In the 1980s and 90s the A300 was a common sight operating trunk leisure routes during the charter peak, before low-cost airlines and the internet impacted the inclusive tour market. The big Airbus could be seen operating for Air Alfa, Air Charter, Air Scandic, Akdeniz Airlines, Conair, Condor Flugdienst, Hapag Lloyd, Holiday Airlines, Kar Air, Laker Airways, Onur Air, Orion Airways, Scanair, Sultan Air and Translift/Trans Aer as well as the national carrier scheduled arms of Air France, Air Inter, Alitalia, Iberia, Lufthansa, Olympic etc. Monarch Airlines of the UK was one of few to buy the newer more capable A300-600R. The sheer size of the IT market from the UK and Germany made sure that A300s were common people movers from charter heavy airports like Gatwick and Dusseldorf.
Two other A300 charter operators of the A300 were Bavaria Germanair and Dan Air London, both of whom utilised cn 12. She was originally destined for Iberia but wasn't taken up and instead found herself delivered on May 23, 1975 as the first of 3 A300s to Germanair. She was registered as D-AMAX and named 'Maximilian'. She was also the first ever Airbus aircraft registered in Germany.
Germanair had started operations as Sud-Westflug in 1966 before changing its name to Germanair two years later. Operating BAC One-Elevens, by the early 1970s, the airline became associated with the older Bavaria Fluggesellschaft, itself another One-Eleven operator, in 1974 when the owner of the former, Josef Schorghuber, acquired 76% of the latter's shares. Both airlines kept their separate identities at first but streamlined maintenance and administration. By the summer of 1975, just prior to the arrival of the A300s, the combined fleet stood at 2 F28s and 11 One-Elevens. The combined operation was the second largest charter organisation in Germany (behind Condor I assume) and a second A300B4, D-AMAY, arrived in December 1975, followed by D-AMAZ in May 1977.
By the time of the third A300 the two components of the group had been combined and they formed Bavaria Germanair on March 1, 1977. Total passenger traffic in 1977 rose to 1,171,242 passengers mainly operating from Dusseldorf, Frankfurt and Munich. The new merged airline was however to be short-lived as in the same year Hapag Lloyd took a 100% stake in the carrier. They were only able to merge it into their own operations in January 1979 following a lengthy investigation by the German government into the takeover. By then Bavaria Germanair was operating 4 A300s having also acquired the first A300B4 built from Air France in February 1978.
Hapag Lloyd took all 4 of the A300s into its fleet and they saw about 7 years further service. Both of the oldest machines moved to Dan Air London. One other aircraft (D-AHLJ) was leased from Hapag Lloyd in April 1986 and returned in December to be replaced by D-AMAP, which became G-BNMB. The other came via Guinness Peat Aviation in August 1988 and was the former D-AMAX which became G-BMNC.
Dan Air had never operated widebody aircraft before and was facing challenges in the charter market. It had been a firm believer in buying older aircraft and operating them cheaply, and was famous in the 1970s for operating a large fleet of Comet 4s when everyone else was using One-Elevens and 737s. By the 1980s however this policy was not working anymore and its fleet was made up of mainly older BAC One-Elevens and 727s, which were less attractive to the holiday companies that booked its capacity and increasingly also were creating their own in-house airlines.
The A300s were to be used on Dan Air's trunk charter routes to the likes of Corfu, Faro and Palma. I recall my sister catching one for a ski charter to Zurich also. Unfortunately for Dan Air the A300s coincided with a decrease in their contracted flying which the fleet modernisation didn't stop. The losses continued to mount and the A300s were returned. G-BMNC operated her last service in October 1990.
From there cn 12 moved to France to be operated by Air France's domestic arm Air Inter as F-GIJU. In June 1995 she served a lease to Holiday Air for a month. In April 1996 she joined the Irish charter airline Translift Airways as EI-TLB and operated routes like Manchester-Malaga. Whilst with Translift she operated a short lease to Air Maldives and three separate leases to Sabena's charter arm Sobelair. Translift became TransAer on May 1, 1997 and following her last lease to Sobelair in September 1999 she was sold to Channel Express for spares and broken up at Bournemouth.
That brought to an end over 24 years of servicing the needs of sunseekers and some of Europe's most important charter airlines.
For other blog entries charting the history of a particular airframe see:
Hengi, B.I. Airlines Remembered. Midland Publishing
Vomhof, Klaus. Leisure Airlines of Europe. Scoval
Dan Air Remembered.com
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: