Managing the seasonal nature of the charter airline business has historically led to several airlines switching capacity across the Atlantic in the Winter with lease agreements whereby their aircraft get a winter in North America and a summer back in the UK. Air Europe had such an agreement with Air Florida between 1980/81 and 1982/83 but the failure of the American airline led to a more unusual arrangement with the British flag carrier that not only saw Air Europe swap aircraft but also acquire its first 757s from British Airways order backlog.
I recently posted about Aer Lingus and its short usage of the 767-300 but it wasn't alone in the British Isles in utilising the type during the 1990s for a short period. As with Aer Lingus the arrival of a 767 at Virgin Atlantic was directly related to a specific route but in this case, unlike the Irish example, Virgin got exactly what it needed at the right time. The 767-300 was never intended as a test but served exclusively as a stopgap. Even so, it got the full livery treatment and is once again an interesting what-if version.
The UK charter airline scene at the dawn of the 1990s was dominated by the BAC One-Eleven, Boeing 737-200 and 757-200. The 737-300 has seen a decent take-up by airlines, such as Dan Air, Monarch and Orion, but was quickly usurped by larger 757s or the new kid on the block the Airbus A320. When an airline needed lower capacity than the 757 it was the A320 they usually fell back on and Air 2000, one of the most successful UK charter carriers of the time, was no expection.
IGS operations had been a close battle between Pan Am and BEA, with Air France always a distant third, despite their Caravelle service to Tegel. Flying into Templehof was what mattered and Pan Am had managed to counter the introduction of turboprop Viscounts with frequency and the lower costs of the DC-6Bs. 1966 would see Pan Am turn the tables as it introduced the first regular jet service into Templehof on IGS routes.
Lockheed's L-1011 Tristar had a long, complicated and varied career with British Airways, and its charter arm British Airtours (later Caledonian Airways). They also had an equally complicated ordering process. Despite, at least initially, lacking the range for longer routes the full-length Tristars served BA well and were at the forefront of making it ‘The World’s Favourite Airline’ during the 1980s.
Nothing has changed the face of aviation in the last 25 years as much as the advent of low-cost carriers. Pioneered in the US, with PSA and Southwest, it wasn’t until the advent of the internet that the premise could really take-off. Combined with deregulation of the EU area it has been Europe that has led the transformation, and of course it is Ryanair and Easyjet that have dominated the continent.
The Eastern Air Lines shuttle was a pioneering idea in the busy US North-east market offering no-reservation guaranteed seat service between the super busy business destinations of New York, Washington and Boston. There are few markets that can support such a concept but travel from the UK regions to the London Heathrow was always a good contender. In 1975 the new British Airways decided to see if it could replicate the massive success of Eastern’s shuttle in the UK.
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: