That wasn’t always the case though and from the 1960s as Europe finally regained its affluence following the Second World War into the early 2000s Charter airlines came and went regularly. It always seemed like a low margin operating environment and many airlines were put to the sword due to insufficient capital to ride out economic downturns (to which people’s holiday plans were always highly susceptible) or the seasonal ups and downs of ‘fun in the sun’.
Charter airlines in Europe began operations usually with relatively new secondhand piston liners (mainly DC-6s and DC-7s) in the early 1960s but quickly graduated to early jets (Caravelles and DC-8s). By the 1980s Boeing 727s, 737-200s and Douglas DC-9s were the staples with Airbus A320s and Boeing 757s taking most of the strain into the 1990s.
In my collection I’ve always collected British charter airlines, although even here the available range is poor. The UK to Mediterranean (especially Spain) market was always dominated by British airlines and only rivalled in size by German operations. I have until recently ignored other European charter airlines however but have now decided to begin collecting a representative sample of these also. It is these non-British Euro charter airlines that this post will focus on.
Once again without Aeroclassics there wouldn’t be a lot to collect and even so there is still a relatively thin selection of available models. It certainly doesn’t help that there are no 737-300, 757-200 or MD-80 moulds regularly used for European subjects. Nonetheless Aeroclassics has been making a number of interesting European leisure airlines of recent and of the 10 models I have picked up in the past few months 9 are from Aeroclassics.
Currently these represent some of the bigger names in charters in the classic period – carriers like Hapag Lloyd, Spantax, Transavia and Sterling. Also present are airlines that were important for shorter periods like Sudflug, Minerve and Bavaria Germanair. Lastly a couple of scheduled operators that flew charters like Braathens S.A.F.E and Air Inter also make the grade. I have in addition for sometime had a few aircraft from Lufthansa’s charter subsidiary Condor Flugdienst.
The geographic spread is obviously from northern Europe (Germany 4, France 2, Scandinavia 2) with only one airline from a Mediterranean coast destination (yes I know France has a Med coast too). This mirrors the dominance of the home market airlines in the charter scene, although there are significant Spanish and Italian charter airlines yet to join the fleet.
KLAUS VOMHOF'S LEISURE AIRLINES OF EUROPE
The layout of the book is unusual in that the left page is always a selection of colour photos usually in synch with the airline related text of the right side page. The histories are quite good and the range of photos excellent too, however the photos are uncaptioned and often don’t really relate to the text except in general terms.
Mr Vomhof has also almost outdone himself by not just including charter airlines but also scheduled carriers that operated charters. This makes the book a lot larger but also means it loses some focus. For example sometimes you get entries for airlines like Olympic that you hardly need them for and if these types of airlines were excluded it might allow more space to dedicate to the more obscure airlines that are more interesting in this type of work. Anyway these criticisms are minor and the book is an excellent resource and highly recommended.
Anyway looking through the pages of the book it is easy to pickout attractive and/or historically important charter airlines and aircraft combos that are not yet represented in 1:400 scale. Here is a short list of what I consider the most important missing models. I have only included options where a mould is available. I am sure there are lots of other contenders too:
I'm Richard Stretton: a fan of 1/400 scale model aircraft and airports. This blog reports work on my model airport dioramas and discussion of the model manufacturers output.