charter operations were reduced as its rights to operate in Germany were restricted and it attempted to focus on operations at London Gatwick.
British Airways also faced losing its rights to operate domestically within Germany, since no reciprocal rights existed for German airlines in the UK and Lufthansa, and other German airlines, lobbied for foreign airline operations to be curtailed. It got around the problem by acquiring a 49% share in the the regional airline Delta Air, which became Deutsche BA.
The summer of 1991 was therefore the last in which IGS services were operated by non-German airlines at least until the liberalisation of the European air travel market.
I'm Richard Stretton: a fan of classic airliners and airlines who enjoys exploring their history through my collection of die-cast airliners. If you enjoy the site please donate whatever you can to help keep it running: