The decade started with the introduction of a new aircraft type. The Boeing 737 joined the fleet. Several years after Fred Newman had resisted attempts to force him to obtain the twin jet, the Tour Operator Thomas Cook managed to get the carrier to order them. One of our Pilot contribitors told us
"Thomas Cook was one of Dan-Air's largest customers and it was an incredibly successful partnership. But every winter the same thing happened. Tour Operators played a 'you win some you lose some' game. They had to make sure they had enough availability on popular destinations as well as trying to get passengers to try new destinations. Some of the 1-11s did not have an adequate range for up and coming resorts. The 727s did, but they cost a lot to fly. There was no aircraft that had the range and the correct capacity. The other problem was that Thomas Cook's market research had noticed that Dan-Air was scoring badly on some of their aircraft. Obviously the Comet would have scored badly, but they were gone by now. Each year Tour Operators barter with how much they are willing to pay for time chartering, which is where the Tour Operator basically hires an aircraft for the whole period and uses it exclusively for themselves. Thomas Cook used to do that. They came to us and practically demanded that we obtain more modern aircraft. They even helped get the finance through Midland Bank who were the owners of Thomas Cook."
The Boeing 737 was two years old and obtained through Guinness Peat Leasing. Its previous owner, Maersk Air had configured the aircraft with 140 seats. In keeping with Thomas Cook's requirements, the aircraft would lose ten seats as well as being repainted in Dan-Air's new livery at Lasham. Shortly after their purchase, one of the aircraft was leased to Nigeria Airways. It would return in January 1981 for services from Gatwick.
The flagship Boeing 727 fleet was upgraded with the introduction of two Boeing 727 200 series in March with more to be added in April. The 200 was a much improved version of the 727 with increased seating. The 727 200 could carry 189 passengers. At the same time the carrier announced that they would be introducing a new red white and blue livery in time for the summer. As each aircraft underwent its regular maintainence they would also undergo a cabin makeover. The new look would see overhead luggage lockers on aircraft instead of hat racks. All aircraft would have new carpets, lighting, seating, galleys and a fresh new bulkhead and wall design. The new look would make each aircraft look lighter and give a 'wide bodied' feel. The cost was estimated at being more than £1 million.. The four remaining Comet aircraft were retired by November On October 17th G-BDIX flew from Gatwick to Hamburg and G-BDIW became the last commercial Comet flight on October 31st on a service from Gatwick to Frankfurt. November 9th saw the final ever Comet flight, especially chartered by aviation enthusiasts for a flight from Gatwick, returning an hour later. Twenty HS748s and two Vickers Viscounts worked on scheduled low and medium density routes and the 748 in particular worked at full utilisation on on the oil industry charters. The Governments of the UK and Ireland signed an Anglo Irish Bilateral Agreement which allows greater liberalisation of air travel between the two countries. Something Dan-Air would take advantage of. Lower fares were introduced which broke the cartel that legacy carriers had over fares in Europe. These included Spouse Fares - Super Saver - Excursion Fares - Latesaver and and Last Minute Fares.
Dan-Air applied to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to offer Advance Purchase Excursion Fares (APEX) on its Aberdeen-Gatwick service. This would see the return fare being as low as £38 return. The Newcastle-Dublin service was launched in April with fares as low as £69 return. The number of airports serving the Isle of Man was reduced to nine. They were able to offer 20% reductions off season. The CAA then imposed an increase in fares of 28% which was a blow. To counter balance this Dan-Air offered half price tickets on husbands and wives of business travellers. The increase in fares led to a barrage of critisism from travel agents for not giving add on discounts. The airline said it would look at fare structures with a view to including them. The standard fare from Bristol and Cardiff was £114 return. The travel agents said the public wouldn't pay the fare. The agents suggested a fare of £78. by June Dan-Air had negotiated with the CAA and were approved to offer Latesaver fares. The Latesaver could only be purchased after 1pm on the day before travel. the fare from Belfast to Newcastle would be £22 single. To Cardiff or Bristol £27. Dan-Air linked up with Europcar and offered flights to Strasbourg including car hire for £135:50 and Cork from Bristol/Cardiff with car hire for £117:50. The flights would be using BAC 1-11 aircraft. Prices from the UK to Ireland were notoriously expensive. It was Dan-Air's hope that they could break the stranglehold. The link between the two countries had always been an exceptionally busy one. The two nations are important trading partners. With a Conservative government there would be less restriction on competition and protectionism of the state owned airline. As it stood, by far the cheapest way to cross the Irish sea was by ferry. Aberdeen-Gatwick was extended to include Plymouth and was deemed successful from the start. the connections that Dan-Air provided from Aberdeen into Gatwick for British Caledonian was improved with other flights connecting Pan Am and Delta flights to New York Houston and Atlanta. Liverpool had not been served by Dan-Air for scheduled flights since 1976. In July they stationed a Hawker Siddeley 748 permanently at Speke to carry out late night mail flights. The airport was seeking cargo flights so the aircraft wouldn't be standing idle during the day. Cathederal Tours in Liverpool found use for the 748 when it chartered it for one night breaks in Amsterdam.
The local Tyneside Council paid Dan-Air £25,000 to subsidise some of its Norwegian flights from Newcastle. The council wanted to keep exactly the same flights as the previous years. The costs in the UK for hotels and currency exchange problems had led to a fall in business. The Tyneside tourism chiefs were keen to attract more visitors. Dan-Air had asked for £40,000 to continue and said they would refuse any offer of less. In the end Dan-Air did accept the offer and agreed to keep the flights.Captain Yvonne Sintes, the first woman Captain in the UK retired this year. She would be missed.
Dan-Air increased the frequency of flights between Gatwick and Aberdeen, The Latesaver fares would be introduced on Channel Islands routes with proces to Jersey from Gatwick from as little as £24. Since taking the Aberdeen-Gatwick service from BA last year Dan-Air had doubled the amount of pasengers carried. In August alone they flew more than 5,000 people on the route. It had even brought passengers from BA's Aberdeen-Heathrow. To combat this British Airways said they would match Dan-Air's prices. On August 23rd Dan-Air sought approval to introduce Latesaver fares on flights to Amsterdam and Paris. In September Dan-Air announced it was going to reduce fares on domestic services with fares being up to £23 cheaper than before. An additional daily flight each way on the Gatwick-Aberdeen route began in October. The route would offer day return tickets for £88 return which was £15 cheaper than a standard return. British Airways declared a fare war on Dan-Air reducing fares from Newcastle to London Heathrow from £42 to £21 on certain off peak flights with standby flights cut from £27 to £18. Dan-Air operated into Gatwick from Newcastle and responded by reducing its fares to £22 on all flights. The two airlines went against each other on the Aberdeen-London service with fares slashed. Dan-Air's latesaver was popular because your seat was confirmed. BA's standby did not guarantee a flight.
The Scheduled services that were carried out on major UK cities would be flown using BAC 1-11 200 and 300 series aircraft. Each one had reduced their seating capacity to 79, a loss of ten seats. This gave the carrier the chance to boast of unprecidented leg room on their jet flights.
Following the HS748 accident in 1979, 200 witnesses were called to attend an inquiry at Aberdeen's number one Sherriff's Court. Those called would be representetives from Dan-Air, British Aerospace, Sumburgh Airport and members of the public. Passengers and crew who had servived would also give evidence. The two week hearing heard that the Pilot had given approval for the co-pilot to take off the aircraft. Technically he was qualified to do so. Dan-Air's own internal ruling was that only first officers with more than 100 hours could take off. The first officer did not have the hours. It was noted that during take off that the 'gust lock' was engaged. The mechanism prevents parts such as rudders, flaps etc moving when the aircraft was idle. This turned out to be one of the reasons the aircraft failed to become airborne. Whilst engaged, the pilot could not move the colulm to llift the aircraft from the ground.
At this dreadful time, Dan-Air was in the spotlight for the wrong reasons. An even darker period followed on April 25th when a company Boeing 727 100 (G-BDAN) crashed with the loss of all 138 passengers and 8 crew on board. The accident occured when the aircraft flew into a mountain in Tenerife. It remains the worst accident on the UK register in terms of lives lost. Full details.
David Mellor, the MP made claims about Dan-Air having the worst safety record in the UK or any comparable European airline. The Minister concerned Jon Nott, rebuked him stating that Dan-Air was fully regulated by the CAA.
Following the loss of several aircraft and lives the CAA examines the company in depth. Nothing untoward is reported and the airline flies on. In August this year the company introduces 'Daysaver' fares in a further attempt to increase revenue and passenger numbers on it's scheduled network.
The end of year profits were shown in April turnover had risen from £117,505,000 to £129,487,000 whilst pre tax profits were up from £2,357,000 to £3,625,000 after tax profits were up from £1,807,000 to £3,561,000 this was most favourable. There was also an insurance surplus on the 727 that had been lost in Tenerife. Some of the heavy taxes that had been in place in the last few years had began to be reduced or abolished entirely. This was to be important to the airline's growth.
The new fares were in place by September. The Gatwick-Aberdeen service in increased to three times daily. Newcastle-Gatwick which had previously only operated weekdays, now added Saturday and Sunday to its timetable. There is a new Government in the UK and it announces that British Airways will soon be privatised. This causes anxiety amongst the UK charter and scheduled airlines. BA would now be free to use its muscle with new funding to crush opposition. However the UK Government breaks a cartell on the London-Hong Kong service by allowing British Caledonian and Laker on the route - British Airways is furious. Laker Airways applies for several new European services that it says it will operate in the same manner as the transatlantic routes. Almost immediately the applications are rejected.The number of passengers carried this year is down for the second consecutive year. The number was still substantial with 3,510,000 sector passengers. That was more than any other British airline with the exception of the state owned British Airways. The fifteen strong 1-11 fleet, they would also be fitted with Hush Kits to help with engine noise pollution. The cost was estimated to be in the region of £1,000,000.
- Newcastle - Belfast - April 1st - (Taken over from Bristish Airways)
- Dublin - Newcastle - April 1st - (Taken over from British Airways)
- Dublin - Bristol - April 1st - (Taken over from British Airways)
- Dublin - Cardiff - April 1st - (Taken over from British Airways)
- Bristol - Jersey - April 1st - (Taken over from British Airways)
- Cardif - Jersey - April 1st - (Taken over from British Airways)
- Bristol - Guernsey - April 1st - (Taken over from British Airways)
- Cardiff - Guernsey - April 1st - (Taken over from British Airways)
- Leeds/Bradford - Guernsey - April 1st - (Taken over from British Airways)
- Bristol - Paris - April 1st - (Taken over from British Airways)
- Cardiff - Paris - April 1st - (Taken over from British Airways)
- Gatwick - Munich - May 1st
- Berlin (Tegal) - Amsterdam - Rights granted.
- Gatwick - Cork - Approved
NETWORK & PRESS 1980
Dan-Air announced on 23rd January that the Link City Service, which had been operating for many years between Newcastle/Manchester/Cardiff/Birmingham/Bournemouth would close. Management said that it was not profitable. The company stated the bus stop service would cease on March 31. Dan-Air management were looking critically at all of their routes, with a view to trimming services that didn't make a profit. Airport officials and Newcastle Council wanted to save the service in view of what was considered an inadequate train service from Newcastle to the areas Dan-Air served. The deal between Europcar and Dan-Air continued to thrive. Several destinations were added to the programme. With reduced air fares and reduced car hire rates, the whole concept was attractive. The new livery that Dan-Air was steadily applying to all its new aircraft began to appear on publicity items and other corporate products. The vapour swish appeared for the first time as Dan-Air declared 'Fly into the 80s' As British Airways dropped one of its seven daily services from Aberdeen to Heathrow Dan-Air increased theirs to four a day from Aberdeen to Gatwick with a second each way service on weekend days.
Dan-Air made the record books, and secured a small piece of history when the airline commenced services between West Berlin and Amsterdam. It was the first time an airline operated a service between two common market countries without touching the airline's country of origin. Dan-Air would operate the service twice daily. Tom Hill Holidays, a small, Manchester based travel agent took a gamble chartering a Dan-Air BAC 1-11 for weekly flights to Palma. The firm had a newspaper campaign to sell its holidays and the gamble paid off. The 1-11 flew from Manchester full every week. Dan-Air planned more scheduled flights, but warned of higher costs. A 10 per cent increase was likely on the London-Newcastle route but a flexible super saver was available on the route costing £26 single with no Saturday restrictions. All the services from Newcastle were flown by jet and extra flights would operate to Belfast. A new Tees Side-Dublin route was to start immediately, operating three times a week, and a bigger programme of flights to Jersey and Guernsey would begin in March. "We are seeking a 10 per cent increase from April Ist on the Birmingham, Bournemouth-Cardiff, Bristol, Manchester and Newcastle routes, but fares were reduced in winter 1980 and most services will be charged at lower rate than those for last Summer. This moans that we have held fares for two years despite big increases in fuel, airport and landing charges. Many of our domestic air fares are now highly competitive with British Rail.' Said the Dan-Air spokesman.
Airports operated by the British Airports Authority (BAA) announced in late March that they would be increasing fees by 15%. The state owned airport group included Aberdeen, Gatwick, Heathrow, Stanstead, Glasgow, Edinburgh, and Prestwick. Most of the airlines concerned were furious at the charge as they were constantly under pressure to reduce fares and deal with heavy fuel price hikes. The BAA said that they had reduced the increase from a planned 20%. This did nothing to make Dan-Air, Air UK, British Midland, Alidair and Loganair. In March Dan-Air Engineering went on strike in Manchester in a row over pay. Their three week pay stoppage was solved on 6th April with a pay settlement of between 7-10%.
Meanwhile in April the airline offered free flights for anyone purchasing a full fare ticket on their Aberdeen-Gatwick service. The voucher was transferable to other people. This was a clever response when Dan-Air was deemed to have broken sex descrimination rules by offering half price tickets to the husbands and wives of business travellers. It came the same time that the company reduced fares on the Newcastle-Gatwick service. The new price was £88 return. This was £8 cheaper than BA's service to Heathrow.
The UK economy was still plagued with recession in 1981. Dan-Air was to feel its effect, they announced that pre-tax profits had fell 30.4% to £2.350,000 in 1980 on turnover up from £129,409.000 to £153,800,000. Interest payable jumped almost one and a half times to £1,840.000. Chairman Mr. Fred Newman said the results ’Should be considered satisfactory in view of all the problems suffered On the aviation industry'. Newman went on to say, 'Activity the first quarter was lower, but the fleet is fully committed during the summer months'. Finally, he said 'I am confident that the effects of the recession , but I feel it only wise to make a cautionary note with regard to the current year.'
Overall, it had been a good year for Dan-Air with the fleet fully committed for the year and substantial investment in new aircraft.
In May, five passengers from the Sumburgh air crash of 1979 issued a writ to the high court in London for loss of earnings, injury, general loss and expenses. The amount was not disclosed. Their solicitor said 'Their injury's were the result of negligence by Dan-Air, their servants or agents'. This was in addition to the four individuals who were suing Dan-Air under the carriage of persons by air act of 1967. It was expected to take a year before the court would convene. In October it was revealed that the group were looking at more than £1m in compensation.
In May Dan-Air applied to the CAA for permission to fly scheduled services from Aberdeen to Kirkwall, Sumburgh and Scatsa. They would fly daily using HS 748 aircraft and significantly under cut the fares offered by British Airways. On 6th June Dan-Air began flilghts from Newcastle to Aberdeen using the HS 748 with fares from £22 standby. Dan-Air would be operating the flights under license from Air UK who had rights on the route. Air UK flew Monday to Friday but chose not to fly at weekends. Dan-Air would fill the gap. The same day saw Dan-Air commence services from Newcastle to Jersey.
Dan-Air suffered a further aircraft loss when a HS 748 on a mail flight crashed in Nailstone, Leicestershire. The crew of three persished as the aircraft plumeted to the ground over Nailstone in Leicestershire. Initial press reports told that the aircraft may have had a bomb on board. One onlooker said 'The aircraft seemed to come out of its dive and was practically stood on its tail when a large piece of metal fell off. The wings then folded upwards, the plane then fell to the floor.' It was fortunately the last fatal accident involving a Dan-Air airliner. It was dreadful time for the airline with three fatal accidents in as many years. The airline could take comfort, in July, when the official report cleared Dan-Air of any blame on the Sumburgh accident in 1979. Dan-Air also inistigated legal action agains the Spanish Air Traffic Control Authorities. The Spanish report into the accident had been published blaming the crew. The British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA) said the report was a whitewash and that the fault lay with the air traffic controllers. The British government were also not happy with the report and wished to see it amended. The report can be seen here.
A company HS748 was converted at Dan-Air Engineering's (DAE) Manchester base. he aircraft was fitted with a large cargo door. The first time such a task had been carried out. The 748 could land on short runways making it ideal for the Highlands services. The new door would enable a Land Rover to be carried. In total the aircraft could carry 5 1/2 tons of cargo. The 748 could be quickly converted into passenger use when not carrying cargo. Dan-Air had high hopes for cargo services should they be awarded any of the ex BA Highlands routes. The Aberdeen - Gatwick service would drop from 17 flights a week to 15 for the Winter months. Although there was an increase in frequency at weekends there would be one flight a day less on week days. On September 29th Dan-Air asked the CAA to revoke British Airways licence between Aberdeen and Orkney. Dan-Air had already asked the authority for permission to run scheduled service between Aberdeen and Kirkwall.The latest move by Dan-Air would mean they would have no competition from British Airways if their flights start on April 1 as planned.
Shetland Islands council backed BA to retain their monopoly on the Sumburgh-Aberdeen service. That was in contrast to the Tourist board who were fed up of BA not assisting them in promoting holidays to the Shetlands. The tourist board were backing Dan-Air. At the hearing in October British Airways stated that they did not wish to lose their Highlands services. Dan-Air asked for decisions to be deferred. Davies and Newman, the Dan-Air group, revealed a £2.000.000 loss for the first half of 1981. The shares tumbled 20p to 65p.
Dan-Air's annual 'Operation Santa' saw Dan-Air rIn September British Airways looked set to drop eleven of its unprofitable Scottish services. Dan-Air, who had been eating into BA's network, had prepared arguments for the CAA hearing that would follow. Several other airlines expressed an interest in taking over the routes.epatriate 3000 oil support workers. The company used all its available HS748s. The last flight would land on the mainland on the 22nd December. Scatsa would then close down. It would re open on January 4th 1982, when Dan-Air would once again start the exodus northbound to Scatsa. In total 140 flights were carried out to eight Scottish airports.
With the Comet now retired the fleet continued to expand. the introduction of the larger Boeing 727 200 series was well received. The BAC 1-11 proved to be a sturdy work horse on both charter and scheduled services. The ariliner adapted well into any role it was given. Although Dan-Air were later than their contemporary carriers, the Boeing 737 was absorbed into the fleet with seamless efficiency. It could be argued that the HS 748 was not an attractive aircraft. It was a noisy machine, but its exceptionally large wing span and robust construction enabled it to operate into many Highlands airports that other airliners simply couldn't. The fact that Dan-Air had more than 20 of them, mainly based in Scotland was proof that they were the leading carrier for oil related charter flights.
The Viscount was never fully integrated into Dan-Air's fleet. Although ten of them joined for short periods throughout the 70s and 80s the propliner never won the hearts or minds of Dan-Air. None of the graceful looking aircraft were painted in the airline's new livery. A total of 3,226,000 passengers were carried, again, a reduction in the previous year's performance. It was still more than any other carrier apart from British Airways. Dan-Air remained the second largest airline in the UK in terms of passenger numbers and aircraft fleet size. As scheduled passenger fares were higher and therefore potentially more profitable the reduction in overall figures was not problematic for the company as it had remained in profit. In January the Cardiff and Bristol to Paris service was closed due to poor loads. On 14th May a total of fourteen aircraft were chartered to carry passengers many of them V.I.P passengers for the official opening of the Sullom Voe Oil Terminal. The aircraft chartered were Boeing 727, BAC 1-11 and HS 748. There had been plans for Dan-Air to take over British Airways' Highlands and Islands routes, however the airline withdrew its offer. The CAA granted Dan-Air a licence for a new Gatwick-Dublin service. Harry Goodman floated his International Leisure Group (ILG) on the stock exchange and made a sizeable return to invest in more aircraft. Dan-Air benefitted from the growth in ILG as they chartered more of thier aircraft. Although it had its own airline - Air Europe, it was still much too small to carry all its own passengers.
- West Berlin-Amsterdam and Tees-side-Dublin services started - April 1st.
- Gatwick-Cork - Commenced April 13th
- Aberdeen - Newcastle - June 6th
- Newcastle - Jersey - June 6th
- CAA licence granted Gatwick - Dublin - August 27th
NETWORK & PRESS 1981
Red Sea Flotillas an Israeli/British owned company chartered Dan-Air Boeing 727s for the winter season for holiday flights to Eilat in Israel. The late night flights would take five hours, departing from Gatwick. Meanwhile the Irish government refused Dan-Air's application to fly the Gatwick-Dublin service, despite British Airways abandoning the route. Aer Lingus claimed that an existing 75 year old rule said that only BA could compete against them on Dublin flights. Dan-Air said it was inconsistent as they already flew into Ireland on the Cork service. The UK department of trade said they would have talks with their Irish counterparts.
Dan-Air franchised out the operation of its loss-making 'Link City' flights serving Newcastle, Manchester, Cardiff, Bournemouth and Birmingham to Channel Islands-based Metropolitan Airways. The good news for passengers is that Metropolitan, owned by Alderney Air Ferries, planned to boost schedules on the routes from four times weekly to twice daily, Monday to Friday, starting on March 29. It replaced Dan-Air's 44-seat British Aerospace HS748 turbo prop planes with 20 seat De Haviland Canada 'Twin Otters' which would be based at Newcastle and Bournemouth. Dan-Air would handle all sales and reservations on the services in return for a profit related commission, and the aircraft would carry Dan-Air insignia. Dan-Air would continue to operate the longer routes from London to Aberdeen and Newcastle. These had now been grown to such a level that they could well be considered 'trunk routes'. In April Dan-Air had been unhappy with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and British Airways' decision to carry on with their 'Highland and Islands' network. BA said that the programme would be revamped with lots of new working practices to make the experience better. They would be using HS748 aircraft on some of the services and inefficient and very old Vickers Visounts on the rest. They would replace the Vicsounts in May with more fuel efficient and more modern HS 748s that they would lease - From Dan-Air!!
Davies & Newman, after reporting a near trebled seasonal loss in the first six months, at £1.900,000 could only pull back to a £342,000 profit before tax for the full year. In 1980, the pre-tax surplus was £2,350,000. The talks with the Irish Department of Trade went to plan. As an incentive to allow Dan-air to fly into Dublin the UK Government would allow Aer Lingus to fly out of Belfast to three European cities. Following that Dan-Air started services to Dublin from Gatwick in May. Dan-Air would operate morning services and Aer Lingus the evenings.
In January a Dan-Air HS 748 departed in the early evening on a flight to Bristol. On board was former Tory Prime Minister Edward Heath, who was one of 28 passengers on the flight. Shortly after take off two Dutch fighter jets streaked towards the civilian aircraft. The HS 748 could not take any diiversive action. Fortunately the two jets peeled off and flew either side of the Dan-Air prop. None of the passengers on board were aware of the incident. Captain Geoff Hopkirk immediately complained to the tower at Leeds/Bradford. When told of the incident that evening, Heath said 'I'm glad they missed.' His secretary said that Mr. Heath would have taken the whole thing in his stride as he was used to drama. The Dutch Defence Ministry recalled the pilots who were on a training excercise. They were supposed to be heading to an RAF airport to refuel.
British Airways announced that it had ordered 19 of the new Boeing 757 for use on its shuttle services. Monarch had ordered three. Dan-Air said it too was interested in the £18million jet. Other carriers who expressed an interest included Orion Airways and Air Europe.
Laker Airways was technically a rival, although Dan-Air enjoyed a good working relationship with them as both companies had a 50% share in Gatwick Handling. In January 1982. Laker had approached Harry Goodman at ILG and expressed a desire to sell off his Tour Operators, Laker Air Travel and Arrowsmith. Terms could not be agreed and the sale was called off. ILG's in February Laker spectacularly went bust.
Harry Goodman was to benefit from the company's failure. It was not to be the first or last time that this happened. He had aircraft on standby for when the Laker collapse happened. Laker went bust in February. Thousands were without flights. Aircraft were grounded and staff lost jobs. Dan-Air also profited from Laker's downfall. It picked up passengers and also secured some of the charters that were earmarked for Laker. The Gatwick Handling share was sold to Delta and Northwest Airlines with both US airlines holding a 25% share.
On March 29th Metropolitan Airways, a small, regional commuter airline, took over the ‘Link City' network between Newcastle, Manchester, Birmingham, Cardiff and Bournemouth, operating under the Dan-Air banner using Bandierante aircraft. The move was not popular. Despite this a new Bristol - Cardiff - Glasgow service began on August 25th. The airline continued apace with fare reductions to increase its scheduled service network. Reductions of 10% were offered on Norwegian flights and discounts of up to 20% were offered on many routes including the Aberdeen-Gatwick and Isle Of Man services. The Highlands of Scotland became a major battle ground for UK airlines with Dan-Air, Alidair, Air UK, Caledonian, Air Ecosse and Loganair all vying for routes. British Airways had been feeling the squeeze for a long time and posted significant losses of more than £200 million. The announced in late 1982 that they were going to strengthen their Highlands network by ditching the costly to operate Viscounts and replacing them with a fleet of HS748 aircaft. Three leased from Dan-Air and the others from BAe. The Highlands routes had lost BA more than £4m this year and they were aiming to make a profit within 12 months. Independant airlines were certainly under pressure. Dan-Air had been desperate to add Gatwick-Dublin to its network to go alongside the Newcastle-Dublin service. Dan-Air was given the go ahead by the UK authorities, only to be refused permission by the Irish. The CAA were keen to see Dan-Air on the Gatwick-Dublin service and agreed to allow Aer Lingus to fly into Europe from Belfast in exchange for giving Dan-Air permission to fly to the Irish capital, completing the deal in May this year. Fares would be £70 return and £80 for weekend flights iin the peak Summer months.
By July of 1982 Dan-Air had reduced its fares on its Gatwick-Bergen service by 10% in an attempt to generate traffic, the new fare would be £121. The group of companies had been losing money for the whole of the year but they were still optimistic that they would be in profit by the last quarter. Dan-Air had to contend with five survivors from the Sumburgh crash in 1979 had now began law suits for compensation that the airline estimated would cost up to a million pounds. British Midland Airways opened the Edinburgh and Glasgow to Heathrow routes despite strong objections from Dan-Air, British Caledonian and British Airways. Meanwhile Dan-Air added Heathrow to its network for the first time when it commenced operations to Inverness. In July they completed negotiations with British Aerospace to purchase two BAe 146 jets with a third on option. They stated that they would be basing one of the aircraft at Newcastle where it would be used on the Gatwick service. As the scheduled route was a weekday service the airline would be able to supplement the charter division at weekends and fly to Northern European destinations. Dan-Air thus became the world launch customer of this brand new aircraft.
In late July a service vehicle was involved in a collision with a Dan-Air Boeing 727 at Gatwick. The lorry tried to avoid the aircraft by speeding up. It then tore the engine off the Boeing, this happened on the same week that Dan-Air flew the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, complete with instruments on a specially chartered aircraft to Aberdeen. In August Dan-Air were in a position to announce that they were in the final stages of negotiation with British Aerospace for the purchase of two new BAe146 jets with more on option. The aircraft cost £8,500,000 each. Dan-Air would be the world's launch customer. Dan-Air said they had been interested in the four engined airliner because of its remarkable fuel efficiency and the fact that it was so quiet. One such aircraft would be based at Newcastle and fly the Gatwick service.
On September 28th British Airways announced that it was axing 17 routes from its Highlands and Islands services. They blamed a 37% drop in traffic and a loss of £1,400,000 on the services. This cost cutting measure would help towards reducing the £10,000,000 that the state owned carrier needed to save. British Caledonian was also in a desperate state. Despite losing £,2,000,000 they were to enter the Scottish air routes battle. They would operate from Edinburgh and Glasgow to Gatwick with a return fare of £110, which was £8 cheaper than BA. B Cal would have a standby fare of £33 one way for weekends and off peak travel. Whilst British Midland would be flying from Glasgow to Heathrow. Dan-Air had been contacted by the CAA and asked which routes it would like to be considered for. Dan-Air had never been an airline that took unneccesary risks. Nor had they ever gone in for massive expansion over short periods. If British Airways were losing money on the routes then it would be unlikely Dan-Air could start flying them at a profit straght away. There would need to be a huge investment in purchasing aircraft to feed the services too. Dan-Air did see the potential in the Inverness-Heathrow service. Not only did they see that as viable, it would give them access to Heathrow - for the first time. As it stood, BA had given the CAA six months notice, Dan-Air could evaluate things in the next few months.
A New partnership was formed in October of this year. Scandinavian Airline System (SAS) along with Dan-Air and the cruise line company Fred Olsen would offer skiing package holidays to Bergan. The lucrative programme would run from December to April 1983. The day after that was announced on 23rd October Dan-Air was dealt a heavy blow from Shell. The contract for the oil related charter flights was up for renewal. Dan-Air had submitted their information but lost out to Scottish Airline, Alidair, who said they would fly three services each way each day in a 75 seat Vickers Viscount aircraft from Aberdeen to Sumburgh. Dan-Air had planned to use 44 seat Hawker Siddeley 748 propliners. When confirming the loss a Dan-Air spokesman said "Of course we are very sad to lose the contract, but we have been in business for thirty years and the loss of one contract is not going to be the end of the world."
The Inverness-Heathrow route that British Airways had dropped looked certain to be saved when other airlines submitted plans to operate the service. British Midland, and Jersey based GB Airways had applied and now Dan-Air submitted their application to the CAA on October 27th. GB Airways, ironically, was part owned by British Airways. The Highlands Develpment Board said they were looking for an airline that would provide at least a twice daily schedule of flights. There would be a public meeting that would convene in January 1983.n the meantime Dan-Air had the backing of 60 Members of Parliament, The Highlands Development Board and several businesses. GB Airways withdrew its own application having said they would acquire Viscount aircraft for the flights if they were successful. British Midland would operate three flights a day. Dan-air would operate two flights each way with a third via Aberdeen using BAC 1-11 with 89 seats. BMA would use a DC9 with 80 seats. British Midland claimed that they would be best suited at Heathrow because they already operated several flights there making them better equipped where Dan-Air were strongest at Gatwick. Both airlines said they would open a base employing about eight people.
Dan-Air was the successful applicant. Before the service began Dan-Air would have to deal with British Airways' new plans. BA would be flying from Inverness to Glasgow with a flight timed so that passengers could connect to the Glasgow-Heathrow shuttle that would arrive at Heathrow at 9-30am. Dan-Air were given a landing time of 11:30. The authority in charge of landing slots at Heathrow was run by - wait for it - British Airways! BA were now in a position to say they would arrive from Inverness 90 minutes before the Dan-Air flight. A spokesman said that Dan-Air would take this to the very highest level. In a very short time Dan-Air turned a loss making route into one of the most profiable on their network. This was no small feat. Dan-Air employed local staff on the service and immediately implemented a level of service never seen on the route. Dan-Air would serve fresh Scottish produce on the service with salmon, beef and even haggis. On board servce would provide Scottish preserves to accompany tea and scones. On the inaugural flight the Dan-Air band played the bagpipes as passengers boarded the aircraft on Burns' Night. It would seem that Dan-Air would stop at nothing to provide the best service.
The Metrolpolitan services that had been franchised in late March became profitable within six months. There had been some extraordinary changes to how the flights operated. There would be no cabin crew for a start - One of the two pilots would serve drinks and snacks! The aircraft were tiny in comparison to the HS 748 and BAC 1-11s. Sadly there had not been enough passenger numbers to justify the larger Dan-Air aircraft. The arrangement was working well for Dan-Air in particular. Dan-Air's reputation had taken a knock when the airline suffered three fatal crashes within four years. The company was cleared of any blame in 1982 for the Sumburgh Accident. Dan-Air continued their law suit against Spanish Authorities over the Tenerife accident.
The half year finanical results in November revealed that the expected loss was £1,740,000 compared with the 1981 figure of £1,900,000. There had been hefty charges from leasing aircraft. In spite of this the airline was able to increase trading profit by 49% to £3,480,000. The turnover had also increased by 20% to £78,200,000. Shares went up a few pence to 72p. Fred Newman was able to report that the Summer charter programme was fully commited for the Summer. The recession had affected most airlines, most of whom lost money this year. Dan-Air, with a fleet of 54 aircraft, was certainly 'holding its own' said Newman at the time. Both the airline and the shipping division had coped well in the ecconomic slump.
Despite there being a significant recession Dan-Air had carried over 3,599,000 passengers in 1982. It was the largest figure since 1979. The size of the Dan-Air fleet was impressive. It was by far the largest fleet in the UK, excluding British Airways. British Caledonian who always claimed to be the second largest airline in the UK had just 29 aircraft in their own fleet. At the time no other airline came close to how many passengers Dan-Air flew either.
- Gatwick - Dublin - Daily service started. - June 28th
- Gatwick - Zurich - CAA Licence granted - August 11th
- London Heathrow - Inverness - Route Applies for October 28th
NETWORK & PRESS 1982
The fleet size grew to 59 aircraft in 1983. The size was reflected with the number of passengers carried 3,702,000 passengers flew with Dan-Air including several thousand on the latest addition to the fleet - The BAe146. As the world's launch customer, Dan-Air took delivery of the first of three BAe146 100 series jets. They were to be used on the scheduled services network. Initially on the Gatwick-Berne, Dublin, Toulouse and Perpignan routes. Soon it was to feature on the Newcastle-Gatwick, Bergen, Stavanger fllights and the Leeds - Jersey service. The Newcastle based aircraft would supplement the charter fleet on weekends serving Northern European destinations from Tees Side.
The year began with a sales pitch for flights to Jersey. Dan-Air offered 1983 flights at 1982 prices, selling package holidays through their own Tour Operator - Dan-Air Holidays as well as several others. The more upmarket Tour Operators were advertising scheduled services as part of their holiday offers.
The Inverness-Heathrow service was to commence at the end of March. Dan-Air had been successful in changing the landing timings at Heathrow. British Airways had emplyed grossly unfair stalling tactics with landing slots at Heathrow and the victory was a hard fought battle.The flights would now depart just before 7am and arrive at Heathrow before 9am. An office was opened at Inverness with nine staff who were trained in sales, reservatiions, check in, ground handling and cargo. The latter was something that had never been offered on this route. Dan-Air hoped to carry up to a ton on each flight. The disagreement with the slots committee at Heathrow had to be referred to the Department of Trade who said they couldn't intervene. Dan-Air had began taking reservations for flights and printed timetables. The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) had given Dan-Air the right to take over the British Airways service and BA refused to give up their slots at Heathrow on the route it previously operated. Things were finally resolved on 12th February. Dan-Air had the take of at 6:40 am landing at Heathrow at 7:55am. The return flight would depart 8:55pm arriving in Inverness at 10:25am. The afternoon flight would depart Inverness at 5:30pm attiving Heathrow 6:55pm Departing Heathrow 7:25:pm arriving Inverness 9:00pm. APEX fares would be from £40 one way on standby. One way fares were: super saver - £55 and regular economy fares £75. The Inaugural flight on Monday 28th March took off on time at 6:40am with 69 passengers on board, 17 shorter than full capacity. Passengers were treated to a cooked breakfast, complentary champagne, shortcake and fruit cake. British Airways had managed to fly 60,000 passengers a year on the route the year before and Dan-Air hoped to improve on that. Initially a BAC 1-11 series 200 was used with 86 seats. The plan was to introduce the BAe146 by May. In May a new service Inverness-Aberdeen-Gatwick would take off after a successful application to the CAA.
Dan-Air spotted an opportunity to take over another route that British Airways had axed. Dan-Air wanted the Inverness-Aberdeen service. Passengers could carry on to Gatwick where hundreds of charter flights would be available. Tour Operators added supplements in their brochures for airports outside London, these suppliments rose even higher for passengers wanting the most attractive flight times, often the supplements were higher than the cost of the scheduled flight fare into London.
The BAe 146 was ready at Hatfield for delivery in April. Dan-Air arranged for almost 200 councillors from Inverness, Aberdeen and Newcastle to visit the aircraft. Once in service the aircraft would serve on the Newcastle-Gatwick route. It was a busy month for Dan-Air as Scotland would be in the final at the European Cup Winners Final in Gothenburg. Altogether 11 Dan-Air aircraft would join 22 other carrier's aircraft on specially chartered flights from Aberdeen to Gothenburg. The end of year financial result showed a record profit for the carrier. With pre tax profits at £3,330,000 on a turnover of £183,800,000. The previous year saw profits dwindle to £342,000. The demise of Laker Airways the previous year had seen some business move to Dan-Air who also had undergone a cost cutting blitz. In the first month of the Inverness-Heathrow service Dan-Air carried 5205 passengers, 5% more than BA had carried the previous year.
was the only jetliner able to land at Berne airport due to its short runway. As the launch customer for the 146 Dan-Air were able to take advantage by advertising jet flights to the ski resort area early in the year. To increase reservations performance the company introduced the Travicom Reservations System.
Laker had tried once again to get an ATOL licence. His application was refused. Laker had new brochures, TV advertisements and had began recruiting resort staff. He had panned to charter Dan-Air aircraft on his European charter operations. Naturally Dan-Air were disappointed.
As soon as the BAe146 entered service on the scheduled service network it proved to be popular. It carried 100 passengers in quiet comfort. The aircraft was able to contribute further by joining the charter fleet when it was not on scheduled services. The first charter flights it operated were on behalf of the Airways Holidays group.
At the end of May Dan-Air announced that it was adding a third daily flight from Inverness-Gatwick via Aberdeen. This brought the number of Dan-Air flights between Scotland and England to 80 per week. British Airways initroduced the 189 seat Boeing 757 on its Aberdeen-Heathrow flights. Further good news came when Dan-Air won the contract to supply flights from Aberdeen to Scatsa in the Shetlands as part of the Sulham Voe oil platform. Some 25,000 people would fly on the charters. Zurich would be served from April 30th with flights from Gatwick.
The Inverness-Heathrow service proved to be a smash hit and by June of 1983 almost 20,000 passengers had flown on the route. It was further enhanced when Dan-Air joined forces with Loganair who introduced flights from Caithness and Orkney with times scheduled to link up with the Dan-Air service. In June Davies and Newman share prices rocketed to 240p. There was growing confidence in Dan-Air as an airline. In an effort to show how committed the airline was to the the service August 12th saw an opportunity to publicise Scotland and Dan-Air. The 12th is known throughout the world as 'Glorious 12th' for Scotland's grouse shoot. Birds were shot at 3am by the Earl of Cawdor, six and a half brace were then taken straight to Inverness airport, packed into the BAC 1-11 hold where they were ferried to London to be roasted and served just after 10am at the London Inn at the Park Hotel. Not all the birds were carried as cargo though. Some were cooked and prepared at Inverness to be served to passengers with champagne at 33,000 feet on the early morning flight to London Heathrow. Dan-Air launched a bid to increase their presence at Heathrow. The airline wanted the chance to compete head to head with British Airways on the busy Heathrow to Aberdeen and Heathrow to Manchester routes. Until earlier in 1983 British Airways had the sole licence for these services. British Midland had been successful with its application to serve Belfast, Glasgow and Edinburgh from Heathrow, despite objections from the state owned airline. Dan-Air's plans to fly to Belfast from Heathrow would be cheaper than British Midland who had given the route up. The Government had wanted to introduce freer competition with air licences. British Airways said they were studying Dan-Air's bid and that they would almost certainly object. British Airways carried more than 500,000 on the Heathrow-Manchester route and 370,000 on the Aberdeen-Heathrow one. In September Aberdeen based Air Ecosse became the fourth airline to apply to fly between Aberdeen-Heathrow.
Intasun was, by now, the second biggest Tour Operator in the UK. They had increased their business buy more than 27% since 1982, Winter holidays increased by 107%. Booking for 1984 stood at 590,000 holidays They would increase the number of flights they would charter from Dan-Air and Monarch airlines. Air Europe had built up a fleet of seven Boeing 737 200 aircraft by 1982. Two new Boeing 757s were obtained via British Airways who had ordered 19 but because of restructuring for its privatisation could only take 17. In 1982 Air Europe had carried 1.2 millioon passengers. Intasun would still need to purchase substantial numbers of seats from Dan-Air and Monarch. Often Intasun would wait until all the charter flights had been booked by other Tour Operators. Any surplus seats could then be snapped up at lower rates by Intasun. On high density routes it would charter full aircraft. Intasun would charter as many as six aircraft would be for Summer months from Dan-Air alone.
The third airline to fly from Aberdeen-London was Air UK who entered the frame in August. They would fly into Stanstead via Norwich. Dan-Air set its sights on Belfast, in September when it replaced British Midland on the Belfast - London Heathrow service. They would slash not only fares, but flight times as well. They proposed fares from just £35 one way on twice daily flights. The service would see Dan-Air go head to head with BA. The state airline was getting into a much leaner financial state. They had reduced their staff numbers, cut eighty aircraft from their fleet and disposed of several routes. On this particular service Dan-Air would be offering flights £9 cheaper than those of BA. Dan-Air claimed it was the only airline in the UK to make a profit the previous year. When it posted results of £4m profits. Even the cargo business was improving with high yields on the Inverness-Heathrow service doing exceptionally well. After only six months on the route it had become profitable, compared with British Airways who lost £500,000 on the route the previous year.
The first half financial results announced in October showed the usual losses. They had climbed by a £1m to £2,870,000 turnover remained steady at £78,700,000. The half year figures always made unpleasant reading. Most of the loss was accounted for with aircraft leasing. Twelve of the fleet were leased aircraft. These had to be leased for longer this year. Fred Newman refused to say if he thought the airline would go into profit for the end of year results in April next year. He went on to say that the charter fleet had been fully utilised and that the scheduled services continued to perform satisfactorily.
Late in the year the Spanish Government said they wanted 50% of all holiday flights flights from the UK to be with Spanish Airlines. Dan-Air, Monarch and Britannia all called for an emergency conference. This came at a time wen Manx Airlines from the Isle of Man announced that they were dropping out of their planned Gatwick - Belfast application stating that they didn't think they would be successful against Dan-Air who would be using jet aircraft. Manx had planned to serve the two cities with Viscount aircraft.
- London Heathrow - Inverness - 27th March - (Taken over from British Airways)
- London Heathrow - Belfast (Taken over from BMA)
- Gatwick - Zurich - Daily from April 30th
- Aberdeen - Gatwick - 21st May
- Inverness - Gatwick - 21st May
NETWORK & PRESS 1983
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) would convene a hearing to consider the proposed Aberdeen-Heathrow service. It had become a busy fight with Air Ecosse, British Midland, Air UK and Dan-Air all wishing to compete with British Airways head to head. British Midland had bought out the Scottish airline, Loganair to help extend its profile in Scotland. Dan-Air were offering increased frequencies, new jet aircraft, lower fares and extensive interline connections. They would also improve cabin services beyond anything their competitors were offering. Air Ecosse had leased a BAC 1-11 and claimed it was in the best position to meet Aberdeen passengers' needs as they were Aberdeen based. Air UK were keeping what they would offer secret until the hearing. Every airline would object to every other application. Why was this so service being so heavily contested? Of the ten busiest routes that British Airways flew, Aberdeen-Heathrow was tenth, making it a 'blue ribbon' route. 360,000 flew it annually. BA did not disclose how much profit it made per route, but 360,000 was a lot of people. This route would have made more profit than many long haul services at the time.
The second service from Heathrow would be to Belfast. British Midland had dropped the route. Dan-Air said they would have fares from £35 one way, £9 cheaper than British Airways. With the expansion Dan-Air's share price went up to a record 182p.
As March approached rumours circulated that Dan-Air would be withdrawing its application for the Heathrow-Aberdeen service. Dan-Air fiercely deinied the rumours and stated that nothing had changed as far as they were concerned. Just two weeks later Dan-Air withdrew their application. They said they were being realistic and that not only did they not want to fly the route, they didn't think anyone else should either. A spokesman said "We just don't think that there is enough room for two operators on the route let alone three or four. We think the status quo should be retained."
A new service from Manchester to Zurich commenced this year.
For a short time in 1984 the company used a Handley Page Herald on it's scheduled network. This aircraft had to be leased in. The aircraft was owned by British Air Ferries. It was involved in a full scale emergency landing within days of joining the Dan-Air fleet. It was returned to BAF soon after. Type never flew with Dan-Air again. There had been a large increase in passenger numbers this year and share prices in January jumped to a record high of 181p. Davies and Newman claimed that this was due to an unprecidented surge in Summer Sun bookings. The charter programme for 1984 was looking to be a packed season. In July of 1983 Dan-Air announced it would be starting flights from Newcastle to Amsterdam. Dan -Air were already operating a service from Tees Side and following a three month trial the route became permanent. The new service would use a new BAe146 jet, Dan-Air the third of the type had just been leased. The schedule would fly from Newcastle to Tees Side to before flying direct to Amsterdam. Dan-Air would be reducing fares to £79 return which was cheaper than BCal's £102 BCal at the time had a monopoly on the route. The BAC 1-11 based at Inverness sat idle for six hours a day. Pickfords Travel came up with a new idea. They would charter the aircraft for flights around the Highland islands. The 55 minute flilghts would take in Orkney, Cape Wrath and Ullapool. The flights were massively oversubscribed. Pickfords said they could have filled another aircraft. Two trial flights sold out within 48 hours of going on sale.
End of year profits for the Davies and Newman group rose from £3.32m to £4.31m shares rose again to 198p. On May 24th Dan-Air revealed that they had ordered a 149 seat Boeing 737 300 series. The latest, most technologically advanced version of the jet.
Dan-Air were successful in their application for a service from Belfast to Amsterdam which would start in July. The small regional airline Genair went bankrupt in July and Dan-Air quickly took over the now vacant Belfast-Tees Side via Newcastle sevice. They followed that with an announcement that they were seeking that they would like to link Glasgow to their newly acquired Newcastle - Amsterdam service, a route abandoned by BCal. If the new routes were successful they would add them as point to point destinations.
Talks with the Secretary of State for Transport Nick Ridley went ahead in July. The Government had announced that British Airways would be privatised the following year. A group of 18 independant airlines lobbied ministers to try to get them to ensure BA's Gatwick operations would transfer to them ahead of the anticipated £1000 million sale. BA did not want to lose the routes, the independent carriers saw it as the only way they could survive against a newly privatised airline with financial muscle, a ready made network that was second to none in the world and a fleet of aircraft that was 200 strong. The Government had already invested heavily in BA to make it more attractive for public sale. Dan-Air and others claimed that the report concentrated so heavily on British Airways and Caledonian that it all but disregarded every other UK airline. They accused the government of investing too much in the state airline in preparation for its privatisation. A White Paper issued by the Government in October was heavily critisised by Dan-Air who accused the Government of setting back aviation in the UK by ten years. This didn't stop Dan-Air applying for new routes to Bergen, Stavanger Mpntpellier and Toulouse. The Gatwick - Jersey service became an all year round service this year. Jet aircraft began to be absorbed into the routes where until turboprops had operated. the BAe 146 in particular was ideal. It had double the capacity of the prop liner HS748 and used about the same fuel. It was quieter and had a galley that could prepare hot food. Where Dan-Air offered hot meals on BAC 1-11 and HS 748 flights they would have to be brought on board, pre cooked in vacuum storage boxes. The BAe146 was all round a better performing aircraft. With this in mind, for the first time the HS 748 was under employed especially as Dan-Air had lost the oil charter contract in 1982. Three of the 748s were therefore leased to Phillipines Airlines. British Airways now saw Dan-Air as a threat to them on scheduled services, so they stepped up their London Gatwick-Aberdeen service with greater frequencies. Dan-Air responded by linking with American Airlines to provide feeder flights for their transtlantic services. Business Class passengers would benefit from the use of executive lounges at Aberdeen and Gatwick. BA then offered free helicopter flights from Gatwick to Heathrow to connect to their own long haul services. Single trips would be £60 with a super saver fares avaialble at £48. Even cheaper would be the extra saver at £30. British Airways' regular single fare was £87. British Airways had lost the battle to stop Dan-Air. Flights would commence in April 1985.
Dan-Air was in the news for the wrong reasons in August when it was brought to everyone's attention that they did not have male cabin crew. This was true, a statement put out at the time said "We honestly believe that they majority of our passengers prefer young ladies as cabin crew." The airline did employ a few men as cabin crew, known as 'Loadmasters' they were mainly based in Scotland to work on flights carrying out oil related charters. The Equal Opportunities Commission said there would not be a formal investigation. Saying that they preffered 'Persuasion'.
September 28th saw the CAA licence Dan-Air and Air UK to fly direct from Newcaslte to Amsterdam. For the third year running Dan-Air would be offering long weekend flights from Newcastle to Stavanger or Bergan for £130. The offer would apply for flights departing Thursday, Friday and Saturday for the winter months. Dan-Air also hoped to fly into Oslo as well as Bergen and Stavanger from Gatwick in 1985.
A press statement said that Dan-Air wished to extend its links with Heathrow and Inveness. In addition to the flights it already operated between the two cities it now wished to add a daily service from Inverness to Heathrow via Manchester. Dan-Air claimed that passengers often flew to Heathrow to catch long haul flights that were not available to them from Inverness. As Manchester had a large network it would make sense to offer a closer airport with many available connections. The Inverness-Manchester-Heathrow service would replace the existing Inverness-Gatwick service. The year's figure on the existing Inverness-Heathrow route was up 20% to 88,000. The route was an unqualified success.
As the year drew to a close Dan-Air announced that it had applied to serve Lourdes in the south of France with return fares from £102. Despite the dire economic situation in the UK Dan-Air seemed to be bucking the trend and looked to 1985 with confidence.
For the first time the company carried over four million passengers. In fact, 4,559,000 were carried, making 1984 by far the busiest for the airline. The tie in between Metropolitan Airways and Dan-Air had not been entirely successful. After initial successes some of the flights began to lose money. The airline was not in the best of financial health. After further expansion with Dan-Air Engineering A third base was opened - this time at Gatwick. Lengthy talks resulted in the airline receiving planning permission for the largest hanger at Gatwick to date. With Inverness being so successful Dan-Air were looking at Engineering facilities at the airport as well as a dedicated cargo facility. The cargo handling had been a major boost to profits on the route. As the company looked back on the year they could boast that many of the routes that had been established now saw extra flights being added, and newer, larger aircraft began to appear throughout the network. The base at Berlin also prospered following the approval of the Berlin - Saarbruken service using HS 748 aircraft. This was the second route to be operated from within Germany that did not land in the UK. Dan-Air had approval from the Allied Air Attache for the licences to operate the services. This year was important to the charter industry as a whole. Most of the restrictions concerning charter flights were removed. From now on there would be total freedom of pricing, choice of destinations, of who they sold seats to, flight times, discounting and seat only selling. Only Cyprus within Europe refused to allow seat only clients, feeling that such a practice may lower the tone of holidaymakers to the island.
New Routes & Improvements To Existing Routes:
- The airline started a Saarbrucken-West Berlin service, taking over the contract TAT. - January 9th
- Heathrow - Belfast (Aldergrove) - Taken over from British Midland. Dan-Air operated twice daily until March 26th then 3 x daily jet service - introduced the lowest fares on the route. - 5th February
- Gatwick - Zurich route now twice daily - 30th April
- Berne services increased to nine weekly - 30th April
- Manchester - Zurich - Daily service commenced - May 14th
- Gatwick - Jersey all year round service commenced - May 30th
- Newcastle / Tees-side - Amsterdam Commenced - July 16th
- Tees Side / Newcastle - Belfast - Replacing Genair on this service.
- Jet service to Guernsey from Bristol and Cardiff (Replacing HS748)
- London Hathrow - Manchester - Approval granted. This service would be in direct competition to British Airways' Super Shuttle - Plans to commence services April 1st 1985
- Inverness - Manchester - Route applied for - Hopes to comence April 1st 1985
- Birmingham - Geneva - 16 Weeks ski flights
NETWORK & PRESS 1984
1985 got off to a flying start when in January the millionth BAe146 passenger was carried. Two of these superb jets were based at Newcastle. As well as their work on the scheduled network they would be used on Dan-Air's charter programme for 1985. They were fully booked at maximum utilisation for the entire year. Over Christmas and well into the new year the 146 was able to fly a series of charters to Innsbruck from Gatwick. The first time a British service had operated there in 20 years. The aircraft also flew to the Swiss capital Berne, the only jet airliner that could operate into the city. In addition to all of that the 146 was connecting Guernsey to the mainland. The only jet aircraft to do so at the time. Newcastle was home to five 146 flight crews. A further eighteen pilots were based at the airport. Cabin crew, ground staff and engineering support was also carred out at the important base, which was also the home of pilot training.
Newcastle Airport played host to the Sun Newspaper holiday 85 show for two days in February. Nineteen company stands offered promotions including Dan-Air. Pleasure flights were available for just £15 on Boeing 737, BAe146 and BAC 1-11 aircraft. February 26th saw Dan-Air place applications for scheduled services from Gatwick to Berlin, Madrid, Alicante and Lisbon using Boeing 737 aircraft. The same day Dan-Air heard that it had been successful with its application to serve Amsterdam from Manchester. This would benefit Aberdeen and Inverness as they had direct flights to Manchester with Dan-Air.
In March British Airways leased another Dan-Air HS 748 for their Highlands and Islands divisio. British Airways had recently increased their dominance in Scotland. Dan-Air had a surplus of the aircraft as oil charters had declined dramatically. Newer, long range helicopters could fly directly onto oil rigs from the Mainland. Therefore the reliance on fixed wing aircraft ferrying oil rig workers to the Shetlands for onward helicopter flights became redundant.
The London Heathrow-Manchester service in direct competition with British Airways commenced in April. The going was tough from the onset. British Airways immediately introduced their new Boeing 757 aircraft on a route that was already firmly established. Dan-Air's load factors were a disaster. In an attempt to muscle in on the available passengers, Dan-Air increased their number of flights each day, this was quickly matched by British Airways. BA's extra aircraft were timed so their own departures would take off ten minutes before the Dan-Air flights were due to depart. In late May Dan-Air offered two for one flights on the route for the entire month, provided the two passengers travelled together. This, they claimed was an attempt to raise awareness of the route and when pessengers had experieced the Dan-Air difference they would be hooked. All it did in reality was to increase load factors for the month of June. No amount of free drinks, promises of hot meals and great service would be able to lure passengers away. What mattered was flight timings, frequency of flights and possibly aircraft type. Despite this brutal form of competition Dan-Air extended the two for one offer through July. The Boeiing 757 that British Airways used was a magnificent aircraft. It had been an instant hit for British Airways as well as several charter operators. Air Europe, Britannia and Monarch had ordered the 189 plus seating aircraft. Even Dan Air themselves stated in public that they were considering it. Dan Air's BAC 1-11 was old and noisy when compared to the 757.
Also in April things came to a disastrous conclusion with Metropolitan Airways. The commuter airline had taken over Dan-Air's Link City Network. The small airline's aircraft were painted in Dan-Air colours and had the additional benefit of Dan-Air's ticketing, sales and promotional assistance. Metropolitan would provide the flights and Dan-Air would take a commission. To be frank Metropolitan Airways used tiny aircraft with very limited passenger appeal. None could provide a full meal service. In some instances one of the pilots even served drinks. Routes that had been fairly successful throughout the 1970s and early 1980s began to lose money. Metropolitan Airways asked Dan-Air for financial assistance, Dan-Air refused to bail the airline out and in April Metropolitan went out of business. The routes connecting Cardiff to Glasgow via Manchester and Newcastle/Cardiff to Leeds Bradford / Bournemouth - Cardiff via Birmingham would now be up for grabs.
Results for the full year announced in May saw Dan-Air's profits fall from £4.3m last year to just £3.1m. The airline said intense competition on both the charter and scheduled services were to blame. The fall of sterling did nothing to help. There had been many efficiencies made over the year with better performing aircraft. Turnover was up 20% at £242.8m. Interest payments were down 48.6% at £1.69m. There had been a £1.4m benefit from the share of profits from associated companies.
In May Dan-Air were able to boast another scheduled service from Manchester, this time to Montpellier in France with fares from £135 return. Flights would be operated by BAC 1-11.
Orion Airways had been formed as part of the Horizon Holidays Group. It commenced operations with two Boeing 737 200 aircraft. By 1984 the fleet had grown to eleven aircraft. In 1985 the airline began operating 737 300 aircraft. for the first five years of its existence it flew exclusively for Horizon who were one of the largest Tour Operators in the UK. They also used Dan-Air to carry out their programme. In 1985 it was announced that Orion would now carry out charter flights for other Tour Operators. With many competitors Dan-Air was being squeezed. Air Europe, Britannia, Monarch as well as Orion all were after the same business. In most cases the major Tour Operators had their own in house airline. Dan-Air were the largest exception.
The first half financial results didn't paint the prettiest of pictures the profits were down 20% or £605,000.group turnover was up 23% at £123m. Davies and Newman group profits were up at £5.5m. But hire charges had cost £5.6m and interest charges had leapt to £1.2m. The charter fleet had been fully utilised during the Summer months but margins had been put under severe pressure.
The Inverness-Manchester-Heathrow route was finally put out of its misery in September when Dan-Air withdrew the route from its network. It had been unprofitable from the start and subsidising it for longer would have been pointless. Both Skybridge Tours and Century tours went into receivership in August. This badly affected Dan-Air's Gatwick-Nice service as the two companies booked 90 holidaymakers onto Dan-Air scheduled service flights every Saturday. Although the Dublin service was given a boost when the CAA gave permission for both Dan-Air and Aer Lingus to reduce their fares to £89. In 2020 - It ust surely come across as strange that government departments were responsible for determining the price of an air ticket. The CAA had recently refused the independants requests for a few pounds increase on the grounds that "They were already making enough money on the routes."
The launch of the Newcastle-Amsterdam service in November came as a result of British Caledonian withdrawing from the route. The CAA awarded both Air UK and Dan-Air the licence. The Dutch Airline was also well established on the service. The challenge was something Dan-Air were more than prepared for. They would be taking on Air UK in a head to head battle. Dan-Air were promising to be the first in the morning out to Amsterdam and the first to return. They would be offering a jet service as opposed to Air UK's Fokker F27 propliner. Finally, hot meals would be provided on all services. It wasn't long before Air UK had to replace its F27 with a jetliner - Their BAC 1-11. This was not a match for Dan Air's brand new BAe 146. On Air UK's inaugral flight the aircraft developed a fuel leak and had to be cancelled. With passengers being flown back on KLM and Dan-Air!
Two Boeing 727s left the fleet in 1985 to be replaced by a Boeing 737 and a BAe146 bringing their total to eight and four respectively. Capt Lynn Barton gained command on the BAe146 being the first female Captain of the type in the World. Although the company had a poor reputation in recruiting male cabin crew, Lynn was one of four female pilots who were employed at the time. The airline had employed several more women in the flight deck. The oil support flights had seen a further downturn in numbers. This resulted in a reduction of the HS748 fleet further still. Following changes in charter flight rules and the EEC making regulation easier Dan-Air submitted applications for licences to fly from Gatwick to Madrid, Lisbon, Alicante, Santiago, Seville and Berlin. With further applications for Manchester to Lisbon and Oporto to commence in 1987. The Gatwick-Lourdes licence applied for in 1985 was successful as was the Innsbruck application
The Newcastle-Oslo service that Dan Air applied for in 1985 took to the air this year. It was the fastest route to the Norwegian capital. Fares were from £122 and consolidated Dan Air's position as number one carrier from Newcastle. Dan-Air had been operating for thirty two years it was only right that the CAA were giving more routes to them. One source told this webmaster
"There is no doubt about it - The CAA were heavily in favour of British Airways. I think that they just did not understand what Dan-Air did. They saw us as a charter airline. I think it perplexed them when we applied for scheduled services. I don't know how they thought charter flights operated. There's very little difference. If we were carrying more than four million people a year we must have known what we were doing. I don't think they got us until 1985. By then we had the 146 and the latest 737s. We had earned the right to fly these routes. I won't say the names of some of our rivals, the independents - but some of them were flying aircraft that were bloody ancient - and we were the ones that that got the bad publicity - One such company that had nothing but praise heaped upon it was in such a mess financially that it paid for maintenance by giving us a BAC 1-11 because it had no money! We were in a good position financially and we were very well run with an excellent management structure, but such is life I'm afraid."
1985 was also a milestone in terms of passenger numbers with more than a million passengers carried on Dan-Air Scheduled Services for the first time. Altogether 5,007,000 people flew with the company in 1985. The year it was announced this that British Airways and British Caledonian were thinking of a merger. Naturally other airlines complained to all the authorites.
For a British independent airline to carry more than five million passengers was unprecedented. The company was second only to British Airways in terms of passengers carried. It was two million more passengers than Britannia Airways, who claimed to be the largest charter airline in the World. That was a downright lie, in fact, Dan-Air carried more charter passengers than any other UK airline in 1985, and for many years afterwards. British Caledonian was way behind Dan-Air in terms of passengers carried on either scheduled or charter services. Way back in the early seventies, the UK Government had decided that there would be a 'second force' in UK aviation. The Government had chosen British Caledonian to be that carrier. British Caledonian would be the UK's flag carrier to South America. BCal would also have some impressive scheduled service destinations, but in the mid 1980s things were not looking good for them.
Dan-Air's route planning team had to work hard to find ways to increase the network without huge risks as the margins in the airline world are notoriously small. The prospect of deregulation was on the horizon and whilst airlines like Dan-Air were relishing the prospect of challenging legacy carriers like BA on a route by route basis, most independents were fearful at the prospect of the free-for-all that deregulation might bring.
New Routes & Improvements To Existing Routes
- January - Applied for weekly Gatwick-Lourdes service - January.
- London Heathrow - Manchester service commenced in direct competition with BA - April 1st
- Manchester - Inverness
- Manchester - Newcastle - Oslo service that connected at Newcastle with Bergen & Stavanger flights began
- Gatwick-Lourdes commenced - April 6th
- Gatwick - Munich services resumes 3 times weekly after break of 4 years - May 1st
- Manchester - Montpellier service begins - May 24th
- London Heathrow - Manchester service discontinued. August
- Gatwick - Innsbruck service begins - December 15th
- Dan Air applied to Civil Aviation Authority to serve Lisbon & Oporto from Manchester commencing 1987
- The company appealed against a rejection for the flights to operate from Gatwick - Lisbon
- Gained Civil Aviation Authority approval to operate London Gatwick - Santiago (Portugal) & Seville (Spain) subject to Portugese & Spanish government approval.
NETWORK & PRESS 1985
Dan Air carried 5,309,000 passengers in 1986 - up several thousand from the previous year. The network of scheduled services was seadily growing. This was in no small part to the UK government relaxing laws on how independent airlines could apply for routes. Dan-Air crossed swords with the CAA in January after the UK licencing authority had been investigating how to handle proposed increases in traffic up to the year 2000. The CAA had suggested that Charter traffic be shifted to Stanstead and that certain airlines should relocate their schedules from Heathrow to Gatwick. Dan-Air were not happy - In a swinging broadside they quipped "It is up to airlines to decide how they are going to cope with 80 milion passengers by 1995 ad 100 million by 2000."
My own source said:
'Who did they think they were? If traffic was going to grow why the hell should it be at the expense of airlines like Dan-Air? And why should charter passengers have had to suffered? That was exactly what I said previously. They didn't understand Dan-Air and I think they thought charter flights were second class.'
The Newcastle-Amsterdam service which the CAA had awarded to both Air UK and Dan Air in 1985 had been a hard fought battle with both airlines losing money by throwing everything they had at it to out do the other. As there was only 15 minutes difference in the departure times it was a brutal, pointless excercise that saw neither airline achieving dominence. As a result the two companies decided to share the route with each offering one flight in each direction each day instead of them both operating two returns each. Not that Newcastle was without Dan-Air destinations, their summer serivce to Jersey was very popular as was the one from Leeds/Bradford.
Dan-Air was never a boastful airline, it carried out its business efficiently and relied on its increasing reputation as a quality scheduled service operator. One touch that it deployed on Valentines day this year was to present every female passenger on a scheduled service with a rose. It was noted and word soon reached the press who reported the lovely gesture. March saw a reduction on the Aberdeen-Gatwick service. The morning and early evening flights would be unaffected but the lunchtime service was scrapped as it was losing money. This was not the case with the Cork - Jersey service which was profitable. Irish links were further strengthened when the Gatwick-Dublin service had three more weekly flights added to the network.
Charter services contunued to be regulated. For example, When UK airline Orion Airways applied to have 50% of its charter aircraft seats sold as seat only, its request was rejected. Orion was told to accept that it already had 15% of seats sold as seat only!! Since 1984 the oil support charters had faced a huge drop in numbers. Most airlines had seen a similar fall in the charters. One exception was British Air Ferries who had secured a £3m deal with Shell to take over from Alidair who went bankrupt in 1985. British Air Ferries was a relative new comer to the Oil charters. Air UK had been operating as a scheduled airline for six years. It announced that it was forming a charter airline of its own - Air UK Leisure. It would be funded by Unijet who were one of Dan-Air's biggest charterers.
Dan-Air had secured rights for a Manchester-Amsterdam service taking off in March. They would be offering lower prices on the route than KLM with flights from only £77 return. Dan-Air was keen to be part of the growth in Newcastle Airport. In March it could boast that it served nine routes from the city, as well as a considerable charter programme. There were echoes of the ill fated Manchester-Heathrow service when Dan-Air offered two for the price of one tickets as a special promotional fare as it commenced its Manchester-Amsterdam service. The £99 fare (for two) would run until May 31st. Dan-Air debuted a new slogan to go with its advertisements - 'We're Going Places'
The Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) received what was to be the ninth complaint about Dan-Air's policy of employing only female cabin crew. Dan-Air confirmed to the EOC that it was official company policy to employ only female cabin crew, but also they claimed that they did employ men on certain routes to carry out cabin crew duties. They were known as Load Masters. This time the EOC were not swallowing what was clearly an illegal policy. This story was to rumble on for quite some time. In May Dan-Air launched their new uniform. The uniform had been tweaked slightly over the previous eight years but a whole new look was premiered this year. Cornflower blue would remain as the main colour, the new uniform featured a brand new new hat design and a blouse print. Skirt lengths had to be changed to keep in line with current fashions. The double buttoned jacket had a redesign and now featured a single button. Sizes were also changed! The designers had discovered that the average uniform had gone from a 36-24-36 in 1978 to a hippier 36-24-38. No doubt the ladies were pleased at the changes. A male uniform would have to be selected for very soon in the future.
Dan-Air were furious in December when British Caledonian was granted rights in direct competition on their Aberdeen-Gatwick service. BCal had got around the rules by having a 15 minute stop in Manchester. It was known within aviation circles that British Caledonian was in serious financial difficulty. It was rumoured that a merger with SAS was on the cards. Harry Goodman, the owner of ILG had offered to buy the entire company for £36 million. He wanted the European routes and the slots at Gatwick. By now his company (Air Europe) had started scheduled operations. The CAA balked at the idea.
At the same time Britannia, Monarch and Orion had all launched scheduled services to sunshine routes to destinations such as Alicante and Palma. The semi deregulation of flights in the EU zone had brought large increases in the number of flights. As far as international flights were concerned the rule was that if one country agreed to an airline flying the route then it could go ahead. The Irish, who wished to protect their state owned, heavily subsidised airline, Aer Lingus, objected to Dan-Air and Ryanair flying across the Irish sea, Mrs.Thatcher's UK government gave them both approval, so the routes went ahead. Meanwhile as Heathrow was so busy the CAA decided to move some routes from the main London airport to Gatwick or Stanstead, as they had threatened to do the year previous. For domestic flights the criteria was to be the number of interline passengers the route had. So, for instance, 80% of Birmingham passengers went on to catch another flight immediately. In the case of Dan-Air's Inverness routes only 17% did. That was explained simply because the vast majority of passengers needed to go to London alone, for business or leisure. The route had been so popular for Dan Air that they desperately wanted to retain it. The CAA saw otherwise. This led to Dan-Air taking the matter all the way to the then Secretary Of State for Transport - Malcolm Rifkind, who would have the final say. Fortunately he backed Dan Air. The Civil Aviation Authority had such power that often an independent would have no redress other than to appeal to the Secretary of State. Ryanair had not yet become the giant that it is today, they did however start something of a price war on the Dublin - London route. Ryanair began flights to Luton for half of the present £208 return. The UK - Ireland routes were the most expensive per mile trips in the world. Dan Air, Aer Lingus and British Airways reduced fares initially to a little over £100, then Dan Air reduced them to £91. Days later Aer Lingus were offereing seats for £74 return. This was all done before the Irish Authorities had actually given approval. In the end the Irish Aviation Aurhority agreed that the airlines would be able to carry out their price reductions. Ryanair was kept at bay by being refused to increase the number of flights it offered until it could prove it could carry out what it was already operating. Ryanair had 94% load factors on its HS748 aircraft and were looking at leasing BAC 1-11s. As fares had been so traditionally high 60% of crossings between Ireland and the UK were by ferry. The ferry companies then entered the price war offering crossings for £79 including rail connections.
Airtours holidays signed a multi million pound deal with Dan-Air to charter two BAC 1-11 and a Boeing 727 200 for the winter and summer of 1987. Two of the aircraft were to be based at Manchester and one in Birmingham for Carousel Holidays.
The BAC 1-11 fleet was fitted with hush kits this year in an effort to make them quieter. There was no doubt that the aircraft suited Dan-Air's style of operation. The problem was that many of them were quite old. The BAe146 used a third less fuel than the 1-11. It used as much fuel as a Boeing 737 carrying 130 people. Depending on the model the 1-11 carried between only 82 passengers and a maximum of 119 on the largest 500 series. Oil charters continued to decline - The drop in this work saw a decline in the number of HS748 aircraft that the airline needed.
The BAe 146 fleet now totalled three and they had proved to be effective in the 100 seat market. This had presented opportunities for Dan-Air to replace the HS748 with it on many routes. Over the last few years the airline had been considering new aircraft. Fred Newman, the airline's Chairman, had stated that he was interested in the Boeing 757, stating that a 200 seat aircraft would suit their style of operation on high density charter routes. The McDonnel Douglas DC 9 Series 80 was also considered. Both aircraft had massive fuel efficiency savings compared to the 727 carrying roughly the same number of passengers. It was the preferred option of British Island Airways who, having broken away from Air UK were set on taking away Dan-Air's charter work by offering Tour Operators the same sized aircraft as Dan-Air's 727s at a greatly reduced rate. Dan-Air finally selected the Airbus A300. In true Dan-Air tradition, the first model was leased from Hapag Lloyd in Germany rather than obtained brand new! Initially the Airbus was used on Spanish and Canary Island charters. The aircraft was an instant hit and loved by crews.
NEW ROUTES & ROUTE CHANGES
- Manchester-Amsterdam service started - March 31st
- A300 G-BMNA start to enters servics - May
- Bristol-Amsterdam - Route cancelled after 8 years.
- Luxor charter flights begin - May
NETWORK & PRESS 1986
The year got off to a fiery start. The Dublin price war was nearing its climax. Ryanair were now selling seats on BAC 1-11 jets for £94:99 from Dublin to Luton. Dan-Air and Aer Lingus reduced their fares to £95 return to Gatwick and Heathrow. Dan-Air offered free hot meals and free bar, Aer Lingus gave snacks and hot drinks - Ryanair offered bar sales and the added inconvenience of travelling from Luton. The Inverness-Heathrow service continued to exceed all expectations. On Burns night all passengers on the service were fed Haggis with a free miniature of whiskey..
The airline was rocked in February when the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) made its final decision and ruled that Dan-Air had been in breach of of the law. It appears that a male applicant had been planted and when his rejection letter told him the company policy the EOC were able to investigate. I have to give full disclosure here. I was interviewed for a cabin crew post at this time. As a defence Dan-Air had claimed that it didn't recruit men because up to 30% of male cabin crew were homosexual. They also stated they thought cabin crew were generally promiscuous. Furthermore Dan-Air went on to say that because AIDS was spread by saliva and blood that there was a risk of infecting passengers. The EOC ordered that Dan-Air begin recruiting male cabin crew immediately. My disclosure comes at the way I was interviewed and some of the questions that were asked of me. It was a regrettable experience that tarnished etirely my view of the airline. Whilst the crews, I suspect with very few exceptions, would have a positive attitude to male crew some of the 'higher ups' including Arthur Larkman who wrote about it in his book. He actually believed this so called 'defence'. It was bad judgement on Dan-Air's part, inexcusable, insulting to even female cabin crew and uninformed. The airline deserved to be discredited. Experts at the hearing said Dan-Air were wrong to assume that anyone was at risk as the disease was not spread by food or food handling. The EOC they said general hygiene and common sense would be enough to stop any risk of passing on the disease. This was assuming that a person who had AIDS would be working. HIV could be carried for a long while before developing into AIDS. By which time it would be unlikely anyone would be in good enough health to work. Granted, HIV awareness was less than it is now, but simple research back then would have revealed the answers. Even the Trasport Unions carpeted Dan-Air saying that it was an insult to suggest that Cabin Crew were any more promiscuous than people employed in any other industry. At the time Dan-Air said they had relied on the words of their in house Doctor. Was this Doctor a HIV and AIDS specialist? Did Dan-Air or the Doctor engage with AIDS charities or organisations to find out facts? Dan-Air initially refused to comply with the EOC's recommendations, saying that by having to employ men they would be actively discriminating women! When confronted with evidence about the spread of the disease Arthur Larkman says in his book that the EOC had no experience in aircraft and galley conditions. Really? Did he believe that people were injecting drugs and having sex in the galleys? Of course he did not. The close proximity of cabin staff in a galley was no in any way a risk to anyone. How could it be?
From my own viewpoint; it seemed that a lot of middle aged men in middle and higher management simply preferred female cabin crew. At the time, no females were on the Dan-Air board of directors. Whilst Dan-Air boasted that they employed female pilots and praised them for making a success in a male dominated environment; they would not offer the same courtesy to cabin crew. Dan-Air had employed male cabin crew as 'loadmasters' who worked on routes where special duties may need to be carried out. That was to say on cargo flights and flights carrying oil workers. Cargo flights may require manual lifting. From every angle, even in the 1980s, this could be looked upon as blatent sexism. When forced into employing males crew these men had to endure the indignity of an AIDS test - something that no employee should ever have to undergo. According to Larkman, the first applicant tested positive for HIV - Not AIDS as has been claimed. The EOC rightly said that this was depriving people of their right to privacy. To which the airline pointed out that therefore every test was an depravation of privacy! Incidentally Arthur Larkman, whilst acknowledging that male cabin crew served the airline well, went on to write that his opinnion is unchanged! He even bemoaned that their proud record of employing female pilots had been somewhat hampered as British Airways knew that they had not employed female pilots. Following the EOC investigation BA went on to poach Dan-Air female pilots. One of Dan-Air's female pilots left the company to fly long haul Boeing 747 with British Airways. The only part of this lamentable story that can soften the blow is that it was the 1980s. Had there been a great deal of soul searching gone on by some people and opinions have changed. It might have been just a regrettable episode. To still have that opinion today when medication (PREP) is available that means an infected person cannot spread the disease is inexcusable.
Following the hearing the Dan-Air Stewardess were incensed. They had, in an open forum heard from Dan-Air that cabin crew were promiscuous. This was met by Dan-Air girls and Unions with fury. The Dan-Air board sent all stewardesses a bouquet of flowers and an apology letter. The unique releationship Dan-Air management had with all their staff had been put in serious jeopardy through ignorance. From a public relations point of view - this was a disaster - Some good news was needed.
The good news came when Andrew(Mitch) Young became Dan-Air's first male flight attendant in March. His first flight was from Inverness to Heathrow. A new uniform for male cabin crew was introduced and with each intake of new recruits men became visible. The spring campaign on the Aberdeen-Gatwick route saw the airline offering passengers free train travel to central London and two nights accomodation at any one of 180 hotels throughout the UK for every ticket purchased. For this they joined with Aer Lingus. The intention could not have been more obvious. They had to remove the threat that new upstart Ryanair posed. Ryanair offered the flight, a cup of coffee and a newspaper. For just one penny more you could have all this from Dan-Air or Aer Lingus. The cost of this campaign was in excess of £50,000. Dan-Air and Aer Lingus must have all thought the threat from Ryanair was very real. The Dublin-London route was traditionally a lucrative one with high fares and thus high profit, the last thing they wanted was to lose their profit to Ryanair. Dan-Air announced in January that it had carried a record 5,300,000 passengers, up 300,000 on the previous year. A new contract was signed with Kuoni Holidays for flights to be flown in Summer on the newly ordered Boeing 737 400 to Luxor. The company would then use the Boeing 727 for Winter flights to Luxor. Another upmarket Tour Operator to join the list of Dan-Air Tour Operators was Hayes and Jarvis.
One former male cabin staff told us; "I had applied before and travelled all the way from Scotland to London for my interview, I wanted to relocate anyway because I felt trapped in a fairly small town I am a gay man and I needed to experience city life. At the interview I was asked some very perculiar questions. I won't say who interviewed me, because she is still around, and I do really adore her. She knew the questions were bizarre. Without saying it she was trying to find out if I was gay or not, not that it bothered her as it happens. She asked if I would be prepared to take an AIDS test which I baulked at. I agreed because I was desperate to fly. As it happened it was the next day the company lost at a hearing. So I never had to have the test. As a matter of fact, I had the test regularly anyway, but that's another story. When it came to the training I knew I was with a great airline. They helped me find some temporary accomodation and I ended up sharing a house with two Dan-Air girls, I had five fantastic years with Dan-Air and I was never made to feel uncomfortable by any of the cabin crew. There were a few pilots who I knew weren't impressed with the boys. But we werent impressed with them either, and the girls felt the same way as us. We called them fossils and dinosaurs. One namless pilot once said to me that he was ok with gay men as long as they didn't try it on with him. My female collegue relplied 'He's not that desperate!!' After Dan was taken over I went to BA and did a year - but I resented what they had done to us. Our terms were not as good as those already at BA so I went to Virgin, where I am still flying today.'
In May this year Dan-Air gave another blow to competitors on the Dublin and Cork routes when they announced new fares of just £57 and £67 respectively. The only fare rule being that the flights be booked two weeks in advance. Full cabin service would be provided on all flights. Dan-Air's BAC 1-11 fleet did not have ovens, but the airline wanted to give a higher standard of catering to all its passengers. A system had been advised whereby meals were cooked in a convector oven before being sealed in containers. The containers could stay at their exact temperature for three hours. This solution meant that Dan-Air passengers could tuck into a hot breakfast or dinner while their competitors served their passengers snacks!
The Summer season brought a large increase in the number of passengers carried on charter services. The news carried stories of three separate incidents involving aircraft that had to divert due to unruly passenger behaviour. One four hour delay gave a passenger amplle time to drink his duty free and cause havoc on a BAC 1-11. A Boeing 727 had to divert to Toulouse after a 23 year old Welshman became so anxious he began pacing the aisle whilst smoking. When the crew instructed him to stay seated, he attempted to open the emergency door. This led to the aircraft landing and the passenger being kicked off. One similar problem arose when a passenger claimed to have a bomb, before attempting to open the main passenger door. September started with a 6 foot 5 inch Irishman who went beserk on a scheduled service. He tried to throttle a fellow passenger before thumping the first officer and attempting to open an over wing exit. These incidents are still happening on aircraft.
It came to the public's knowledge that British Caledonian were in a desperate financial state. They had been in secret talks with several companies with a view to a merger. SAS the Scandinavian giant airline had the offer that pleased Caledonian the most. They would keep the name and routes. This deal was all set to go when the UK Government stopped the take over. It wasn't that they wanted to, the European Union forbade an outside country from owning more than 40% of a member state's company. SAS were not interested in owning 39% of Caledonian. The deal was off. British Airways, by now fully privatised, was in a position to take control. The independents objected and the merger was referred to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission. The dilemna that the Government faced was that a very large airline employing over 6,000 people could go to the wall with job losses. Then there would be a scramble to carve up the routes between alll the other airlines. If BA bought BCal the government could attach conditions so that some of the routes would go to other UK airlines. The deal went ahead. British Airtours had been the charter division of BA for many years. This was to be scrapped and Caledonian (Not British Caledonian anymore) would be the new charter airline of BA. It was quite the insult to a once proud airline.
Dan-Air applied for the ex BCal Manchester-Gatwick and Manchester-Aberdeen services. It also had to evaluate how many of the Gatwick services to apply for. They had their eyes set on Gatwick-Glasgow - Gatwick-Edinburgh and Gatwick to several European cities.
Plans were drawn up to refurbish the fleets interiors. A company called Fliteform was recruited to overhaul current fleet's look. This involved new cabin walls and ceilings. The overhead luggage space was to be replaced with large modular luggage bins and the cabin seating was refitted with wide body look seats. Altogether, the fleet comprised of 50 plus aircraft. A new record of 5,481,000 passengers were carried. Dan Air joined IATA this year, giving them an enhanced status.
NEW ROUTES & ROUTE CHANGES:
- 4 April - Manchester-Lourdes service started - April 4th.
- Gatwick-Lisbon service started - May 4th.
- Gatwick - Toulon (South of France) Route approval
- Gatwick - Perpignan becomes all year route
NETWORK & PRESS 1987
The price war on the Gatwick-Dublin route became quite fierce. Dan-Air reducing its fares once again in early 1988, this time to an all time low of £66. Within days the price had dropped to £63. Following the BA takeover of British Caledonian several of their services were removed and put up for tender by other carriers. The Civil Aviation Authority had also taken some of British Airways' Gatwick services and they too available. Following the BCal takeover Virgin Atlantic was the only UK independent airline providing long haul scheduled flights. Even if any other carrier had ambitions to enter the arena, the Monopolies And Mergers Commission had not instructed the CAA to take any of the enlarged British Airways long haul services and offer them up for grabs. Air Europe, who did have desires to enter the long haul market would have to be content with fighting with Dan-Air, British Island Airways and other smaller airlines for the European routes on the table.
The domestic services were the first to become available - the highlands routes were highly sought after and in addition to Dan-Air airlines including Loganair, Air UK, British Island Airways and Virgin Airways all placed applications. It is not an understatment to say that the independents were horrified to find that the CAA made it clear that they would welcome applications from British Airways who had only just had the services taken off them! Dan-Air applied for Manchester-Aberdeen and Manchester-Gatwick late in 1987 and had been waiting to hear the results when they added further applications. In 1988 Dan-Air celebrated the fifth anniversary of the Inverness-Heathrow service by announcing that it was doubling the service on Saturday and Sunday to two flights each way and introducing a third daily flight on weekdays. The service had been such a great success for Dan-Air who had carried 110,000 passengers on the service in 1987. What surprised Dan-Air was the success of the cargo that was carried on the route. Loads included fresh salmon, lobster, and shellfish which was up 25% with 381 tons of those items alone carried. The demand for the seafood produce was exceptional with much of it heading to London restaurants and hotels. A great came boost for Dan-Air came in February when it was announced that the company had been successful with route applications from Gatwick to Alicante, Madrid, Ibiza and Mahon. The new flights would commence in May and would be operated by Boeing 737 aircraft, including the brand new 300 and 400 series aircraft, the latter of which had joined the fleet this year. The 11th February was the last day that applications to the CAA could be submitted and by waiting until the last day Dan-Air were hopeful that fewer airlines would apply. It would prove to be a worthwhile tactic. Dan-Air were confident that these applications would be successul, and that the services would go on to be profitable in a very short time. Provided fares could be priced at the right level and have good departure times, Dan-Air felt the services would be highly marketable. There had been an increase in the number of people with second homes at the destinations. Time shares were still enjoying good business and the number of independent travellers who rented villas and sought accomodation on arrival was also on the increase. Dan-Air had been squeezed out of some tour operator programmes as most of the major companies now had in-house airlines of their own.
would suit perfectly the growing number of people who had second homes in Spain or had time shares. The way people took holidays was beginning to change. Holiday makers were now renting apartments from publications such as Dalton's
In March Dan-Air applied to serve Gatwick-Nice Gatwick-Paris and Gatwick-Edinburgh. Dan-Air were also working with Continental Airlines, the major US carrier, feeding flights from regional UK airports into Gatwick for onward flights into the UK. Continental were also selling Dan-Air onward connections for American flights heading into Europe.
Dan-Air's press campaign for its scheduled services told potential customers that whilist some airlines offered great service at high prices in Business Class, others offered one class at a cheap rate with very little service. Dan-Air, they insisted were the only airline offering the entire cabin a Business Class service. This would include dedicated seating with improved seat pitch, a complimentary bar, hot meals on even short flights, hot towels and even free newspapers.
The Gatwick Zurich service had proved to be successful, when the service began there had been a daily service which was increased to twice daily, in April a third daily flight was added. Profits announced in April showed that the airline had made £9.1 million plus £1.4 million as a result of cash injections from the sale of surplus aircraft. The share price rose sharply to 490p, including a jump of 70p in a single day. Dan-Air stated that if the route applications were granted, four new aircraft lined up to operate the them. Air Europe made the decision to commence scheduled service operations, making their announcement with a great deal of fanfare. AE would attempt to go head to head with Dan-Air's appications on many routes. Dan Air were successful with their applications for Gatwick-Manchester and Manchester-Aberdeen. Loganair who thought they were well placed to win with their bid to fly Glasgow-Gatwick in fact lost out to Air UK. It wasn't only Loganair that were peeved at the decision. British Island Airways lost out with an application for the Gatwick-Nice route. Dan-Air went on record saying they would be expanding none stop from now unitl 1992.
A unique cloak and dagger charter occured in April when P&O ferries chartered a company Airbus A300 to fly 237 Ferry staff to Rotterdam to bring back two ferries that were stuck in the port after unions called a strike. The passengers had agreed to P&O's new rules. The secrecy of the operation was a result of Sealink also joining the action.
In May the CAA awarded Dan-Air licences to fly the Gatwick-Paris service and Air Europe won the Gatwick-Brussels licence. British Airways said "We are disappointed at a descision which appears not to be no consistent with a deisre for increased competition." They then went on to say "Our arguement at the hearing was that the main arbiter should be the consumer, and it is not necessarily the CAA that should make the choice for the consumer. If those carriers which wish to fly the route were licensed competition and the consumer would dictate preferences. This is particularly true on the Brussels route, where the Government specifically negotiated an agreement with Belgium which allows any carrier to operate at any frequency and any fare. Against that background the CAA has chosen to reduce competition by cutting the number of British carriers from two-British Caledonian and Air Europe - to one. It cannot be good for either consumer choice or the national interest."
The CAA said "Our decision to grant Dan Air's application for the Gatwick-Paris route was to encourage competition between services from Heathrow and from Gatwick. Both Dan-Air and Air Europe welcomed the CAA decision.
The Summer programme of charter flights was affected, as usual, by industrial action at various places. The worst of which was in Spain and Greece where Air Traffic Controllers went on strike. The ATC staff as always, chose the month that would have the maximum impact. Several Dan-Air aircraft had passengers sat for up to five hours on aircraft returning back to the UK. Greek controllers would only give flight crews ten minutes notice when a slot became free. One member of the operations team told Dan-Air Remembered:
'We had problems every year with one country or another. I remember the Spanish and Greek problems in 1988 vividly. Air traffic controllers were on strike and Manchester had been badly affected with nearly flights delayed. As well as our passengers, nearly 30,000 others had been delayed at that one airport, Birmingham and Luton had their fair share too. With all that chaos, a Boeing 737 then went tech at Newcastle. We had 126 passengers headed for Corfu when the engine developed a major fault. Engineers thought they could fix it on the ground but they couldn't manage it. The flight was due out at 2235 and by the time we had a replacement engine fitted it was Nearly 7pm the next evening. People had been getting angry because we hadn't put them up in hotels - but that was because we thought we could fix it. It's was not just that flight that was hit though. Our aircraft worked 12-13 hours a day and that one had been out of action for 20 hours. It took days before things got back in order. The Greek dispute was sorted out pretty quickly. But no sooner had we got things right by the Thursday then we had to go through it all again for the second week of the Spanish strike action. No sooner had that eased when the baggage handlers in Spain went on strike."
Mid June saw the CAA decision to award Dan-Air the Gatwick-Nice service. Whilst British Airways fumed it is fair to say that Champagne corks were popping in Dan-Air's offices. British Island Airways did not join in the celebrations either and launched an appeal against the Nice decision. Late June saw the Gatwick-Manchester and Aberdeen-Manchester licences gain approval, giving more reasons for Dan-Air to celebrate. The Inverness-Heathrow service continued to break records. The route was flown by 20,000 extra people this year, bringing the total to 130,000 in a single year. Fares on the Gatwick-Nice service were announced with one way offers from £125.
December saw three Boeing 737 400 join the fleet. They would immediately commence service on the scheduled network as well as supplementing the winter charter programme.
The troubles in Northern Ireland were a constant heeadache for all airports and airlines flying in and out of the province. A Dan Air Boeing 727 had flown 170 children and their minders into Geneva for a school holiday. As the aircraft boarded to return home the airline had a call from a man claiming to be from the IRA. He said the airport had 15 minutes to clear the aircraft before it would be blown up. The call was in fact a hoax and although the aircraft was evacuated no device was discovered.
1988 saw the beginning of a bitter rivalry between Dan-Air and Air Europe made public knowledge. Dan-Air had, for many years, been the major carrier of Intasun holidays' flights. When Intasun began its own airline in 1978 it did not pose much of a threat to Dan-Air, although passenger numbers did drop when Air Europe commenced operations. With only two aircraft Air Europe couldn't fly more than four return flights a day. ILG with their many tour operatos would still need Dan-Air to carry out the vast majority of its flights. In any event, new contracts were found with new operators and those who wished to expand. With scheduled services on the increase the two airlines were able to live side by side.
Air Europe had, until 1987, been operating the majority of its business as charter flights (80%) They started their offensive in 1988 by changing their handling agent at Gatwick from Gatwick Handling to Servisair. Gatwick Handling was half owned by Dan-Air. Over thier ten year history Air Europe had grown in size, and now had a fleet of 30 aircraft, with several more on order including the MD11 for long haul flights and the Fokker 100 which they would operate European Scheduled services from Gatwick. They also flew the Boeing 737 and were now an obvious threat to Dan-Air's charter business. Air Europe were now threatening them on Scheduled Servies too. British Airways had complained that its market share was being eaten away by Air Europe. However the CAA pointed out that BA's Heathrow operation was entirely protected. In 1988 the CAA then awarded Air Europe licences to fly on the Gatwick-Paris route in direct competition with Dan-Air. Air Europe also had an eye on many other key routes. The Intasun brand had now become the second largest Tour Operator in the UK, its parent company ILG had several off shoot tour operators too including Club 18-30, and Lancaster in fact, far too many holidays were sold than Air Europe could fly. Consequently as many as six Dan-Air aircraft were chartered by ILG to fly its holiday passengers.
The introduction of the Boeing 737 400 series was seen as a major breaksthrough. The operating costs of the 400 series were dramatically less than the Boeing 727s. In particular the 100 series. Realising this, Dan-Air had to seriously look at consolidating the fleet into a more modern, fuel efficient type. More 146 aircraft were on order. These would replace some of the ageing BAC 1-11s.
This year the Gatwick hanger, that had cost £5,000,000 was officially opened. The hanger was capable of providing maintenance on aircraft up to the size of Boeing 747. The hanger increased Dan-Air Engineering's capacity allowing for maintenance to be carried out on widebody aircraft including the Boeing 747. The Gatwick Engineering base was the third of its type. The others being at Lasham and Manchester.
In an effort to show how much the airline had progressed with scheduled services over the last few years Dan-Air introduced a new business class to some of their flights. 'Class Elite' became the gold standard in European Business Class for the next few years. The service was truly second to none and is now widely regarded as being the best in the sky.
The new business class offered dedicated check in desks, the use of business lounges at airports, priority boarding, a dedicated area of the cabin with centre seats replaced with a table. Improved seating was standard as was extra leg room, complimentary drinks including champagne and superior catering. There was to be a higher ratio of cabin crew per passenger and a frequent flier programme offering rewards to passengers. There was even a free taxi service from Gatwick. Air Europe then decided to follow suit with it's "Premier Class". Dan-Air's passenger numbers had risen to 5,809,000. With so much to celebrate it was sad when Horizon Holidays' and its own airline Orion were bought out by Thomson Holidays. Thomson had never been one of Dan-Air's chosen airlines. Obviously the majority of work was handled by Britannia, Horizon however did use Dan-Air - t
NEW ROUTES & ROUTE CHANGES
- Gatwick - Madrid service commences - May 1st.
- Gatwick - Ibiza service commences - May 1st.
- Gatwick - Mahon service commences - May 16th.
- Gatwick - Nice - service commences - October 23rd.
- Manchester - Aberdeen service commences October 23rd.
- Gatwick - Paris Charles De Gaulle - October
- Gatwick - Manchester - Service Commences - October
NETWORK & PRESS 1988
The recently delivered Boeing 737 400 had entered servicewith Dan-Air in 1989. The aircraft had been performing well. In January 1989 a British Midland Airways example of the type crashed just short of the runway at East Midlands. As a precautionary measure all 737 400s were grounded while checks were carried out. Dan Air had voluntarily withdrew the aircraft from service. There had been an issue with warning lights that indicated problems with engines. When the pilot of the BMA aircraft closed down an engine following a fire he closed down the working engine. This was not his fault, it had been a wiring problem. The aircraft were out of service for a short time before resuming flying. The Inverness-Heathrow service continued to thrive. As well as adding an additional daily flight Dan-Air announced it would be using a BAC 1-11 500 series, replacing the 200 series. That would be an increase of capacity from 82 to 104 seats. Air Ecosse had recently been purchased by Peregrine Air Services and the newly financed airline planned to restart it closed Aberdeen-Manchester service. At the time British Airways and Dan-Air were both serving the two points. Air Ecosse would be flying at different times of the day and said they posed no threat to the other airlines. In Ireland, the Gatwick-Cork service was dropped. Dan-Air placed a positive spin on the bad news by saying that they had been unable to get the timings that they needed or the frequencies to enable them to develop the route. Instead Dan-air would be focusing on the Gatwick-Dublin service. Dan-Air said jobs would therefore be safe. Dan-Air would be increasing services on the route and featuring the new 'Class Elite' on all flights.
The thorny topic of licences emerged again in February. A fairly new airline Scottish European Airways applied for several routes from Newcastle. Dan-Air objected to them all, even though it didn't presently fly to any of the route aplied for other than Gothenburg which Dan-Air chose not to operate anyhow. Dan-Air claimed it was their policy to object to all newcomers. Whilst Scottish European said it couldn't think of any reason why Dan-Air would object apart from protectionism. Meanwhile several companies in the Orkney Islands had got together to ask Dan Air to apply to fly to Wick and Kirkwall from the mainland, as they were not happy with the level of service, not fares that current operator British Airways were offering.
The forthcoming Summer season was looking poor for several operators, in particular those flying from Newcastle. Thomson holidays had expected to sell over 3.9 million holidays this year, an increase of 10 per cent. The brochures had been out since August and the revised figure was reduced to 3 million. Thomsons had axed 800,000 holidays, shortly followed by Cosmos and Hotizon who dropped a further 200,000 from their own programmes. Intasun chartered by far the biggest share of Dan-Air aircraft, but they too had noticed a downturn in short haul bookings but an increase in Mexican and American holidays. These reductions did affect Dan-Air as far as Cosmos and Intasun were concerned. The increase in scheduled flights did make up the shortfall.
Red faced Dan-Air officials could not understand why a company HS 748 carrying 33 passengers landed at a disused American WW2 base in Northern Ireland. The aircraft was not damaged but was sitting on a runway two miles away from where it should have landed. Capatin Reg Hood who was Newcastle based had not issued a may day and there was no 'technical' reason for the landing. The two pilots were flown to London for an internal investigation. Dan-Air claimed they were informed that the weather was hellish with driving rain. Despite the Met office saying it was 'good but with low cloud'.
British Airways pulled out of the Aberdeen - Jersey route, which would be filled by Dan-air in May when they would be introducing jet aircraft onto the route. Inverness-Manchester was reintroduced after a two year gap with good yields from the start. Sortly after starting services the BAC 1-11 400 was replaced by a 500 with seat increases from 89-99.
Pre Tax profits were recorded of £9.9 million. Including £1.3 million from aircraft sales. The turnover was marginally increased by £9m from £330m to £339m. The charter division consisting of 30 aircraft was doing exceptionally well with one week in this financial year seeing 450 return flights out of the UK. Cosmos Holidays began selling holidays to Palma from RAF Manston on Dan-Air BAC 1-11. The RAF airbase recently relaxed its rules on commercial flying. A second flight soon following using Dan-Air Boeing 737s. Dan-Air were now offering champagne breaksfast on their scheduled services, and they were promoting the Class Elite service more through press adverts.
Dan-Air suffered negative press when it emerged that a Boeing 727 200 that Dan-Air had bought two years ago had been written off in an accident whilst in the service of Mexicana. The 16 year old aircraft had been fully repaired by Dan-Air Engineering who George Yeoman head of Public Relations said "Were second to none". The repair had taken 24,000 man hours. The aircraft was featured on ITV's World In Action who did a reasonable hatchet job on the aircraft.
Captain Elizabeth Overbury retired this year. Dan Air had a fine reputation with female pilots last year Lyn Roberts left for British Airways. Captain Yvonne Sinntes retired in the early 1980s and now Elizabeth retired. She flew her last flight aboard a HS 748 into Newcastle.
The increase of alcohol related trouble on board Dan-Air charter had grew to a frightening level with 30 passengers having been removed from their aircraft by the end of August. The trades unions were urging Dan-Air management to instigate a rationing scheme, limiting passengers to two drinks per flight on short haul services. Dan Air in fact issued crews with plastic wrist straps that would restrict a passenger to their seat until the aircraft landed.
Group profits for the first half of the years showed a large loss. This was standard within the company, but trading set for the Summer was down. Turnover was up 16% at £163m, whilst losses were at almost £8m from £1.7m the previous year. Two of the airline's Airbus A300 were sold at profit over their book price and one was immediately leased back for the upcoming Summer programme of charter services. The Zurich scheduled service was provinng a success and an exxtra daily service was added bringing the number to three daily.
Further problems hampered the Boeing 737 300/400 one example belonging to USAir crashed in America. Boeing asked all operators worldwide to report if there had been any faults. Dan-Air had two such incidents one in mid air. Now it seemed that not only had there been rewiring issues with engines, but that rudder controls had been installed incorrectly. Dan-Air were able to modify the fault before any further incidents. It did mean that with two aircraft grounded Dan-Air had to sub charter aircraft for the short period.
Although it had been decided that the Boeing 727 should be replaced by the Boeing 737, replacements were not so easy to find. Further charters had come Dan-Air's way. Extra aircraft were needed. This resulted in the addition of two Boeing 727 200 and a further new Boeing 737 400 series. For the first time in the company's history more than six million passengers were flown (6,276,000) 'Class Elite' was rolled out onto more flights, with Dublin, Zurich, Madrid, Toulouse and Lisbon now served. In October, Dan-Air chartered two Boeing 727-100s and crews to the new Imperial Air Cruising Company set up by Target Marketing to offer a highly luxurious tour service. Three tours were offered: The 7 day cruise took in Paris, Vienna and Moscow; a 12-day trip called at Vienna, Istanbul, Luxor, Cairo, and Rome and the 30-day cruise visited Cairo, Luxor, New Delhi, Bangkok, Beijing, Hong Kong, Singapore, Phuket, Kathmandu, Tashkent, Moscow, and Paris. The aircraft were re-configured with 75 executive style seats instead of the normal 140. All flights operated in daylight, and the captain hosted cocktail parties and formal dinners on some of the longer stopovers. The cruise service was scheduled through to May 1990.
The threat posed by Air Europe grew even greater this year when its parent company, Intasun, announced it was reducing the six aircraft it chartered from Dan-Air by half to just three. It stated in public that it did not wish to use Dan-Air's "Old, gas guzzling jets". This was a severe blow to Dan-Air. The Boeing 727 aircraft in question had been time charters. This meant that they were used exclusively for Intasun. Each one was capable of carrying 189 passengers; The six aircraft would make roughly two return fllights a day, over a six month summer this would translate as losing almost 150,000 passengers.
Further pressure was applied when Air Europe withdrew it's engineering contract from Dan-Air Engineering. Air Europe succesfully applied for several routes that British Airways had been forced to drop when it took over British Caledonian. It now went head to head with Dan-Air on the Gatwick-Paris route and Gatwick-Jersey service. Dan-Air had been successful with many of the route applications it had placed with the CAA. For the first time since 1981/82 the company made an operating loss of £3m, compared to a £10m profit the year before. But darker times still lay ahead.
NEW ROUTES & ROUTES CHANGES
- Gatwick - Dublin - Increased weekly services from 9 to 12 - March 26th.
- Gatwick - Cork - Service withdrawn
- Manchester-Berne - Weekly service from December 17th - March 18th 1990 for use of winter sports travellers.
NETWORK & PRESS 1989
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