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The decision to scrap all remaining services flown from Lydd into the Channel Islands was completed this year. the runways were not up to standards and the load factors were unsatisfactory. All of the Lydd operation would transfer to Gatwick. The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) had to approve this, along with an application to offer Advance Purchase Excursion Fares (APEX) on the Aberdeen-Gatwick service, which had been a runaway success since its inception. The APEX fare would be just ten pence more than the second class rail fare between the two cities. It was £10 cheaper than British Airways' flight between Heathrow and Aberdeen.  The Newcastle-Dublin service was launched in April with fares as low as £69 return. For two nights over the On Burns Night period, passengers would be given shortbread and a 'drop of the waters'. Dan-Air were also pleased to be secure a two year deal with Shell UK for the charter of two HS-748 aircraft. Strengthening the position as the number one airline for oil related charter flights.
Air Anglia, British Island Airways Air Westward and Air Wales completed their merger and commenced operations at the end of January. The new carrier was called Air UK their combined fleet consisted of 36 aircraft. The airline styled itself as the 'third force' in British aviation. As a group, the airline was sizable. It was felt that the airline would go on to have considerable strength as a regional player. At the time, the carrier showed no interest in charter fligts to the sun. It would pose a threat to Dan-Air's scheduled network.

A new livery had begun to appear on aircraft from 1979. As each aircraft underwent regular maintenance the new colours were applied. Several aircraft, including BAC 1-11, HS-748 and Viscount had the livery applied. Some of the last Comets that were scheduled to leave the fleet no later than the end of 1980 were seen wearing it. There remained just four Comets at the start of the year, the aircraft were seen less and less and were mainly  used as replacement aircraft when a regular airliner had technical issues.
One such Comet was bought by  RAF and went on to become the first RAF Nimrod.

G-BDAN in 1978 (left) and with its new livery in 1980
In 1980 it was finally decided that the Boeing 737 would join the fleet. It is not without some irony that its introduction came less than a year after Fred Newman had flatly refused to purchase the aircraft which had resulted in three senior boardroom members had left the company in protest. With Martin O'Regan and Errol Cossey now running Air Europe which had got off to a flying start using the 737 and Alan Snudden at Monarch who had also ordered the aircraft it became imperative that Dan-Air operate the type. Negotiations Air Quebec in Canada, and Norway's Maersk Air were underway in early 1980 with a view to acquiring second-hand 737s . The Maersk Air 737 was more suitable to the airline's requirements and a deal was arranged to finance the purchase. As the new aircraft was not due to enter service until the Summer, after purchasing the aircraft it was leased for a short period to Nigeria Airways. Once the aircraft joined the Dan-Air fleet, it was chartered for the whole season by Thomas Cook. A second example was also quickly sourced.

The inquiry into the Sumburgh accident in 1979 was to be held at Aberdeen in April this year. the announcement in February said that more that a hundred people would be making statements at the inquiry, this resulted in the location being moved from Shetland to the mainland city in order to be able to accommodate those attending.
The Civil Aviation Authority relaxed rules on fares this year. There would also be less restrictions on overseas flights, allowing greater liberalisation of flights between any two countries. Something Dan-Air were keen to take advantage of. Lower fares were introduced, which finally broke the strangle-hold that legacy carriers had had with air-fares in Europe. Dan-Air were able to introduce Spouse Fares - Super Saver - Excursion Fares - Latesaver and Last Minute Fares. The spouse fare would allow the other half of a married couple to travel at a 50% discount on domestic flights.
The number of airports serving the Isle of Man was reduced to nine. Dan-Air were able to offer 20% reductions on off season fares. The CAA then imposed an increase in fares of 28% which was a terrible blow to the carrier. To counter balance, this Dan-Air offered half price tickets for husbands and wives of business travellers.  The increase in fares led to a barrage of criticism 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 or couldn't pay the fare. The agents suggested a fare of £78. Dan-Air had negotiated with the CAA and were approved to offer 'Latesaver' fares (June 1980). 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. Mile for mile it was the most expensive sea crossing in the World.  It was Dan-Air's hope that they could break the stranglehold enjoyed by British Airways and Aer Lingus. Links between the two countries had always been an exceptionally strong, consequently the air routes and sea routes were also extremely busy. The two nations are important trading partners. With a Conservative government  it was felt 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, Dan-Air was about to change that.The Aberdeen-Gatwick service 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 flights connecting Pan Am and Delta flights to New York Houston and Atlanta. A partnership with Braniff was enabled for passengers wishing to travel to Texas. Liverpool had not been served by Dan-Air for scheduled flights since 1976.

The two new rival charter airlines on the scene had created quite an impact. Air Europe were flying charter flights for Intasun, who had released their biggest ever Summer programme. Intasun would still be Dan-Air's largest client, requiring six aircraft operating for Intasun alone. Air Europe were not only carrying Intasun passengers, Air Europe would be carrying out 30% of their flights for other Tour Operators. In one example, Exchange Travel's twice weekly  flights to Gibraltar would use Air Europe, this was a contract that Dan-Air had undertaken for several years.
Within the boardroom the matter was discussed at length. Press reports claimed that Fred Newman had been told that new operators were effectively taking their food from their mouths. It was alleged that he 'faced a barrage of criticism from directors for not acting more swiftly. As a result, a new strategy was adopted to meet the challenges head on. The adapted livery which had begun to appear on aircraft was shelved. The new Boeing 727s would have a completely new interior that would be applied to the entire fleet over the next year. Interiors would have new 'wide-body' seats installed. New carpets, lighting, cabin walls and ceilings, galleys and toilets. This was a costly project, set to cost millions. A striking new livery in red and blue was applied to the 727 200. Over the next few weeks the artwork began to appear on tickets, letters and airport signs. The corporate makeover would give the company a more contemporary look.

Three Boeing 727 200 would join the fleet in March, two from Sterling Airways and third from Singapore Airlines. The 200 series was a much improved version of the 727 with increased seating, capable of carrying 189 passengers. It was announced that the type could fly further than any other type in the fleet. Just three Comets now remained in the fleet.
Fifteen flights a week would operate from Belfast from April with five flights each to Cardiff, Bristol and Newcastle. A Hawker Siddeley 748 would operate the flights.

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 examined the company in depth. Over a two month period, representatives from nine airlines probed every aspect of the airline's operation. Dan-Air was noted as being exceptional in how they managed to operate such a diverse business. Few airlines could handle, not only the different types of aircraft, but the varients within each type. For example. The BAC 1-11 had 200, 300, 400 and 500 series. Within the 400 series Dan-Air had the 470 version. HS 748s had three variations and so on. When the Boeing 737 joined the fleet, there had been fears that the cabins should be consolidated, so that they would all have exactly the same layout. This was rejected as Dan-Air's cabin crew were not only trained on one type, but variations within it! Dan-Air handled charter fleets and scheduled fleets. Each aircraft type operated its own costed operation, as did each base. Engineering was carried out in three bases with a world class reputation.  The CAA probe found nothing out of the ordinary and the airline was able to continue as it already was.
The Boeing 737 joined the fleet in summer.  As mentioned previously, board members had tried to force Fred Newman to order the twin jet, Newman had resisted and the board members resigned. Tour Operator Thomas Cook had also strongly urged him to order them by insisting that Thomas Cook wanted to fly their holiday-makers on the type, and that Cooks would charter aircraft from an airline that had them if Dan-air wouldn't obtain them. One of our Pilot contribitors recalls;

"Thomas Cook was one of our 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 and Comets did, but they cost a lot more to fly, and required more passengers to be profitable. There wasn't an aircraft in the fleet 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 our aircraft. Obviously the Comet would have scored badly, but all but one or two of them had gone by now. Cooks came to us and laid the law down. They wanted 737s and if we didn't get them they would go to an airline that did. Simple as that. We didn't operate every Cooks flight. They used several airlines and Air Europe was one of them. Air Europe had hit the ground running with the introdution of much improved meals on board and a very high level of service. Several of their key players were ex Dan-Air. I'm not saying there was a haemorrhage of our personel, but senior stewardesses had been poached and quite a number of pilots. As much as the Comet was a beautiful aircraft, the thrill of flying a high performance, brand new Boeing 737 was incredibly tempting.  I was approached by a friend who had left and told how great Air Europe was and that they had visions of long haul flights in the not too distant future. I was told that a job was waiting for me if I wanted it. Something stopped me, perhaps loyalty to the company or fear of the unknown. Still, I am glad I stayed with Dan'

A manager from the charter department says;
'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 also the owners of Thomas Cook. Fred Newman was a delightful chap, but he could be stubborn. He would say that we were offering the same rates as other carriers, so he didn't see a problem with our fleet. I think he was shocked at how direct Cooks were. Dan-Air was a thoroughly professional airline and Thomas Cook could find no fault in the way we worked. It was just some of the fleet they didn't like. I was informed rather haugtily by a manager that - We've dropped the Comet, what more do they want? I think holiday flying was about to change dramatically and I'm not sure some of the old boys were ready. "

The Boeing 737 that joined the Dan-Air fleet was just two years old. It was 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.

It is true that Dan-Air were losing both staff and business to other carriers. Air Europe with a tiny fleet of three aircraft, was able to report in April this year that they had made a pre-tax profit of £1,059,000 from July on 1978 to October 29th 1979. At the half year end in November, Air Europe posted a pre-tax profit of £,2,000,000.
Air Europe had only began flying in May 1979 and the Boeing 737s they operated had made a revenue of £8,000,000 by October. A total of 135,000 passengers had flown with the carrier in that period. Martin O'Regan said 'Our excellent finacial performance in the first season shows that the decision to start a new airline was made at the right time. It also demonstrates that the acquisition of new low-noise jets from scratch and the determination to provide above average cabin service was in line with the demands  of tour operators and clients.'

There can be no doubt that this was a thinly veiled attack on other airlines who did not a comparable fleet. In November Air Europe applied to operate a scheduled service from Manchester to Miami. This would mean the company would need to acquire long-range aircraft.

Meanwhile, the local Tyneside Council paid Dan-Air £25,000 to subsidise some of its Norwegian flights from Newcastle-Bergen. 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. Dan-Air said 'You don't have to be an accountant to work out that two full flights operating a week is more profitable than four half empty ones.' The Tyne Wear County Council offered to repeat their subsidy the following year.
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' fare would be introduced on all Channel Islands routes with prices to Jersey from Gatwick from as little as £24 one way. Since taking the Aberdeen-Gatwick service from BA last year, Dan-Air had doubled the amount of pasengers carried on the service. In April alone more than 5,000 people travelled on the route, which operated eleven flights a week.  So popular was that service, it was noted that several passengers deserted  BA's Aberdeen-Heathrow route in favour of the Gatwick service. In an attempt to stop the drainage of their passengers,  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 they were 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, meanwhile, did not guarantee even a seat on a flight.
The Scheduled services that were carried out to 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.British Airways' decision to drop their Newcastle to Belfast, Bristol and Cardiff proved successful with Dan-air being awarded licenses on the routes. There would be five flights a week on each of the services. Discounts would be offered.

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 survived would also give evidence. The two week hearing heard that the Pilot had given approval for the co-pilot be in control of the aircraft for take off take off. Technically he was qualified to do so. Dan-Air's own internal ruling was that only first officers with more than 100 hours could carry out the take off and landing. The first officer did not have the flying 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 column to llift the aircraft from the ground. This was a dreadful time for the airline with Dan-Air being in the spotlight for the wrong reasons.

On April 25th while the Sumburgh crash hearing was underway,  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.
The flight had been uneventful and was on approach to the island. It took more than a year for the crash investigation to be completed. Dan-Air was not to blame for the crash. The aircraft had been given erronious instructions by Air Traffic Controllers. Five stewardesses were among those that perished.

Left-Right Kerry Worthington (24) Heswell - Pat Sergeant (28) Wakefield - Margaret Royal (30) Manchester - Melanie French (21) Manchester - Jane Dalton (21) Alsager

Melanie's Brother said 'She couldn't wait to get into the air, she applied to British Airways when she was eighteen and they told her to come back when she was twenty one. She didn't want to wait that long so she applied to Dan-Air' Early indications from Spanish Authorities claimed the aircraft flaps and undercarriage were up, all engines were normal, which would incated that the aircraft was stacked or diverted to the island's other airport. Captain Bob Atkins, in Tenerife, said 'That's totally untrue, we know it was not being diverted. Captain Arthur 'red' Whelan had been with Dan-Air for ten years. He had 14,000 flying hours to his credit and had flown with the Fleet Air Arm in the Korean War. Captain Whelan, a batchelor aged 51, was described by a his friend Reg Poploe  'So precise, 'Red' would never have made a mistake, I will notaccept that he was capable of any human error.'

Above: Captain Arthur 'Red' Whelan (51) Halesowen West Midlands.
Captain Whelan's family lashed out at Travel firms for using a 'dangerous' airport to save money. They claimed that Captain Whelan had only said a few days before the crash that it would take another disaster to happen before they would switch to another airport on the island. His Brother, David said 'I know iin my own mind that he, and the other 145 people on board that aircraft would still be alive today if they had used the southern airport. David would not accept that it was pilot error. He said the black box had not even been found before the accusations were made. He claimed that Tour Operators didn't wish to use the southern airport as it would mean that they would have to pay more for coaches to ferry holiday-makers to their hotels in the North. David went on to say that the airport had a bad safety record and that pilots were fearful of it. 'My brother was very calm and collected, he had been flying for thirty years and had flown into Tenerife many times, an island he liked. If there had been any technical issue with the aircraft it would have been much easier to land at the southern airport because it is at sea level. If it had been too cloudy, he would have had the presence of mind to have flown to another airport. I believe it was a possibility that the Spanish could not understand English properly - hence the confusion over whether a May Day message was sent. Tenerife radar is not up to the standards of British equipment. The fact that they started looking for the aircraft in the sea and did not know where for plane was for several hours amazes me.'
Dan-Air said the aircraft had been ordered to divert to another airport, this was denied by Spanish Authorities. Chief Pilot Captain Bob Atkins said 'reports that Capt Whelan had sent out a 'May Day' message were completeley false.'
British politicians claimed that the Spanish Authority was 'Quick to jump the gun and accused the crew of pilot error.'
Dan-Air's spokesman said that there had been a delay in returning the bodies back to the UK as Spanish law prohibited bodies leaving Spain until they had been positively identified. This had been hampered because the impact of the crash had caused bodies to be scattered over a large distance.  The black box had been recovered and was believed to be in Madrid. The voice recorder would reveal whether the crew had sent a 'Mayday' message and also whether the aircraft had taken any steps to avoid the crash. Conversations between the flight deck and the air traffic controllers had all been recorded. The last communication from the air traffic control was at 2:19pm local time and that the airliner made contact with the tower at 2:21pm
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 examined the company in depth. Over a two month period, representatives from nine airlines probed every aspect of the airline's operation. Dan-Air was noted as being exceptional in how they managed to operate such a diverse business. Few airlines could handle, not only the different types of aircraft, but the varients within each type. For example. The BAC 1-11 had 200, 300, 400 and 500 series. Within the 400 series Dan-Air had the 470 version. HS 748s had three variations and so on. When the Boeing 737 joined the fleet, there had been fears that the cabins should be consolidated, so that they would all have exactly the same layout. This was rejected as Dan-Air's cabin crew were not only trained on one type, but variations within it! Dan-Air handled charter fleets and scheduled fleets. Each aircraft type operated its own costed operation, as did each base. Engineering was carried out in three bases with a world class reputation.  The CAA probe found nothing out of the ordinary and the airline was able to continue as it already was.

At the end of April Davies and Newman posted end of year profits up from £1,807,000 to £3,561,000 whilstturnover had risen from £117,505,000 to £129,487,000. 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. a spokesman said 'Profits benefitted from increased efficiency and a booming demand for charter seats for package holidays. Britain may be good at talking itself into a depression, but the  British family still expects to have its holiday abroad.'
It is remarkable that an airline with more than fifty aircraft posted a pre-tax profit of £3.6 million and that an airline with three aircraft had posted six month pre-tax profits of £2 million.

The mass funeral for 120 of the victims of the Tenerife crash was held on 12th May at Manchester's Southern Cemetery. The funeral was paid for by Dan-Air and it was understood that the other twenty six victims had decided to make their own arrangements. The memorial service was held at Manchester Cathederal the day before and was attended by 800 friends and relatives. Also attending were senior management from Dan-Air. Stewardesses sobbed in memory for their colleagues. The address was made by the Right Rev. Stanley Booth Clibborn.

In July the company stationed a Hawker Siddeley 748 permanently at Speke to carry out late night mail flights, having gained approval from Royal Mail to carry out postal flights. For the first time, a Royal Mail logo was applied to a company aircraft. The airport was seeking to provide cargo flights, Dan-Air was hopeful that the aircraft wouldn't be standing idle during the day, fortunately, Cathedral Tours of Liverpool found use for the 748 when they chartered it for one night breaks in Amsterdam.
Royal Mail asked Dan-Air to fly postal night flights from Aberdeen to London in August. The Aberdeen services had been a phenomenal success with Dan-Air saying the route would be their 'Blue Ribbon Route'. This would mean that the service would have the highest priority when the airline expanded any services. Whilst the Berlin base was a great success, talks were being prepared to enable a scheduled service to operate from Berlin to Amsterdam. This flight would link several UK cities to Berlin. Mail would also be carried out on the flights, should they be approved.

In August Dan-Air were faced with a dilemma. The Aberdeen-Gatwick service had been a runaway success with load factors of 80%. Altogether 98 flights had been carried out with 6,000 passengers tin July, more than double the number British Airways had carried in the previous July. Since Dan-Air took on the route, 40,000 passengers had been flown compared to 24,000 the previous year when BA had the licence. Latesaver fares were cheaper than the standard rail fare. Dan-Air did not know whether to add extra flights on they said, or to operate the flights with larger aircraft.  In the end it was decided to add an extra return flight every day, bringing the total to three daily round trips.
The Newcastle-Gatwick service had previously only operated weekdays, from September a Saturday and Sunday flight was added to the timetable.
Applications were submitted to the CAA to slash 'Latesaver' fares. Reductions on Bristol to Paris or Amsterdam would be down to £40 from £68:50. regular one way fares would drop to £60. Similar prices would be offered to Cork.

Residents in Dyce near to Aberdeen Airport combined to demand less noise from visiting aircraft. Traffic at the airport had increased sustantially and residents were not happy. British Airways admitted the BAC 1-11 was a particularly noisy type. Dan-Air said that they had ordered 'hush kits' when they were fitted it was claimed the noise levels would be more than acceptable.
The six month trade figures showed that Dan-Air had made a loss of £716,000 against last years £590,000. But this certainly did not mean that Dan-Air had experienced a bad year. Full year figures due in April next year were expected to less than last year though. Chairman, Fred Newman commented; 'Vigorous efferts are being made to deal with the situation and so counter the effects of the recession, which has effected all UK airlines. The vigorous efforts would include redundancies he said.

the Government, elected in 1979, announced that British Airways will soon be privatised. This caused anxiety amongst the UK charter and scheduled airlines. BA would now be free to use its financial muscle to crush opposition. However the UK Government broke a cartell on the London-Hong Kong service when it allowed British Caledonian and Laker to fly 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, 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. Twenty HS748s and two Vickers Viscounts worked on scheduled services as well as the Oil Related Charter Flights.
The last two remaining Comet aircraft was 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. A spokesman said;
'We have obtained 49 Comets over the years and they have superbly served us over the last fourteen years, carrying millions of passengers on holiday.  The aircraft was designed for long haul operations and we were not sure how she would adapt to flying many more cycles. The Comet handled the changes beautifully. The fact is, the Comet has not reached the limit of hours they were designed to fly, but the aircraft uses a lot of fuel compared to the other aircraft in our fleet. We are a business and as such, the bottom line is that each aircraft has to make money. Our latest Boeings carry far more people and use a fraction of the fuel a Comet uses. We are keeping one of them to preserve it a Lasham and we have donated one to a museum in Berlin. We have been inundated with requests to purchase them, to turn them into restaurants or night-clubs.'
One of the Comets was donated to the British Civil Airliner Collection which is based at Duxford. The airline stipulated that the airliner remain in Dan-Air colours.

New Routes

  • Newcastle - Belfast - April 1st - (Taken over from Bristish Airways)
  • Newcastle - Bristol
  • Newcastle - Cardiff
  • 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


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 no longer 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.
Dan-Air's 'Fly-Drive' which as the name suggests offered passengers flights and hire car was further enhanced with several new destinations being added to the programme. 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' 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, London based travel agent, took a gamble chartering a Dan-Air BAC 1-11 for weekly flights to Palma. The firm ran 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% 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 1st 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 means 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.

Charter carriers were not, it is fair to say, the best of buddies. Some were better than others at shouting from the rooftops about how big they were. Britannia Airways claimed to be the second largest airline in the country based on the number of international passengers they flew. Their fleet of twenty aircraft did not carry the largest number of passengers amongst the independents either. That was Dan-Air who also had the largest fleet. British Caledonian had the largest network in terms of miles. Air Europe, the relatively new kid on the block carried their millionth passenger in February. In less than two years Air Europe had grown in size with six aircraft. Monarch Airlines, began the process of their own modernisation when they took delivery of brand new Boeing 737s. They also made headlines when they became the first UK airline to order the Boeing 757. Finally, Orion Airways carried thier millionth passenger in August. Their fleet had grown to six Boeing 737 jets. Dan-Air's fleet of two 737 worked alongside the eight Boeing 727 100 and three of the extended 200 series. In total seventeen BAC 1-11 jets flew both charter and scheduled services.

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, Stansted, 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 help 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 discrimination 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 in 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.

Last year's Tenerife accident was brought to the media's attention in April. More than one year after the crash, no official report had been published. Member of Parliament Charles Morris accused the department of Trade of 'sluggishness' and complacency.' He said the Minister, John Biffen MP was helping put a 'gag' on the tragedy. He added 'I've tried again and again to break down the official wall of silence, but no-one takes any notice. Victims relatives are pleading to know what happened. Theories for the crash include pilot error, wrong flight navigation plans or a radar fault. The Spanish investigation is still ongoing. Mr Morris said 'I demand to know why we have adopted such a supine attitude to the Spanish Authorities.' A Trade Department spokesman said 'These enquiries take a long time, this one is no exception.'

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 £1 million 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 flights 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 perished as the aircraft plummeted 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.  

The Tenerife accident report was finally published in July and placed the blame on Captain Whelan and the crew.The report can be seen here.
The British Airline Pilots Association said the report was a 'whitewash'. The British Government said they wanted a major addendum added to the report as there had been a series of events that had led to the accident. The Spanish had pretty much exonerated themselves of any blame, saying Captain Whelan was 'flying too l ow on approach to Los Rodeos, but British Authorities said that the air traffic controllers had given the pilot the wrong instructions. The controller is alleged to have told the crew to turn left into a holding pattern over the airport while another aircraft landed. British pilots say that the controller should have said 'turns to the left' and not 'turn left'. Turns to the left would see the pilot take the aircraft over the sea to a safe area. By missing the 's' off turns the pilot made one left turning and went across the island and into the mountain. Dan-Air issued a statement saying that the report was 'unbalanced, incomplete and in certain respects incorrect.' The airline blamed air traffic controllers for issuing ambiguous communication, putting it in an unsafe holding pattern at a very late stage of the landing sequence. Dan-Air said that recorded conversations between the crew demonstrated that they were working together as a team, and that there was full co-operation between them. The crew were having difficulty understanding what the messages meant at a critical stage of the landing. What had also transpired was that the controller had been guiding a small inter island aircraft at the same time as the Dan-Air jet. The controller had no realised that the Dan-air jet was travelling a lot faster than the prop-liner and would be on the tail of the Spanish aircraft. It was at that time that the Dan-air airliner was diverted. A few days later, Dan-Air instigated court proceedings in Spain against the country's air traffic control authority. Dan-Air said it was not happy with the findings of the report and wanted its name clearing, the action was certain to be a long, drawn out process. Trade Secretary John Biffen said he would be taking the matter up with Spanish officials. He would also be taking the matter up with the Civil Aviation Authority and would approach the International Civil Aviation Organisation. Mr. Biffen told the House of Commons 'This report seriously understates those inadequacies of the Spanish air traffic control organisation which contributed towards the accident.

In July a writ was issued to Dan-Air from the families of victims of the Sumburgh accident in 1979. Dan-Air said they had received the paperwork and said 'There is a claim from with widow of Captain Watson and our solicitor has been notified of a claim relating to First Officer Roy Wells.' Dan-Air had already been cleared of any blame in the accident. Solicitor John Munro who was representing families said 'It is up to Dan-Air whether to defend the action or to make an out of court settlement.' He declined to release details of the financial claim lodged. Dan-Air said it was normal practice for next of kin to make a claim through an airline, as we are insured through an international agreement.' going to say that they expected further claims. The eventual figure was in excess of £1,000.000.

A company HS-748 was converted at Dan-Air Engineering's (DAE) Manchester base. The 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.

Harry Goodman floated his International Leisure Group (ILG) on the stock exchange and made a sizeable return to invest in more aircraft for Air Europe. Alan Snudden who had left Dan-Air in 1979 to join Monarch Airlines. as Managing Director of Monarch Snudden had overseen the introduction of the Boeing 737 into their fleet. In September he announced that Monarch had ordered three Boeing 757. the aircraft would be in a single-class 238 seat configuration. The aircraft would be delivered in 1983 in time for the summer season. He said 'We are anxiously awaiting the deliver of this superb aircraft to work for us. This brings us a step nearer to fulfilling our ambition to operate a Boeing 737 and 757 fleet by 1984.'
There can be no doubt that that three airlines were ambitious to become key players in the charter market. Air Europe's parent company Intasun had seen bookings rise by 36% and had made pre-tax profits of £15 million, Air Europe had been profitable within the first year. Horizon had been successful with their start-up carrier Orion and Monarch were backed by Cosmos Holidays. Michael Croft takes up the story:

'At ground level I was with a national chain of Travel agents who made sure that they were giving us plenty of point of sale products. They gave us real inducements to plug their holidays. Educational trips were pretty easy to get on and they would send us bags and beach towels. It was a natural thing to do, years later when Thomsons took over Lunn Poly - whenever a customer walked in the shop and expressed an interest in a place, the agent would simply get the corresponding Thomson brochure that suited it. People had to be specific if they wanted any other company. I had always been a fan of Dan-Air because they were interesting! But the series of accidents they had gave them a real image problem. You would be almost at the point of completing a holiday, you would give out flight times, and sometimes people would say 'Who is the airline?' and when you said 'Dan-Air' people would say 'Oh no, I don't want to fly on them, are there any other flights? I would tell them that they are a great company and sometimes it would work and sometimes people were adamant that they wouldn't use them. I think the new colour scheme and image might have helped a little, and most people don't know a 737 from a 727 so I don't think it was the aircraft. But the name could conjure up negatives. I wish they had a Tour Operator who was behind them 100% like Britannia had with Thomsons. I always thought that the scheduled services were fantastic, but they were really up against it, competing with BA. The other charter airlines had it so easy really, same aircraft, same destinations in generally favourable climates. Dan-Air were spinning God knows how many plates at the same time. If they had either bought up a Tour Operator, merged with one or started a new one, changed the name - I think the story would have quite a different ending.'

Shetland Islands council backed BA to retain their monopoly on the Sumburgh-Aberdeen service. That was in contrast to the Orkney Islands Council and Shetland 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. Orkney Council said that although they were not actively backing Dan-Air they believed that the airline offered a better standard of service regarding frequency, timing and fares. The council wanted British Airways to stay, but would be happy if Air Ecosse or Dan-Air took over.Dan-Air asked for decisions to be deferred.
Despite saying that they did wish to loose any of the thier Highlands services, in September, British Airways looked set to drop eleven of its unprofitable Scottish services. Dan-Air, had prepared arguments for the CAA hearing that would follow.  Several other airlines expressed an interest in taking over the routes. In December Dan-Air's 'Operation Santa' ran again - to expatriate 3000 oil support workers, enabling them to get home for Christmas. The company used all its available HS-748 aircraft. 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.

Davies and Newman, the Dan-Air group, revealed first half year profits were down from £3,290,000 to £2,340,000. Increased interest and depreciation charges eventually put the figures into the red to the tune of £1,990,000 from last year's £716,000 loss. However,although Dan-Air had always made a half year loss the company always made a profit at the end of year in April. Fred Newman said 'The losses were caused by the seasonal trading cycle of Dan-Air, at its busiest during the summer months. The ship-broking subsidiary Davies and Newman continues to trade profitably he said, whilst the associated company Dan Smedvig, the oil drilling contractors is making good progress.  Our airline charter business is lower than last year. Whilst the air traffic controllers go-slow in the second quarter reduced the revenue on the scheduled services. These had all been affected by the recession and severe currency fluctuations. 'The airline is experiencing all the adverse factors common in the industry at the present time. Although activity has been high over the peak summer months, rising costs and excess capacity throughout the industry continues to reduce margins.'

It was decided to abandon applications to serve Orkney and Shetland from Aberdeen saying that it was in the best interests of the islanders that British Airways should be given the maximum opportunity to make the services viable. In truth the airline had withdrew because the Civil Aviation Authority had stated that it was their policy to ensure the survival of British airlines and not to introduce competition. Another factor was the BA would introduce a Highland Division operating much smaller aircraft with higher frequencies in an attempt to make the services viable.

One of the Hawker Siddeley 748 aircraft was to be sold to Air BVI in the British Virgin Islands. This was a result of the BAC 1-11 replacing the HS-748 on the Bristol-Amsterdam service, which was now timed to link with  CP Air flights from Amsterdam to Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal, Calgary and Halifax.  The HS-748 took almost two hours to reach Amsterdam, introducing the BAC 1-11 would cut the flying time by 50 minutes. Travel Agent, Trobair's managing director said; 'It is vital that jets are introduced - at present people are stepping off Boeing 747s in Schipol and and onto a turbo-prop.So obviously we would prefer jets.'

British Airway' attempt to make its Highlands Division a success opted to operate HS-748s on the majority of them. The carrier had previously relied on mainly Viscount aircraft. BA had two of the HS 748s in their fleet. They would lease three further examples from Dan-Air and one from British Aerospace. No price was disclosed about the leasing arrangement - for twelve months with the options to increase for three months - but say the cost is within the monies available. Although the aircraft from British Aerospace is seven years old, and those from Dan-Air are between 12 and 14 years old, BA promise they will stripped down and thoroughly overhauled before being put into passenger service. Their existing HS-748s were six years old. A spokesman for British Airways said that they did not think the age of the aircraft would cause undue maintenance costs, and said that the HS 748 fleet would be considerably cheaper to operate and maintain than the older and larger Viscounts that they will be replacing. Pilot training would be undertaken before the aircraft joined the fleet.  One of our pilot contributor said;

'Its laughable isn't it? They would strip our 748s down and thoroughly overhaul them. You know, you only had to look at their fleet at that time, it was the same as ours! At least the short hauls were. They had Christ knows how many Tridents  on the go. They were a dead loss when compared to our 727s. BA always looked down their nose at the rest of us. Their 1-11s were exactly the same as ours. Their Viscounts were the same as British Midlands, their 707s were getting on a bit as well. One of the things you don't do in the airline business is slag off another carrier's safety record, because the next day it might be one of yours that goes down. When you told me about the travel agent - I was shocked, and so I did a bit of research -  in the period both airlines operated, from 1953-1992 - we lost seven aircraft with three of them involving passengers. BOAC/BEA and BA had twenty four fatal and more than a dozen that were none fatal. Yes they were larger than us, by a great deal. But check the facts. They had faults with aircraft instruments, pilot error, pilot fatigue, structural faults. It's really not good to give an air of superiority, at the expense of a competitor, in a not so roundabout way, that's what they were doing - Saying we've got these 748s off them but don't worry, we will make sure they are fit to fly in. It doesn't matter that up until they entered service you would be flying on something about twenty five years old!'

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 prop-liner 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 this year, which include a flurry of passengers in December on the oil supply flights. Oil workers flew from Sullem Voe on 150 flights into Aberdeen to bring workers home for Christmas. The same number of flights would head back over three days starting on December 4th.
This record number of passengers was more than any other UK carrier apart from British Airways. Dan-Air remained the second largest airline in the UK in terms of passenger numbers and aircraft fleet size.  
It was announce in December that  the Cardiff and Bristol to Paris service would close after Christmas due to poor loads. The CAA granted Dan-Air a licence for a new Gatwick-Dublin service to start in 1981

New Routes:

  • 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


The year started with a new contract announcement. 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. The upmarket holidays were aimed at affluent customers.
Boeing had invited UK carriers to look at their brand new 757 jet. Monarch Airlines had three on order, and British Airways, who were keen to began replace their ageing Trident aircraft on domestic services chose to order 19 of them in an order worth £400 million. The BA aircraft would carry 180 passengers whilst Monarch had opted for a single class high density layout with 228 seats. Air Europe expressed an interest.Fred Newman, Dan-Air's chairman expressed an interest in the aircraft, stating that it would be ideal for their style of operation, but that it was at the maximum size  for an aircraft they might use.
Captain Alan Selby recalled at the time:
'Dan-Air had a formidable team who worked miracles every year to ensure that aircraft were fully utilised. One can't imagine just how complex a job it was. I think that, that was one of the reasons that tour operators stayed loyal to us. We had the ability to offer so many aircraft types, as well as ensuring Tour Operators didn't have to charter an entire aircraft. We had the numbers of aircraft, the staff and an undeniable reputation for service. I believe that counted for a lot. In terms of our aircraft, we were not in a position to re-equip with more modern aircraft as quickly as, certainly the pilots would have liked. The new 757 was a superb aircraft, costing £18 million apiece, that was, for obvious reasons, out of the question to the board of Davies and Newman. Leasing, in our world, meant getting an aircraft from another carrier for a short period. When one looks at an airline today, one can see that most airlines don't actually own a single aircraft. Dan-Air's apparent rag tag jumble of aircraft were, largely owned outright. Dan-Air saw that as an asset, which of course, they were when it came to the later battle with Air Europe. I think the board just saw it in terms of heavy leasing payments and ignored the obvious fuel savings.'

Meanwhile, the Irish government refused Dan-Air's application to fly the Gatwick-Dublin service, despite British Airways having abandoned 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' in March to Metropolitan Airways. Flights serving Newcastle, Manchester, Cardiff, Bournemouth and Birmingham would now operate by the Channel Islands operator. The good news for passengers was 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 29th.  Metropolitan would replace Dan-Air's 44-seat HS-748 turbo prop planes with 20 seat 'Badierante' prop-liners, 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'.
The relationship with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) hit a new low in January, when Dan-Air launched a new set of fares with reductions aimed at expanding their 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, British Caledonian, Air Ecosse and Loganair all vying for routes. Dan-Air's own Scottish flights had been a runaway success. British Airways, meanwhile, had been under financial pressure for some time, posting significant losses of more than £200 million. Their Highlands routes alone had made a loss of £4 million this year. It was rumoured in the industry, that BA was set to walk away from all but the most profitable of the Scottish services. In an astonishing move, BA announced in late 1981 that they were, in fact,  going to strengthen their Highlands network by ditching the costly to operate Viscounts and replacing them with a fleet of HS-748 aircraft. Three of them leased from Dan-Air!! British Airways said it hope to be profitable by the end of the year.
The talks with the Irish Department of Trade went according 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 commenced services to Dublin from Gatwick in May. Dan-Air would operate morning services and Aer Lingus the evening flights.  

Although technically rivals in many spheres, Dan-Air and Laker Airways enjoyed a good relationship. Laker's BAC 1-11 fleet was regularly serviced by Dan-Air Engineering, 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. The talks were held in secret and surprisingly did not leak to the press. No one in the industry was aware that Laker was in trouble, and certainly not as to how deep the trouble was. A deal between Laker and Goodman could not be agreed, and the sale was called off.

In February Laker spectacularly went bust. Laker Airways had suffered during the winter months of 1981. In an attempt to see Laker off the scene, Pan Am reduced fares on Transatlantic flights. There was not enough traffic to support the four airlines who flew the routes. Laker's DC10s had been refitted with a premium cabin (Regency Class) to try and lure business passengers with lower fares and premium service. The DC10 had suffered with bad press following an accident a few years prior. Many people were actively avoiding the type. McDonnell Douglas, the DC10 manufacturer and engine maker General Electric provided Laker with a £5 million rescue deal. However, when British Caledonian found out about the deal they wrote to GE and McDonnell Douglas saying that if the deal went ahead then they, along with a host of other carriers would not do business with them again. Laker collapsed with debts of £270 million Which was, at the time, the biggest corporate failure in UK history. Laker's fleet was immediately grounded, including their eleven DC10s three Airbus A300s two Boeing 707s and six BAC 1-11 jets. British Caledonian, for their part, set about trying to take over Laker's Los Angeles service.
In the immediate aftermath of the collapse, thousands of Laker holidaymakers were stranded across Europe. Flights en route to Tenerife had been called back to Manchester with passengers forced to hand over their Duty Free goods. Dan-Air was one of the carriers to take part in a rescue operation. Laker sued British Airways, British Caledonian, Pan Am, TWA, Air France, Lufthansa, Swissair, KLM, SAS, Sabena, Alitalia and UTA for conspiracy to put his airline out of business by predatory pricing - they settled out of court for $50 million, while BA in a separate case settled out of court with Freddie Laker personally for $8 million. In 1985 BA additionally agreed to contribute an additional $35 million on top of its out of court settlement with Freddie Laker. The total amount allowed Freddie Laker to settle his outstanding debt.
British Caledonian were quick to snap up two DC10s to join BCal charter, BAC 1-11s went to British Caledonian.
Harry Goodman's International Leisure Group (ILG) went on to benefit from the Laker's failure. Goodman, was part of the failed talks with Laker and he knew  the financial state that Laker was in. In what could be seen as a harsh, calculated move, Goodman had charter aircraft on standby for a repatriation mission of Laker's passengers. Dan-Air picked up several of the charters that were previously allocated to Laker Aircraft.
Following the Laker collapse, Dan-Air took over sole trading of Gatwick Handling, expressing a desire to purchase Laker's share from the administrator. The British Airport Authority (BAA) refused this at a stroke. Gatwick Handling's original ten-year licence to Laker and Dan-Air coincidentally expired in February 1982. However, the BAA insisted that other airlines should become additional shareholders to prevent Davies & Newman subsidiary Dan-Air from deriving an 'unfair advantage' as monopoly provider of third-party ground handling services at Gatwick Airport. This was nonsense. Caledonian had their own ground handling, as did British Airways and Servisair. US carriers Northwest and Delta used Gatwick as their London terminal as a result of them having restrictions on access to Heathrow. Both American carriers were Gatwick Handling customers, Delta and Northwest each acquired a 25% stake in the ground handling company in 1983 and 1984, respectively. These moves ensured Gatwick Handling's continuity and stability. They also resulted in the new shareholders replacing the former Laker representatives on the Gatwick Handling's board of directors with their own people.
Laker Air Holidays was purchased by Saga, a large Tour Operator who specialised in off-peak holidays for older people. Saga would use Dan-Air for its summer programme and announced that Laker Air Holidays would charter Dan-Air aircraft.
Laker's hanger at Gatwick was to be taken over by British Caledonian, who would extend usage to Dan-Air. BCal announced that their new Airbus A310 twin-jets due to arrive in 1984 would be maintained there, along with their new Boeing 747. Dan-Air would rent a part of the hanger and use it for on-site maintenance.

In March a Dan-Air HS 748 departed in the early evening on a flight to Bristol. On board was former Conservative 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 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 exercise. They were supposed to be heading to an RAF airport to refuel.

Davies & Newman, after reporting a near trebled seasonal loss of £1.900,000 in the first six months of 1982, 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. A deal was signed with Owners Abroad, who were very well known to those who owned or rented apartments or villas overseas. The £3 million deal would see Owners Abroad charter many Dan-Air aircraft for the upcoming summer. As an air broker, they would then sell the seats in blocks to package tour and villa operators. Last year they carried some 310,000 they hoped to carry 350,000 this year, 40% of which would be with Dan-Air, that amounted to 140,000 passengers.

The Metropolitan Airways franchise began operation on March 29th. Almost as quick as the flights got off the ground they proved unpopular. The replacement aircraft was heavily criticised for being too small and cramped. Metropolitan Airways had not got off to a good start with pilots reported to be doubling up as air stewards in a cost cutting measure to help them through the recession. Instead of having a Captain, First Officer and stewardess, their Twin Otter aircraft would had a Captain and a 'Flight Officer' who sat in flight deck and then carry out the role of a steward, he could also fly the plane in the event of an emergency. 'It cuts down on overheads.' said David Beety, Chairman of Metropolitan Airways. 'We have a team of nine pilots, two of whom were made redundant by the collapse of Laker.' The airline was to invest £1.1 million in taking over Dan-Air's Link City network and working in partnership with them.Despite the bad reviews, a new Bristol - Cardiff - Glasgow service would begin on August 25th.

The Aberdeen-Gatwick service continued to operate profitably with good load factors. British Airways, having leased three Dan-Air HS-748 to replace their ageing Viscounts on their Scottish services would use them on eleven Scottish services, in the hope of turning a £4,500,000 loss into a profit within a year. British Airways had reported staggering loss of £250 million. The addition of a BAC 1-11 on the Bristol-Amsterdam service had paid dividends with connecting flights to and from Amsterdam with Canadian Pacific. Passenger numbers on the route were up 107%.

One of the perks of working for an airline is the massive discounts that are offered for overseas travel. Dan-Air offered 90% discounts to husbands/wives or bona-fide engaged couples. The airline did not require names to be added to a register. This loophole allowed crews to jet off with a different 'bride or groom to be' every time they took a break. After management decided to scrutinise the staff travel. From April staff would have to register the name of their spouse or  intended. A spokesman said 'It means we can check on someone who every other week has a different fiancee. the staff must let us know once they get engaged, if they decide later on to change fiancees they must let us know, unless they want to go on holiday with the original fiancee. We have to be very careful with cheap travel. It is just a way of tightening up the administration.'

Ninety ex-Laker Airways stewardesses were taken on by Dan-air for the summer. With Dan-Air saying 'The girls were already trained on the BAC 1-11 which both carriers operated. Dan-Air have very high standards of customer care that we believe is unique to us. The girls knew the technical aspects of the aircraft, but we made sure they would do things the Dan-Air way, which they all have. They have made a fabulous addition to our cabin crew.'

It would be unfair to say that Dan-Air was 'struggling' but that is exactly what some newspapers declared after a year that saw only small profits of £342.000. This was in the middle of a particularly gloomy economic period. Chairman Fred Newman said 'The situation of the airline world has been widely discussed in the media and Dan-Air have not been immune from the situation.' Cargo revenue was down and oil supply charters had been slightly down. The Falklands war had affected travel plans of many people. British Caledonian had lost revenue by cancelling Argentine flights.

Dan-Air had been keen 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 in the peak Summer months.
By July of 1982 Dan-Air had reduced their 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 who had now brought 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 they commenced operations to Inverness. In July, Dan-Air completed negotiations with British Aerospace to purchase two BAe 146 jets with a third on option. A company spokesman said one aircraft would be based at Newcastle where it would be used on the Gatwick service from Mondays to Fridays. The aircraft would then go on to supplement the charter programme during the weekends. Dan-Air thus became the world launch customer of this brand new aircraft. Captain Alan Selby recalls:
'As far as I can remember, British Aerospace wasn't bursting at the seams with orders for the 146. The word was that BAe were practically giving Dan-Air the aircraft for free. In some ways that is an honour. The fact that airlines around the world might be thinking; 'If Dan-Air have bought it new, it must be good.' is a something to be proud of. It wasn't an aircraft I wanted to fly. I was, by now, on the 737 as well as the 727, but I could see the 146 had many qualities that would benefit us. The fuel savings compared to a BAC 1-11 were huge. I know that the introduction of the type was a bit of a turning point for Dan-Air and how it wished to be presented to the world.'

Orion Airways announced they were purchasing Boeing 737 300 series aircraft. The new aircraft would seat twenty more passengers and had even greater efficiency than the 737 that other UK charter airlines, including Dan-Air, were operating. Captain Alan Selby said;

'The 737 joining our fleet was a remarkable achievement I thought. It is well documented that Fred Newman was reluctant to obtain them, but the facts were that all the new airlines that appeared, and kept on appearing throughout the eighties, were backed by major Tour Operators. They had a great deal of financial strength. The two carriers were buying these fabulous types after only a couple of years in business.Two of these airlines, Air Europe and Monarch also had board room strength direct from us. Heaven knows what information  they were able to pass on in their new roles. They would have known all our strengths and all our weaknesses, and time has shown that we did have them. I am sentimental about Dan-Air, of course I am. But I know we made some bad decisions. Anyone can say that all our aircraft are all booked up for next year and that we have a fleet of fifty aircraft. But what use is that if only half of them are making money? We were offering the same charter rates as other airlines did. We were carrying them in aircraft that made far less money on the same trip. To make a profit we had to work like mad doing everything. Air Europe made more money than us in the first few years with a fraction of the fleet and a fraction of the leg work. O'Regan and Cossey walked away from Dan-Air and left behind the things they knew weren't worth the time and effort doing. They went for quality charter work to destinations they could make money on. Leaving us to do the less appealing work for the same rates. When they were in a stronger position in 82 to attempt to get on the scheduled services. Did they mess about with Newcastle to Bristol? Of course not - they went straight for Alicante, Palma and Faro. It made perfect sense - and I know that skill came from their time with us. From this year on, I would say in many ways we were playing catch up all the time. It wasn't until our scheduled services really moved up a gear in the late eighties that we had a product that was unbeatable in Europe on schedules.'

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 727, this happened on the same week that Dan-Air flew the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, complete with instruments on a specially chartered aircraft to Aberdeen.
British Airway's order for nineteen Boeing 757 needed to be reduced as they needed to save money. The aircraft would instead be bought by Air Europe who became the third UK airline to purchase the aircraft. The savings to BA would amount to £40 million. It would mean the Air Europe had effectively jumped the queue in delivery times for their aircraft. Air Europe's parent company ILG who owned Club 18-30, Intasun and Lancaster Holidays made a profit of £10 million, they also announced that the company would go public in 1983.

A company Hawker Siddeley 748 took off from Leeds/Bradford on a regular flight to Jersey and was struck by a 'missile'. It was believed a bolt from a crossbow may have been responsible. Shortly after take-off the bolt hit the propellor badly damaging it, it pierced the wing and tore into the fuselage. the aircraft continued to Jersey where it landed safely and underwent repairs.
A company spokesman said;
'It is a bit of a mystery. It wasn't a bird-strike or anything like that. We think it might have been a crossbow that fired a bolt. We don't know if it was intentional. We hope not and that it was accidental, it could have led to a tragedy. The passengers heard the strike but no-one was hurt and it was considered safe to carry on to the destination.'

Dan-Air were awarded a licence for the Gatwick-Zurich service. Laker had planned to take over the route that had been previously operated by British Airways. The Civil Aviation Authority allowed Dan-Air to operate the service for three years.

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. On paper, at least, the aircraft cost £6,500,000 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.
On September 28th British Airways announced that it was axing 17 routes from its Highlands and Islands services, despite promising earlier in the year to increase them, and invest in the division.  BA 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. The fact that British Airways had made a similar statement the previous year, regarding  reducing Scottish routes, only to rescind them later on,  was an inconvenience for the CAA and other carriers.
British Caledonian was also in a desperate financial state. Despite posting a loss of £,2,000,000,  also entered the Scottish air routes battle. BCal wanted to operate from  Edinburgh and Glasgow to Gatwick with a return fare of £110, which was £8 cheaper than BA. BCal would have a standby fare of £33 one way for weekends and off peak travel. British Midland wished to fly from Glasgow to Heathrow. Press reports at the time claimed Dan-Air was a 'Struggling airline' Dan-Air had gone from £2m pre-tax profits in 1981 to just £342,000 in 1982.'  
What this website finds remarkable, when looking at press coverage from the period, is that Dan-Air was one of only two scheduled airlines to post any profit at all that year. Yet the airline was suggested to be 'struggling'. British Caledonian received nothing but favourable press stories. In fact, despite losing £2m, BCal's financial position was barely reported.

Dan-Air had been contacted by the CAA and asked which routes they would like to be considered for. Dan-Air had never been an airline that took unnecessary risks, nor did the airline seek rapid over expansion. British Airways operated with much higher costs than most independent carriers. All carriers needed to evaluate potential new routes with detailed studies to find optimal slot times, fares, aircraft types and potential profitability. The network Dan-Air was by no means large, and yet every route had undergone feasibility studies. It was obvious to Dan-Air that there were few, if any, reasons to take over every one of BA's loss making routes in the belief that they would instantly be profitable for another carrier. New routes back then would usually start off operating at a loss which would eat into profits, even if the long-term outlook was healthy
Dan-Air did see potential in the Inverness-Heathrow service, which would give the airline access to Heathrow for the first time. British Airways had given the CAA six months notice, Dan-Air could evaluate the route over the next few months. Local MP Russell Johnson said 'British Airways have acted quite shamelessly in withdrawing from theses routes.'

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 Bergen. The lucrative programme would run from December to April 1983.
The contract for oil related charter flights was up for renewal in October.  Following negotiations with the oil giant, Dan-Air had stated that they would operate 44 seat HS 748 aircraft on the flights. The Scottish airline, Alidair had submitted their plans, detailing that they would operate three services each way between Aberdeen and Sumburgh  using 75 seat Vickers Viscounts. Whilst it is unknown what quotes were submitted, Alidair were victorious with their tender.  Announcing the news on the 23rd of the month 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 inquest into the Nailstone accident the previous year detailed not all the locks were secure on the door. Warning indicators at the bottom of the door and the four locks were not in synchronisation. the inquest was told that two of the four locks were not secure and after breaking free the door became lodged in the tail of the aircraft. This caused the aircraft to be virtually impossible to control. Investigators said 'If the door had missed the tail plane it would have been an embarrassment, rather than an accident.'  A verdict of accidental death was record for Captain Roger Griffin,  First Officer Darryl Hecht  and postal assistant Mr. Andrew Bell. The jury made the recommendation that the manufacturer, Hawker Siddeley, should look closer at the indicators and consider installing a second set of indicators. Cockpit voice recorder revealed that  Mr. Bell had informed the Captain that the mechanical indicators on the rear port door of the aircraft were showing red. The Captain's comments showed his concerns about the possibility of the door striking the tail plane and he slowed the aircraft and took all possible steps to safeguard the machine.

Dan-Air were not alone with their plans to take over British airways' loss making Inverness-Heathrow route, British Midland, and Jersey based GB Airways, who were ironically part-owned by British Airways, also applied for it. Dan-Air submitted a formal application to the CAA on October 27th.  The Highlands Development 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. In the meantime Dan-Air had the backing of 60 Members of Parliament, The Highlands Development Board and several businesses. GB Airways quickly withdrew their own application, having said they would acquire Viscount aircraft for the flights only if they were successful. British Midland stated they would operate three flights a day with 80 seat DC9 jets. Dan-Air would operate two flights each way with a third via Aberdeen using BAC 1-11 with 89 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 announced that they were applying to the CAA for licences to operate scheduled flights to Palma, Faro and Alicante these were routes that British Airways had relinquished.Air Europe, who claimed that they were a charter airline and had no interest in getting involved with scheduled services applied for three scheduled services out of Gatwick - Alicante, Faro and Palma. Britannia Airways submitted the same application. Air Europe also wished to fly from Manchester to Gibraltar.

Dan-Air triumphed with their Inverness - Heathrow bid.  However, before the service even 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 which would arrive at Heathrow at 9-30am. Dan-Air were given a landing time at Heathrow 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 their flights would arrive from Inverness 90 minutes before the Dan-Air flight. A spokesman for Dan-Air said they '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 profitable 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 service 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. Passengers would be served complementary whisky on selected flights. It would seem that Dan-Air would stop at nothing to provide the best service.

The half year financial 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 committed 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 economic slump.

One of the airline's HS-748 prop-liners was involved in an emergency landing on November 23rd. The aircraft,on an oil supply charter, took off from Aberdeen heading to Munster in Germany when one of the engines developed engine trouble. A full-scale emergency was declared and the Captain decided to re-route to Newcastle. Captain Gordon Pederson landed the aircraft safely on one engine. The 32 passengers were taken to a hotel and left for Munster the following day. Dan-Air said that an oil pressure warning light had come on in the flight deck and that the Captain handled the situation with calmness and skill.

British Airways Highlands division that had declared would make a £300,000 profit after the 1981 re-structuring announced that they had made a loss of £400,000 after their first year of trading. They had sent back one of the leased HS-748 to British Aerospace and would continue leasing the three other models from Dan-Air for another year. The loss was the smallest in the 40 years that BA and its predecessors had had a Highlands Division. They thought the new restructured branch would make a profit in 1983 and was given the go-ahead to carry on for another year.

Metropolitan Airways' services that had been franchised in late March became profitable within six months.Despite bad reviews and complaints about aircraft, which were tiny in comparison to the HS 748 and BAC 1-11s used previously. Sadly, there had not been enough passenger numbers to justify the larger Dan-Air aircraft. The new arrangement where Dan-Air supplied ticketing support was working well for Dan-Air in particular.
Dan-Air's perceived reputation had taken a knock over recent years, the airline had suffered three fatal crashes within four years. Those failures were not a result of any of the airline's operational, technical or personnel errors. Finally,  
1982 was a difficult year for aviation. The UK was in the middle of a significant recession, however, the airline carried over 3,599,000 passengers in 1982. This 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.

New Routes:

  • Gatwick - Dublin - Daily service started. - June 28th
  • Gatwick - Zurich - CAA Licence granted - August 11th
  • London Heathrow - Inverness - Route Application for October 28th


Dan-Air's 30th anniversary year would see the fleet consisting of up to 59 aircraft. The airline was presenting itself a serious player on the scheduled services networks of Europe. In addition, Dan-Air carried out a massive charter programme, larger than its rivals. The direction the carrier was heading would need to see further enhancements to the fleet. The Boeing 737 had proved to be reliable and popular with passengers, crew and most important of all, Tour Operators. most charter airlines were operating the type, with Britannia Airways having twenty of the type. Air Europe had seven in service this year and a further three used on a share basis with Air Florida. In winter the aircraft flew with Air Florida and would join the Air Europe fleet for the busy summer months. Air Europe had Boeing 757s on order to be delivered this year. A further five Boeing 737 300 series aircraft were on order. Monarch Airlines had ordered Boeing 757s and were already operating the 737. Finally, Orion Airways had been one of the early customers of the 737 300. In order to gain maximum profit  Intasun chartered Dan-Air aircraft at low rates, whilst distancing Air Europe somewhat from the Intasun brand. This would enable Intasun's parent company ILG to receive better rates from more upmarket Tour Operators.
The year had begun 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 Scotland - London routes had, in recent times become something of a battlefield. British Airways had finally made a profit on the Glasgow-Heathrow service and increased passengers to more than 600,000. Other airlines were keen to get in on the action. British Midland Airways had recently been given permission to operate between Glasgow and London and were reported to have taken 2,000 passengers a week from British Airways on the service by offering cheaper fares. British Midland would increase their flights to seven flights a day each way, in place of six. British Caledonian, who were losing £3 million a year on the Scottish routes were operating three daily return flights between Glasgow and Gatwick. On 11th January Dan-Air opened this new round of applications with a plan to take over the Inverness-Heathrow service relinquished by British Airways. The state carrier would abandon the unprofitable service in March. Dan-Air's plan was to operate two flights a day into Heathrow and one into Gatwick. They said that they believed they could make the route profitable from the start, despite BA losing £1 million a year on it.  Dan-Air project planning manager Martin Clough told the hearing that the airline's North Sea Oil charter operation was running down. This could mean redundancies or redeployment at Aberdeen. He said that if Dan-Air were given a licence for Inverness-Heathrow that redundancies would not be necessary. After the three day hearing Dan-Air were awarded the licence. The airline said they would commence flights in March with a special advance purchase ticket price of £40 single. The standard one way fare would be £75 (£10 cheaper than BA). Unlike rival airlines, Dan-Air would have Inverness based aircraft for the service. The BAC 1-11 would have reduced seating for 88 passengers to provide extra leg-room. Hot breakfast and evening meals would be provided as well as a free bar service. There would be weekend flights from Inverness to Gatwick. The new licence would mean up to a dozen new jobs created at the airport. Dan-Air said they were looking forward to starting the service and would give details of timings as soon as suitable slot times could be arranged at Heathrow. A spokesman said 'We hope to keep the 60,000 passengers BA have carried each year on the service, and hopefully some of those who make the journey by rail.

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 be among 22 other carrier's aircraft on specially chartered flights from Aberdeen to Gothenburg.
Within a matter of weeks of Dan-Air winning the Inverness-Heathrow licence, British Airways were accused by Inverness MP Russell Johnstone of 'extraordinary behaviour and lack of responsibility towards Dan-Air'. He accused British Airways of deliberately frustrating the smooth take-off of the new direct Inverness-Heathrow service. British Airways were planning to fly from Inverness to Glasgow landing an hour and a half earlier than Dan-Air. The BA flight would have a connecting flight at Glasgow to Heathrow. BA's Hawker Siddeley 748 that would be used on the flight was leased to them by Dan-Air! Heathrow's Scheduling Committee, which was managed by British Airways! had offered Dan-Air a landing time of 11:10 a.m. British Airways said they would land at Heathrow at 9:25 a.m. Dan-Air's BAC 1-11 would be parked at Inverness overnight. The same thing that BA had done with their older, slower Viscount prop. At that time, BA had a landing slot of 9:30 a.m, but the committee refused Dan-Air the same facility. A Dan-Air spokesman said: 'We are prepared to take this whole affair to the highest level.' Adding fuel to the fire was British Airways' offer to handle the Dan-Air flights at Inverness Airport.
Dan-Air took their grievances to the Aviation Minister, Ian Sproat who said that the CAA were doing all they could to help Dan-Air out. The Department of Trade, meanwhile, said they couldn't do anything to help Dan-Air, expressing the view that they couldn't understand why Dan-Air didn't just make use of Gatwick as it was their main base anyhow.  Dan-Air responded that their own market research had pointed out that 82% of passengers and businessmen wished to use Heathrow, throwing the gauntlet down, Dan-Air gave the ultimatum that unless a fair slot time was given within ten days, they would withdraw from the service. Dan-Air even threatened British Airways with the High Court. This seemed to do the trick, Dan-Air were granted a slot at 7:55 a.m, although it was not the time the airline preferred, it was better than the 11 a.m slot originally offered.
In preparation for the take-off an office was opened at Inverness with nine staff, who were trained in sales, reservations, check in, ground handling and cargo handling. The latter was something that had hitherto 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. Dan-Air's Inverness - Heathrow flights would take off at 6:40 a.m and 5:30 p.m landing at Heathrow at 7:55 a.m and  6:55 p.m. The Heathrow-Inverness flights would depart at 8:55 a.m and 7:55 p.m arriving at Inverness at 10:25 p.m. APEX fares would be from £40 one way on standby. One way fares included: Super Saver - £55 and regular economy fares £75. The Inaugural flight on Monday 28th March took off on time at 6:40 a.m with 69 passengers on board, 17 shorter than full capacity. Passengers were treated to a cooked breakfast, complementary champagne, shortcake and fruit cake. The plan was to introduce the BAe 146 by May.
Dan-Air's Highland services would be further enhanced with the introduction of an Inverness-Aberdeen-Gatwick service to be introduced in May.
North East Tour Operator Airway Holidays chartered Dan-Air's new BAe 146 for their entire summer programme from Tees-Side. The aircraft would operate scheduled services from Monday to Friday evening before re-positioning at Tees-Side for weekend flights to Palma, Barcelona, Girona, Valencia and Reus.
The first BAe 146 was to be used on the Gatwick-Berne, Dublin, Toulouse and Perpignan routes. The second on the Newcastle-Gatwick, Bergen, Stavanger flights. the aircraft would reposition at Leeds/Bradford to carry out the twice weekly Jersey service.

Dan-Air had spotted the opportunity to take over another route that British Airways had axed, that of the Inverness-Aberdeen service. Scottish passengers could fly to Gatwick where hundreds of charter flights would be available. It would make economic sense to passengers, as tour Tour Operators usually added supplements in their brochures for airports outside London. These supplements 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 fare from Aberdeen to Glasgow would be £12 and the cheapest one way from Glasgow to Gatwick would be £40.

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 demise of Laker Airways, in 1982, had seen some business move to Dan-Air, In the first month of the Inverness-Heathrow service Dan-Air carried 5205 passengers, 5% more than BA had carried the previous year.
The BAe 146 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 Holidays had tried to regain an ATOL licence. Their application was refused. Laker had new brochures, TV advertisements and had began recruiting resort staff. Laker had panned to charter Dan-Air aircraft on their European charter operations. Naturally Dan-Air were disappointed.
As soon as the BAe 146 entered service on the scheduled service network it proved to be popular. Carrying 100 passengers in quiet comfort. The aircraft was able to adapted well to schedule services and charter flights too,  which were flown at weekends. The first charter flights it operated were on behalf of the Airways Holidays group.

At the end of May, Dan-Air announced that they were 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 introduced the 189 seat Boeing 757 on its Aberdeen-Heathrow flights. Flights had previously been operated by the giant Tristar which was simply too large for the service. The alternative was the BAC 1-11. The choice of the 757 was the perfect. The size and performance matched BA's requirements. This was seen as a move by British Airways to make themselves appear more efficient.
In May, a new Dan-Air stewardess, Sarah Lipyeat made headlines when she saved the life of a passenger on her first flight! Sarah was on her return flight from Malaga when a passenger, Alan Dow, had a heart attack mid flight. Ex nurse Sarah gave Mr. Dow the kiss of life and administered cardiac massage. Mr. Dow briefly recovered before his heart stopped a second time. Once more, Sarah carried out CPR while the Captain radioed for an emergency landing in France. Medics were on hand to meet the patient at Nates where he later recovered in hospital. Sarah said 'I remembered my nurse training and just calmly got on with the job. I hoped that my second flight would be less eventful.'
This year, Dan-Air won the contract to supply flights from Aberdeen to Scatsa in the Shetlands, for oil workers employed at the Sulham Voe oil platform. Some 25,000 people would fly on the charters.
Dan-Air were chartered by Peregrine Travel in Scotland to fly eleven return flights carrying Aberdeen supporters to matches in Europe. The network was expanded further in April. Zurich would be served from the 30th of the month with daily scheduled flights from Gatwick.

The Inverness-Heathrow service proved to be a smash hit from day one, 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 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 3 a.m 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 10 a.m 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 their application to serve Belfast, Glasgow and Edinburgh from Heathrow, despite objections from British Airways. Dan-Air's proposal fly to Belfast from Heathrow would have cheaper fare than British Midland, who had given the route up. The Government had wanted to introduce freer competition on 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 passengers on the Heathrow-Manchester route and 370,000 on the Aberdeen-Heathrow one. Dan-Air would be happy to take some of those passengers in a free and fair competition. In September, Aberdeen based Air Ecosse became the fourth airline to apply to fly between Aberdeen-Heathrow.

Dan-Air was one of only two airlines in the UK to make a profit in 1982, Something that did not make the headlines, with several newspapers claiming the airline was struggling. The company had posted profits of £4 million in April. The first half financial results announced in October, showed the usual losses. They had climbed by a £1 million 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 did say that the charter fleet had been fully utilised for 1984 and that the scheduled services continued to perform satisfactorily.

In June Dan-Air won a contract previously held by Air Ecosse to ferry oil support workers on charter flights from Aberdeen to Scatsa in the Shetland Islands. The flights would be carried out using HS-747 prop-liners. One of our pilot contributors said;
'I was a First Officer on the 748. It was a rugged little machine but the conditions on the Shetland Islands flights really did test your nerves. The cross-winds came from nowhere and it wasn't unusual to be rocked about for almost the whole flight. Not many aircraft could carry out what the 748 do. The wings were longer than a lot of much larger jets and it really helped. It was, from my own point of view, challenging going back and forth on the same sector. The passengers were all men, they all behaved well, but it was a bit soul-less. I was always looking to get onto the jets. When I look back at that time, there wasn't a single airline who were doing all the things that we did. I don't know if it was our airline's attitude that we would take anything that was offered to us, which may have suited us at some point or another. But I couldn't see Britannia even considering the kind of charters we did. Was it just faffing about? You know, keeping the 748s busy, to just look like we were busy? Did they really bring in the dollars? You could argue that we didn't have a long-term strategy like other carriers. It often seemed like someone would ask 'can you do this' and the response at Dans was to say 'yes we can' - That is a fabulous attitude to have, but I still don't know if it was the right strategy. A part of me thinks that perhaps the senior management wanted to look like a large airline. Talking about Britannia - they carried almost as many passengers as we did with a fleet half the size. I would have liked to see us decide what we wanted to be. If we were a charter airline - get the 737s to do the same job as Britannia. It seemed a real slog to try and get a foothold on decent scheduled services. We had been at it thirty years as an airline. Air Europe only four years, yet they were being considered suitable for scheduled services to Alicante and Palma, times were certainly changing. i did eventually get a Firs Officer position on the 727 and eventually my command. I adored the 727 and I stayed loyal to Dan-Air until the end. I had total faith that the board room knew what they were doing. It is  only now, many years later that I look back and see how things might have been different if we did things differently. Then again, I might be completely wrong - I'm a pilot, not a businessman!'

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%. Bookings for 1984 stood at 590,000 holidays Intasun was part of the International Leisure Group (ILG) who also owned Air Europe, who had flown 1.2 million passengers in 1982. The success of Intasun meant that they would increase the number of flights they would charter from Dan-Air. Air Europe's aircraft, bizarrely were not used exclusively for Intasun. In fact, they more often chartered their aircraft to more upmarket clients.  
Intasun's style of operation had been very different to many other Tour Operators.  With their own airline, Air Europe, it was natural that they flew aircraft to destinations that ILG knew would be guaranteed to be full. Flights to Tenerife, Alicante and Palma for instance. This would mean that Air Europe's own flights would be fully utilised for the entire summer. Rules in the past had dictated that Tour Operators had to charter entire aircraft. When it became possible to charter smaller parts of an aircraft, Intasun leapt upon the opportunity. Intasun would wait until most Tour Operators had chartered all the aircraft for the season. ILG would then snap up any remaining or surplus seats. This was seen as a win-win situation for Dan-Air and ILG . If a smaller Tour Operator wanted to charter 100 seats a week from a UK airport to a holiday destination using a Boeing 737, then 30 seats would be going spare. This particularly suited Intasun on destinations that were less popular or new to the market.  This years Intasun chartered six Dan-Air aircraft. ILG, were also the owners of Lancaster, Club 18-30 and several other smaller brands, Who, like Intasun, were instructed to wait until airlines had completed their programme and then charter spare seats. Often these flights would be late night flights. Night flights would be a lot cheaper to operate as they would not be operating at peak times and therefore take off slots cost considerably less.

After only four years of operation as a charter only carrier, Air Europe had surprised many in the industry by applying for a licence to fly scheduled services from Gatwick to Gibraltar late in 1982. The service was already operated by GB Airways, so it came as no surprise that the application was rejected. It left no doubt, however, that the fledgling airline had high ambitions for the future.
A third airline commenced operations between Aberdeen-London when Air UK began flights in August. Dan-Air did not need to worry too much as the Air UK flight would depart from Stansted and land at Norwich before continuing to Aberdeen. Norwich was an under utilised airport, but Air UK had skilfully worked with KLM to feed UK passengers into Amsterdam for worldwide onward connections. This was a brave move, Amsterdam is a world class hub, and Air Anglia,the predecessor to Air UK, could not gain access to Heathrow. Air UK said to the press;
'The CAA, British Airways, and Heathrow have always had an active policy of denying independent airlines any access to Heathrow. It is grossly unfair. We have the aircraft, and the infrastructure to carry out these flights just as well as any airline,  including British Airways. Airlines will not be able to thrive when if are restricted in this way. Air Anglia, one of the airlines who came together to form Air UK, had been successful for many years in feeding passengers from several UK airports directly into Amsterdam, where they can make onward connections to all corners of the globe. Flying times are roughly the same as a domestic flight into Heathrow. We have worked extensively with KLM,  the Dutch national carrier, to time our flights so that they connect with some of the most popular world-wide destinations. Our passengers don't see any more or less inconvenience when flying into Schiphol.  We long ago came to the conclusion that Heathrow's loss is Amsterdam's gain. We have similar plans to do the same job at Brussels. It is a dreadful shame that British regulatory bodies do not wish to see this happen at Heathrow.'

August saw an application to join the busy Manchester-London service. British Airways flew half a million passengers between the two cities and Dan-Air believed they could take a share of them. The confidence might have stemmed from their own success on the Inverness-Heathrow service which had seen a 25% increase in the number of passengers travelled since Dan-Air had taken over the route. This was explained as 'We are offering a higher standard of service, attractive fares, jet aircraft and ideal timings.' The CAA then gave Dan-Air the right to operate head to head with BA on the Aberdeen-Heathrow service. Their latest proposals were to fly Aberdeen-Manchester-Heathrow.
The oil charters had dwindled as larger helicopters with a longer range were now available to take workers from Aberdeen directly onto oil rigs. Nevertheless, six HS-748 aircraft were based at Aberdeen for these charters. Half the number from just two years ago. Three other 748s were leased to British Airways for Highlands services. The nine remaining prop-liners worked on regional flights in the UK and Germany.

In September when Dan-Air commenced the Belfast-London Gatwick service. British Midland said they had no objections to other airlines flying from Belfast to Gatwick. Dan-Air Announced that they would slash not only fares, but flight times as well. Proposed fares would start from just £35 one way on twice daily flights. Timings would be reduced with the introduction of a BAC 1-11 jet, competing against BMA's ageing Viscounts. On this particular service, Dan-Air would be offering flights £9 cheaper than those of BA.

Food writer Egon Roney, who for many years had reviewed some of the best restaurants in the world, decided carry out reviews of airline food, service and cabins. All European airlines came in for hostile reviews. Caledonian was slammed for thier 'narrow seats', British Midland was berated for operating 'noisy old, aircraft and serving food that made the reviewer ashamed to be British'. British Airways came under fire for having 'unsmiling stewardesses' and Air UK for 'A miserable affair of a lunch box'. How did Dan-Air compare? Well, good and bad - Charming, friendly stewardesses, narrow seats and meals that were ok - if you were not hungry'.
Dan-Air was the only airline to comment to the press, saying; ' It's a pity that the reviews were carried out on flights that were not at meal times. On the Newcastle - Bergen and Gatwick - Zurich flights, all passengers received canapes and free drinks. If they had flown on the Aberdeen service they would have had the benefit of a full catering with a delicious hot meal and free bar.' The airline went on to say that they thought the report was unfair. Egon Roney replied 'We had complemented Dan-Air on their cabin crew!"
Dan-Air staff were not at all happy. Check-in girls Trudy Hunter, Diane Paton and Sheila Baynes hit back after being labelled 'robots' in Egon Ronay's 1984 guide. The guide, published in November, put Dan-Air at 11th place out of 18 European airlines, for comfort, efficiency and catering. As well as criticising the check-in clerks it said Dan-Air planes were uncomfortable and the stewardesses had no finesse, and expected their passengers to find their lack of polish at 'part of the fun'.
Dan-Air management laughed off the comments saying the thousands of satisfied passengers meant more to them that the grumblings of a 'tetchy' Egon Ronay, keen to be controversial. Sheila who had worked for Dan-Air for three years said the guide concentrated on the wrong aspect of the job, saying; 'The elderly, infirm and nervous passengers are treated with special,personal care and attention. We give them more time because they need that time. We are trying to see 130 people in about 60 minutes and we have important things to do. I think businessmen would be impatient if we kept them waiting. Trudy called the criticisms 'completely out of line'. Diane said 'If Egon Ronay's comments meant that Dan-Air's check-in clerks were as efficient as robots then she would agree. Dan-Air's public relations chief George Yeomans said;
'We are glad that the airline staff's cheerfulness came through in the Ronay critique. One inspector was won over by the naturalness of our rosy-cheeked norther lasses. The general tone of the report was that our service was friendly - we aim to give a friendly service. He was out of order giving a critique on meals when he flew on a none meal time flight like the one from Newcastle to Stavanger. In less than an hour our stewardesses are expected to serve food, give free drinks and sell duty-free goods. We take all reports seriously and we don't accept the general criticism of this one. We stand by the results we get at the end of the year and we are one of the few airlines that make a profit.'
schedule Service planning manager Frank Burke said: 'they are entitled to their opinion,we just happen to think that on this occasion they are wrong.'

Even the cargo business was improving with high yields on the Inverness-Heathrow service. After only six months operation,  the route it had become profitable, compared with British Airways who lost £500,000 on the route the previous year.
Pre-tax loses for the first half of the year were £2.8 million which was a £1 million more than the previous year. Fred Newman made an expected statement that this was normal for the first half of the year and would alter as soon as the busy summer months were underway. The fleet was fully utilised for the next Summer.
Spanish Authorities announced that from 1983 at lease 40% of all UK holidays to the country should have flights carried out by Spanish charter airlines. UK airlines called for immediate talks with the officials. At present 80% of charter flights to Spain were flown by UK airlines. The weakness of the Peseta made Spain an attractive destination for 1984.
With the Heathrow - Inverness service proving to be an undoubted success, Dan-Air were keen to expand their Scottish network. British Airways had undergone a restructuring process on their Highland and Islands network division, which led to a profit for the first time in forty years. The Aberdeen-Heathrow service was rumoured to make a profit of up to £20 million. BA's restructuring process was carried out for the carriers impending privatisation. British Airways did not want any competition on the Aberdeen route and objected when Air UK, British Midland and Dan-Air all applied for a licence. The Civil Aviation Authority conceded that it was fair that BA face competition from at least one other carrier. Going on to say that the service could be profitable for at least two airlines. The British Airports Authority were not of the same opinion, stating that Heathrow was perilously close to its capacity. Dan-Air would operate BAC 1-11 jets on the flights should they be successful. They felt, this would be more of an incentive to would be travellers who had to fly on HS 748 prop-liner with BA. British Airways said they were looking at replacing the 'old 748s' with Dash 8 prop-liners or re-equipping the 748s with improved engines. This was taken as a swipe at Dan-Air, as three of the 748s that BA used were leased from Dan-Air.

New Routes:

  • 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


The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) announced that they would finally convene a hearing to consider the proposed Aberdeen-Heathrow service. British Airways (BA) as the sole operator on the route did not wish to see any competition on it, as it was very profitable for them. British Airways never disclosed the profits on individual routes, but it was claimed that BA made as much as £20 million on this service alone. Four airlines, Air Ecosse, British Midland, Air UK and Dan-Air had all applied for licences between the two cities. Dan-Air proposal would place BAC 1-11 jets on the service, in contrast to British Airways' HS 748 prop-liners. Dan-Air would also provide hot meals and a free bar.

British Midland (BMA) had recently purchased Loganair, the small Scottish, regional carrier. The aim of which was to help BMA gain a stronger market share in Scotland. Their licence bid claimed they would improve cabin service 'beyond anything their competitors were presently offering.' Air Ecosse, the tiny Scotland based airline had leased a BAC 1-11 in advance, anticipating victory with their application. They claimed they were in the best position to meet Aberdeen passengers' needs as they were Aberdeen based. Air UK meanwhile,  were keeping what they would offer a secret until the hearing. Only revealing that the flights would use jet equipment. Every airline would object to every other airline's application.
The service was so desirable to all these carriers because out of the ten busiest routes that British Airways presently flew, Aberdeen-Heathrow was placed tenth. This 'blue riband' route carried more than 360,000 passengers annually on board BA's aircraft.
A second scheduled service out of West Berlin would open in January. Flights would take- off to Saarbrucken, in addition to the one already operating to Amsterdam. Both used HS-748 airliners.

Belfast passengers who were bound for Gatwick were at a risk of being stranded. On January 18th it was reported that Dan-Air were set to take over the Belfast-Gatwick service from British Midland who were transferring their London airport to Heathrow, in direct competition with British Airways. Dan-Air had pencilled February 20th as the start date, when they received a call from British Midland saying they had brought the date forward two weeks to February 6th. British Midland were cancelling their Gatwick flights on January 29th, and wanted Dan-Air to take over the next day. A Dan-Air spokesman said;
'We are desperately trying to prevent a gap. We don't want a situation where there are no flights at all operating from Aldergrove to Gatwick. We had an emergency meeting today and the earliest date we can start the flights is February 6th. Which will leave a one week lapse. We are bitterly disappointed at British Midland's last minute decision. We had hoped that they would hand over the service at the mutually agreed date. We had already stated at the public meeting that we would need at least four weeks to get the flights organised.'
Belfast would have an unprecedented number of flights to the capital. Strangely, British Midland were refusing to give exact times for their flights. Nor would they give an exact date for when they intended to start flights into Heathrow, but it was believed they would start in early March. Fares would be £96 return. The plan was to operate seven return flights a day. British Airways would, in contrast be flying nine flights daily with five on Saturdays and Sundays. A no restriction ticket would be priced at £55 one way.
British Midland had been using ageing Vickers Viscount aircraft on the service, Dan-Air would introduce BAC 1-11 jets, which would reduce the flying time by forty minutes to just one hour and ten minutes. Three return flights a day would be carried out, at 7 am, 11 am and 5:15 pm with a single return flight on weekend days. The return fare would be £70. Dan-Air said they would vigorously fight for their market share.  

A Company Boeing 737 touched down in Stansted on 13th February, making it the first holiday jet to be based at the airport in thirteen years. The aircraft was operating on behalf of Thomas Cook who would be using the aircraft for their Summer programme. The jet would fly in and out of Stansted five days a week to Majorca, Ibiza, Menorca, Tenerife and Malaga. Cooks said that if the flights were popular, Portugal and Greece would be added the following year. It would mean that a Boeing 737 would be based at Stansted for the entire season. Essex based travel agent 'Classic Tours' offered holidays to the destinations using surplus seats that Thomas Cooks did not require. One former Dan-Air employee told us;
"We knew that many Tour Operators had their own airline and would naturally use them first. Some of them, Thomson mainly, never used us and some, like Cooks and Intasun used us a lot - but even with them, we were not ever going to be their first choice. As the years went by, I saw new airlines pop up and more often than not they were backed by a Tour Operator. I'd been aware of talks about us buying into a major company or even starting one up ourselves. We had 'Dan-Air Holidays' but surprisingly,  they were a very up-market brand, who offered packages to the Channel Islands and cities that were served by our Scheduled Services. The holidays were quite expensive. We never got a foothold with a Tour Operator that would use us as their 'go to' carrier. As far as I am concerned, it was a huge mistake. Thomas Cook used us a great deal and I wish that we had made a formal link with them. They were respected in the industry and as well as having the Tour Operation they also had a chain of high street Travel Agents. It was the way that the industry was heading. You have to bear in mind that there was no internet then - the only way you could travel really was by expensive scheduled flights or as part of a package. Dan-Air did very well to have a share of the charter market as high as we did. But, it was such a complex process, compared to our rivals.  When this company ''Classic Holidays'  approached us, wanting a full aircraft. We were delighted, That was beginning to happen less and less. So many of our flights were filled with 'bits and bobs'. I would be part of a team that would listen to a proposal from a Tour Operator or Travel Agent,  and we would do our best to make it happen. But working with more than a hundred Tour Operators made life very complicated. It also made work a complete thrill. My days at Dan were the best of my life. I can't tell you the times I have had twenty seats left each week on a flight for a season and being told to find someone who wanted to buy that block - phoning every contact I had and hammering out a deal was exciting - Somehow we managed to do it nearly every time, sometimes with only a few days left to spare.'

Manx Airlines applied to take-over the Isle of Man-Birmingham service from Dan-Air. Services to the island had been reduced over the last few years as overseas holidays became more affordable. Manx were local to the island and claimed that Dan-Air were only operating the flights occasionally at weekends. If successful, Manx would operate year round services with a Shorts 360 regional prop-liner.

Intasun began offering holidays to Majorca from East Midlands for the first time this year. A BAC 1-11 would depart at 7 a.m every Thursday for the summer months. The Bristol-Amsterdam service was reduced from eight return flights a week to seven.

When I researched the dateline for Dan-Air, which is an on-going project, I didn't know whether to include the next article, but I decided, on balance to do so. It is a little bit random, but it is a fascinating story. So, A Captain with Court Line was celebrated in the press in 1974. The Tristar he Captained was about to be impounded in Canada when he, and his crew managed to get the passengers aboard the aircraft and took off. He announced to his passengers 'First the good news, we are going home, now the bad news is that Court Line has collapsed.' When Captain Hogg landed he was interviewed by journalists and made headlines. The story was even featured on TV. After the collapse of Court Line, Captain Hogg joined Dan-Air and trained for the Boeing 727 fleet. At the time Hogg's marriage was falling apart. His wife, was well known in their village for her promiscuity. In an attempt to more focused on the family Hogg set her up in business as a restaurateur. This didn't help, she continued her affairs. The couple had two children. Hogg was well-liked as a person and respected as a pilot. However, in 1976 Hogg reported his wife to be missing. He told the police that his wife had been having an affair and it was believed that she had in fact ran away with the much older man. Hogg continued his work as a pilot and was granted a divorce on the grounds of desertion.

Captain Peter Hogg

Fast forward a few years and we see that Captain Hogg was now working as a Captain with Air Europe. He had found love with Rosemary Steele. Hogg, Steele and  sons Geoffrey and David lived in the house in Cranleigh, Surrey that he had shared with his former wife, Margaret. His eldest son, an eighteen year old was working at Gatwick as a baggage handler and their fourteen year old son was at a boarding school. On March 1st 1984 police divers were searching Wastwater Lake in Cumbria looking for a French student, Veronique Marre who had been reported as missing after a stay at a Youth Hostel in the Lake District the previous year. The lake is the deepest in the UK. Divers found a body in the lake, trussed in carpet and wrapping and weighed down with a concrete block. The body was of a woman in her thirties with dark hair. The icy temperature and plastic had prevented the corpse from decomposing and being eaten by fish.  Hogg was arrested in March and charged with Margaret's murder. He was remanded in custody, at a separate hearing he was granted bail on condition he surrender his pilot's license. Captain Hogg admitted killing Margaret by strangling her following an explosive row with her over her lover. The court was told she had come at him like a tiger, scratching him and kicking him in the crutch. Hogg said it was 'extraordinarily painful' He lost control, and retaliated by punching her in the face. He then 'got her by the throat, squeezing hard until she stopped squirming.' Before her body was cold he wrapped her in plastic and carpet and dragged her to the boot of his car. astonishingly he then made the 1000 mile round trip to Cumbria. He made an appointment with his son's school in Taunton and attended, with his wife in the boot. He was aware that people would assume he was spending the night in Taunton, and instead drove to Cumbria. In the dark of night he inflated a dinghy and rowed to what he thought was the deepest part of the lake. He then threw her body overboard. He then drove back to Taunton to pick his son up to take him home for the school holidays. The body lay undisturbed for seven and a half years. Hogg said she had been tainting him for years about her affairs. After the murder he said 'Sanity returned and I felt shock, horror and the realisation that I had to get rid of the body.' Back in Cranleigh, he told friends and family that she had walked out on him. He said 'It was quite easy to settle down again.' He said that he had been waiting for years for the midnight knock at the door from police. He wasn't sure if the body would float to the surface. He said he had thought of the incident 'a couple of times a day at least.'

Hogg must have thought he had got away with the crime, but for two mistakes. He had not removed her wedding ring that bore the inscription 'Margaret 15-11-63 - Peter. the second mistake was to wrap her body in plastic sheeting that had a shop's name and address in Guildford printed on it. Four extraordinary chances also led to his arrest. The body had only sunk 108 feet, the body had been caught on a ledge. If he had rowed just twenty more years the body would have sunk 258 feet and would almost certainly never have been discovered. The third chance was that the body was first spotted by civilian divers in December 1983 but was too heavy to lift, and they assumed it might have been a dog. She had been identified using dental records from dentists in the Guildford area. The dentist had revealed that records were destroyed after seven years and it was completely by chance that her record was held. Hogg was found not guilty of murder, but guilty of manslaughter. He was also found guilty of obstructing the Surrey Coroner and committing perjury in later divorce proceedings when he swore he had no idea about Margaret's whereabouts. He was sentenced for three years for manslaughter and twelve months consecutively for the other offences.

But back to Dan-Air....

As March approached, rumours circulated that Dan-Air would be withdrawing their application for the Heathrow-Aberdeen service. Dan-Air fiercely denied the rumours and stated that nothing had changed as far as they were concerned. Just two weeks later Dan-Air withdrew their application. A company spokesman said 'We were being realistic and that not only did not not want to fly the route, we don't think anyone else should either' claiming '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.'
In May the CAA refused applications from Air Ecosse and Air UK for Aberdeen-London flights. This upset Air Ecosse in particular as they had leased a BAC 1-11 especially for the service, and went to the lengths of training pilots and cabin crew for the new service. Air Ecosse had ambitions to turn Aberdeen into a hub airport.

British Midland would be challenging British airways on the Belfast-Heathrow service from March 25th Dan-Air were successful with the CAA request to offer a low off-peak fare of £27 on the flights. A lightening strike called by Belfast airport workers saw flights diverted into Belfast harbour airport.

A Dan-Air BAC 1-11 was chartered by Pickford's Travel in April for trials of a new pleasure flight. As part of it's schedule the aircraft sat idle at Aberdeen for six hours every Monday. Pickfords offered would be jet travellers, a one hour pleasure flight for an affordable £27. The flight would travel around the Scottish Highlands, giving passengers stunning views of the incomparable Scottish landscape. The first two flights were massively over subscribed with Pickfords saying that they could easily have filled another aircraft. The flights offered a paid bar service. The flights were successful and several more were carried out.
the Gatwick-Jersey service would restart in May this year, with one way fares from just £35.May would see the inauguration of a new daily scheduled service to Zurich from Manchester using BAC 1-11 aircraft. Switzerland's financial capital, Zurich had already been proven as a successful destination for Dan-Air from Gatwick, in June a second daily service to the city was introduced with BAC 1-11 jets. Berne would now be served from Gatwick with the BAe 146. There would now be 22 flights a day from Gatwick to Switzerland.

For a short time in early 1984, the company used a Handley Page Herald on its scheduled network. This aircraft had to be leased in from British Air Ferries.  On February 27th the aircraft took off from Newcastle on a scheduled flight to Stavanger.  Shortly after take off, lights in the flight deck indicated that the brakes had jammed. A major incident followed which saw the aircraft flying to burn off fuel and then land declaring a full scale emergency. A minor electrical fault had caused the drama. The next day the aircraft was returned to British Air Ferries, never to return. The negative publicity was something no airline could wish for.

Eight UK airlines, Dan Air, Monarch, Air UK, Britannia, Orion, British Midland, British Caledonian and British Island Airways urged the Government not to sell British Airways off as a monopoly. Whilst they all welcomed the privatisation of the state carrier, they collectively felt that it would be detrimental to thier own survival if BA were allowed to retain 'the dominant position enjoyed by British Airways for historical reasons, should not be perpetuated in private ownership.' The airlines wanted to see an end to the 'immense difficulties' they had faced trying to survive in the shadow of BA. Together, the carriers wrote to the CAA, pressing for an early assurance that in the process of privatisation, the unfair and regulatory bias will not be allowed to weigh against the existing private sector.' They concluded by saying 'It would be a travesty, of commercial justice , if, in the enthusiasm to bring a state corporation to join the private sector, the existing private airlines were to be commercially damaged, and a valuable British industrial asset was depleted in scope and diminished in value. '

There had been a large increase in passenger numbers the previous year, resulting in Davies & Newman share price reached a record high of 181p in January. Davies and Newman claimed that this was due to an unprecedented surge in summer sun bookings. The charter programme for 1984 was looking to be a packed season with the entire fleet fully utilised.  
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 service.
Manchester traffic was given a boost when a new service from Manchester to Zurich commenced this year and the Gatwick - Jersey service became an all year round service this year.
End of year profits for the Davies and Newman  group rose from £3.32 million to £4.31 million shares rose again to 198p.

On May 24th Dan-Air announced an order for a 149 seat Boeing 737 300 series. The latest, most technologically advanced version of the jet. Disclosing to the press that 'More and more of our scheduled services were now being operated by jet aircraft, the BAe 146 in particular.' Dan-Air said it was ideal for services that had previously been flown with prop-liners. The BAe 146 had double the capacity of the HS-748 and used about the same fuel. The 146 was quieter and had a galley that could prepare hot food. This was an important factor, BAC 1-11 and HS 748 aircraft had galley limitations. Neither of the aircraft types had ovens, which was a problem if your company was offering hot food. To counter measure this issue pre-cooked hot meals were loaded vacuum storage boxes. These boxes could keep the food hot for up to three hours. This minor inconvenience was an additional expense, that wouldn't be the case on the BAe 146, which outperformed the 1-11 in almost every way - for the first time, since joining the fleet, the HS 748 was under employed.  In no small part because Dan-Air had lost the oil charter contract in 1982. Three of the 748s were therefore leased to Philippines Airlines.

Tees-Side was added as an additional stop on the Newcastle-Amsterdam service. Flights would undergo a one month trial period using the BAe 146 aircraft. The new service would see jets replacing the HS-748 turboprop. Fares would be from £79. Dan-Air's Martin Clough said;
'The public were becomming more fastidious wanting jet aircraft that are also comfortable as well as faster and quieter. We will be taking on British Caledonian head to head on the service. The service has been a loss-maker for the last two years, but we are confident that the introduction of this aircraft will see a boost in business. Flights between Newcastle and Tees-Side are just twenty minutes and the flight to Amsterdam is a mere sixty minutes, forty minutes faster than before.'
The new Newcastle - Tees Side - Amsterdam service was an overnight success. British Caledonian withdrew from the route leaving Dan-Air with a monopoly on the service. It was hardly a surprise as BCal had fares at £102 and Dan-Air came in at £79. Keen to capitalise on this, it was announced that the Dan-Air wanted to link Glasgow to the newly acquired service. If the new routes were successful they would add them as point to point destinations.

The BAe 146 would also be introduced on two days on the daily flights from Cardiff-Bristol-Amsterdam service.
Dan-Air, British Midland and Air UK agreed to apply for different flights out of Manchester if the CAA stripped British Airways of some of their Manchester flights after an anticipated report was published. The three airlines would co-operate on similar flights that BA may lose from Glasgow and Birmingham. Michael Bishop of British Midland said 'It won't stop other airlines applying for them, but we do not want to enter a dog flight with each other.' Air UK said; 'Because British Airways has domestic services and this huge hub at Heathrow, Its interest is to send passengers via Heathrow. That has slowed the advancement of direct services from Manchester to the continent.'
A new service from Tees-Side to Belfast would commence on August 6th. The flights would be operated by 48 seat HS-748 prop-liner. The route had been abandoned by Humberside regional carrier Gen-Air, who, until going bust had been using Shorts 330s.

Air Europe were granted a licence to operate scheduled flights between Gatwick and Palma in July, a licence Dan-Air had also applied for. A Dan-Air spokesman said that the 'CAA had once again not examined the proposals. For many years independent airlines who operated charter flights were told that they did not have the necessary experience of scheduled service operations. We have been flying them for thirty years. An airline who have never flown scheduled flights were granted a licence after less than five years of operations.' Britannia Airways were granted the licence for Manchester-Palma. The Parent company of Air Europe, International Leisure Group Chairman, Harry Goodman said that there was an over capacity on the charter market and that despite accounting for 40% of the group's profit, part of Air Europe may be sold. In August Air Europe sold four aircraft and leased out a Boeing 757 on order. They also made 40 pilots redundant. The fleet would consist of just three Boeing 737 and two Boeing 757. They also applied for eight scheduled licenses in Spain, Portugal and Gibraltar, one of which was only awarded to BA the month before. British Midland made 39 pilots redundant after failing to wrestle the Manchester-New York service away from British Airways.

British Airways now saw Dan-Air as a potential threat to them on scheduled services, and so they stepped up their London Gatwick-Aberdeen service adding greater frequencies. Dan-Air responded by linking with American Airlines to provide feeder flights for their transatlantic 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 available at £48. Better value could be found on the 'Extra Saver Ticket' - priced at £30. British Airways' regular single fare was £87. British Airways had lost the battle to stop Dan-Air. Flights The new service would commence in April 1985.

Talks with the Secretary of State for Transport, Nick Ridley, went ahead in August this year. The Government had announced that British Airways would be privatised the following year. A group of 18 independent airlines lobbied ministers to try to get them to ensure BA's Gatwick operations would transfer entirely to the independent airlines ahead of the anticipated £1000 million sale. British Airways however, 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 increased financial muscle. British Airways had ready made network that was second to none in the world and a fleet of aircraft that was 200 strong, with many of the aircraft purchased within with the last year or two. 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. The independents 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 criticised by Dan-Air who accused the Government of setting back aviation in the UK by ten years. British Caledonian Chairman, Adam Thomson had a meeting with Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and other carrier's chief further met Transport Secretary Nick Ridley. They all explained that between them they carried more that twenty million passengers and more that 17,000 people were employed by the lobbying airlines alone. They were looking for re-assurance. Lord King, British Airways' Chairman said the Government would be 'breaking a pledge' if it agreed to transfer routes. He said BA supported competition between airlines on individual routes, but rejected a straight transfer. 'It would lead to considerable redundancies and loss of revenue, and therefore profit.' He said.
One of the company managers told us;

'It's something that I have never commented on, and the fact that I am doing so now surprises me. I don't want my name out there, for obvious reasons. The fact of the matter is that British Airways had been primed for sale. BA's privatisation was going to raise a fortune. But it wasn't always like that, just a few years prior, BA stank. They were losing millions on lots of their routes. Their fleet was terrible, and the Government put an absolute fortune into them to make them suitable for privatisation.  Behind the scenes they behaved in an appalling way for decades. When they were two carriers (BEA & BOAC) They ordered aircraft that the Government were paying for, well, the public were paying for. Then when they got them, they didn't want them. Despite the fact that the aircraft had been produced specifically for their requirements. BOAC were called 'The Boeing Only Aircraft Corporation' They had the luxury of a huge workforce, who were only too aware that it was very unlikely that they would ever be made redundant.  Both companies were terribly over-manned, and the overheads were so much higher than an airline like ours. The merger of the two companies was hellish. Not only for other carriers, but for themselves. They were both giants but they had such different operations. All of this transferred to the public, who had become to loathe them as an airline. Their service was dreadful, they didn't care a toss about their passengers. They didn't have to, because if you wanted to get to a capital city from Heathrow - who else could you fly with? - no-one, unless you went with an overseas carrier.  Almost every UK city with an airport had a connection to Heathrow - provided by them of course. What was a fact, was that UK airlines, other than them, were treated as pretend airlines. They would throw us a nugget here and there in an attempt to keep us happy. Everyone knew it was largely a waste of time applying for a licence, because if BA didn't oppose it, then the CAA would, if not them, the BAA. Most independents were indeed playing second fiddle, by operating charter services that might not be there the next year, and were not there all year round in any case. In the early days of package holidays, BEA and BOAC stuck their oars into every aspect of charter flights from the price to where we were allowed to fly. They even set up a charter airline to eat into the very business we clung onto.
It doesn't matter how well we ran the airline, we would never be given a fair chance. The third force in aviation - British Caledonian; it was never a third force. It was a smokescreen, like British United before it was. BCal never got into Heathrow, had they done so - they would have beaten BA on any service. As would we, and we did on the Inverness-Heathrow sector. When we were given the chance to go head to head on Heathrow-Manchester, BA put on larger aircraft, increased frequency, timed flights to depart ten minutes before each of ours - lowered fares and threw the kitchen sink at it. Of course they were losing money on it. But they could keep that up for as long as it took. Because they had the money - they, until privatisation -  had the Government as a bank. Over the years they saw off Laker, ate up BCal, Dan-Air and British Midland  - Every route they lost at the time of privatisation - they got back, every landing slot - the lot. It was terrible. What is even worse, is that the most harmful aspects of all this were carried out when the Conservatives were in office. The party of business and competition.  They created a near monopoly out of BA in 1973, they invested in a loss making, sloppy carrier, making it ripe for privatisation, and then let them behave like a shark - eating up all opposition. I have nothing but contempt for them. When deregulation started in Europe in 1992, airlines like Easy Jet and Ryanair thrived, thankfully; just look at the size of both of them now, they have been able to achieve what they have achieved since deregulation. Without Heathrow, I might add. We had a good product and the experience - we should have been able to fly from where we wanted to where we wanted with fares we dictated. I am convinced - that we would have become a much bigger airline and still be around today if we could have made our own decisions. I didn't want total deregulation, that could have killed off smaller carriers - I wanted fair regulation. Who were the CAA to tell us 'no'? Airlines know if they can survive on a route after a short time and they withdraw from it. We were being told that we couldn't fly to places because the railways might suffer! We couldn't fly from Liverpool because BEA were flying to the same city from Manchester - Outrageous interventions. My attitude then and now was provided an airline is safe, they should have let them get on with it. The pubic should have decided whether they wanted to fly on Dan-Air, British Airways or any other carrier. What the CAA should have opposed and stopped happening was airlines, like Laker from being driven out of business. It is a disgrace.'

August 16th saw Dan-Air in the news for the wrong reasons when it was brought to everyone's attention when it was discovered that only a handful of cabin crew were male. These few males were only employed on mail flights, and oil supply charters. Not on regular services. The airline employed 600 female cabin crew and four female pilots. A statement was issued saying  "We honestly believe that the majority of our passengers prefer young ladies as cabin crew." The Equal Opportunities Commission said there would not be a formal investigation. Saying that they preferred 'Persuasion'.

September 28th saw the CAA licence Dan-Air and Air UK to fly direct from Newcastle to Amsterdam. For the third year running Dan-Air would be offering long weekend flights from Newcastle to Stavanger or Bergen 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.
Dan-Air announced that they wished to extend their links with Heathrow and Inverness. In addition to the flights they already operated between the two cities, They 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. It would also open up the many package holidays departing from  Manchester.  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 they had applied to serve Lourdes in the south of France with return fares from £102. Despite the economic situation in the UK, with a miner's strike that had, at the end of the year, lasted six months, 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, half a million more than that. In total, 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. Metropolitan was not in the best of financial health.

Half-year profits for the company had slipped into the red again in October. This was pretty normal, although the figure of £2.97 million was heavy. Increased aircraft hire charges more than wiped out an improved operating surplus. The measure of the airline's expansion was shown with an increase in turnover, which was up from £78.7 million to £99.9 million. In common with much of the airline industry, margins were under pressure.

Bergen and Stavanger in Norway had been a Dan-Air scheduled services destinations for much of its history, operating from Newcastle. The airline applied for scheduled licenses to operate to both cities from Gatwick this year as well as to Lourdes in the south of France. There would also be weekend flights to the Norwegian cites from Newcastle.

The recent problems experienced by Air Europe earlier this year continued to have an impact on the carrier. More staff were made redundant at Manchester. Air Europe were owned by Intasun and the industry was shocked to see Intasun award rival carrier British Airtours a five year contract to carry Intasun holiday-makers, citing 'commercial reasons'. Andy Handford of Air Europe said:
'I believe that whatever the British Airtours deal was, it went beyond what could have been a commercially viable level. It was predatory pricing to take away our business. Yet, Air Europe's profits we £7.6 million, 43% of Intasun's total profit, and with the award of 'charter airline of the year' (awarded by the Travel Trade Gazette) They could reasonably claim to be the best in the business. I am absolutely demoralised.'
British Airtours said that they were not subsidised by British Airways and had to bid for charter business like 'any other airline. The company's pricing policy is based upon profit, without which we would go out of business. Therefore our prices are commercially viable and not in any way predatory.'

One of our contributors from the charter division told us;
'I had no idea that they were in any way struggling. They always presented themselves as a success story. I worked in the charter division for two decades, and what British Airtours said was true to a point. The thing is, if you own a tour operator and an airline then the interline arrangements are far more simple. You don't have to take bids from other carriers, you know what the margin is for profit. What is more, Air Europe had a better fleet than British Airtours in terms of modernity and cost effectiveness until about 1983. So Air Europe would have been fully aware of Airtours' costs. AE had sold on four  aircraft and were about to embark on scheduled services. In my opinion they would have wanted less density in the cabin with better service. They didn't have spare aircraft to dedicate to a scheduled operation. I reckon they just farmed out the charters to anyone. They certainly didn't offer the job to us. We were in an ideal position at Manchester, and we worked for years with Intasun. I dunno, I think this was perhaps the start of their campaign to get us out of the way. I remember even at the beginning they said how efficient their aircraft were and how passengers expected the best in air travel these days. I thought at the time, is that a dig at us? It's a toss-up who was the biggest charter airline, us or Britannia. Thomson's owned Britannia, they were the biggest Tour Operator, so there's no way they could get rid of them. They knew which airlines had the backing of their own Tour Operator and they needed their own aircraft to be chartered by other Tour Operators. The senior management were mainly ex Dans and they knew what we operated and how we did so. We were large and I got the feeling they wanted us to not be so large.'

Air Europe's Gatwick charter passengers had been introduced to a new 'Premier Class' on flights. The service had been popular and was introduced to Manchester charter flights to Tenerife and Madeira. A maximum of eleven passengers would enjoy the service which would be equal to first class travel on European scheduled services they claimed.  For between £19 and £38 they would get dedicated check-in, the use of an executive lounge. On board they would get a free bar, hot towels and hot meal. Free wine was served with the meal which would include a meat course, fresh fruit,a cheese board and liqueurs to follow. Plastic glasses and cups were out. Only the best glassware and crockery would be used. The aircraft would also have a dedicated cabin. One of our contributors said;
'It was excellent. My flat-mate worked for them. We were both Manchester based. I must confess I was jealous and did consider applying for a job. I spoke to Diane Humpage who was our base stewardess at Manchester and she said 'yes I've heard about it, sounds fabulous.' When I asked if were doing the same, she shrugged her shoulders and said, 'we'll have to see.'  That, was to me, a big mistake for us. We should have been all over that over the winter months. Even for the next year - but we never did anything with charter flights. I know our service was excellent. As good as anyone's, but we never got in-flight entertainment. I learned that was because it cost too much to install on older aircraft. But the new ones we were getting didn't have it either! We did have an all bells and whistles business class - but not for a few years. It didn't make any difference to my job, but it would have made the passengers experience better.'

Most of the restrictions concerning charter flights were finally removed this year. 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 holiday-makers visiting the island.
Seven Boeing 737 were now in the fleet, a larger fleet of the type than Air Europe! Seven Boeing 727 100 and four 200 series were also wearing the company colours. Nineteen BAC 1-11 were used on scheduled services and a reducing role in charter flights. Four BAe 146 were playing an active role in the scheduled services network. The oil supply charters were decreasing, but several HS-748 aircraft were still operating the Aberdeen flights for oil companies.  Some of the HS-748 fleet was leased out to other carriers, and others flew on low density scheduled services. One of the 748s was based at Berlin. The Berlin base also had two 727, one 737 and one BAC 1-11 based permanently in the German city.

Further expansion at Dan-Air Engineering saw the opening a third base - this time at Gatwick. The project would cost an estimated £10 million Lengthy talks resulted in the airline receiving planning permission for the largest hanger at Gatwick to date.  The success of the Inverness-Heathrow service warranted Dan-Air looking at Engineering facilities at the Inverness airport in addition to a dedicated cargo facility. Cargo handling had been a major boost to profits on the service. 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.
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 HS-748)
  • 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 commence April 1st 1985
  • Birmingham - Geneva - 16 Weeks ski flights


1985 got off to a flying start when in January the millionth BAe 146 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 1984 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 airline 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 carried out at the important base, which was also the home of pilot training. A new scheduled service from Newcastle to Oslo would open in March, extending Dan-Air's link to Norway.
On January 9th, a BAC 1-11 carrying 60 passengers was 30 seconds from touch-down when the air traffic controllers refused permission for it to land. The aircraft had been delayed at Gatwick because of bad weather. The aircraft was 90 minutes behind schedule when it made the final approach. With just seconds remaining the Captain was told that the airport was closed. The 10:30 p.m closing time was because of local noise restrictions. A Dan-Air spokesman said; 'It was outrageous. The aircraft had to overshoot the runway and divert to Glasgow, 150 miles away. We are making a formal complaint to the British Airports Authority.'  the airport said that they deeply regretted the inconvenience caused, but that the law was the law, and we have to live with it.  The diversion to Glasgow had cost Dan-Air £4,000 with extra landing fees and the cost of bussing passengers to Aberdeen. The airliner then had to pay take-off fees and use fuel to fly back to Glasgow to start operating the days schedule.  The passengers did not arrive in Aberdeen until 4 a.m. Recordings of the conversation between air traffic control and the Captain confirmed that the wheels were down, landing lights were on and the time was 10:31 p.m.
On 11th February one of the new BAe 146 airliners. After taking off from Newcastle bound for Stavanger, the pilot noticed that there was a problem with a fuel gauge indicator when transferring fuel from one tank to another. The aircraft was 150 miles out into the North Sea when the Captain requested permission to return to Newcastle. An RAF Nimrod was scrambled and life-boats were launched in case the aircraft needed to ditch into the sea. The aircraft landed safely with all four engines running. The airliner had left Gatwick for Newcastle and had been taken back to the stand after a starter motor had failed.  This made the aircraft delayed. Neither incident was related, but the jet was removed from service and a BAC 1-11 was substituted for the flight which was no running two hours behind schedule. The aircraft was repaired and re-entered service the following day.
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, BAe 146 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 they had been successful with an application to serve Amsterdam from Manchester. This would benefit Aberdeen and Inverness as they had direct flights to Manchester with Dan-Air.
The self titled 'world's favourite airline' British Airways were up in arms over Dan-Air's plans to fly scheduled services into  Madrid and Lisbon from Gatwick. Dan-Air were seeking to limit the amount of flights that British Airways flew on the route. BA claimed that it was not competition, but replacement. Air Europe had plans to operate scheduled flights to Madrid, Barcelona and Malaga. BA said this was substituting one carrier with another, which they said was contrary to Government policy.

In March, British Airways leased another Dan-Air HS 748 for their Highlands and Islands division. British Airways had recently intensified 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. It was also a contradiction of British Airways' stated aims of 1984 that they wanted to get rid of 'old 748s' and replace them with Dash 8s.
Dan-Air launched three services from Manchester to Bergen, Stavanger and Oslo in April. Fares would start from £109 return.

Results for the full year announced in May saw Dan-Air's profits fall from £4.3 million last year to just £3.1 million. 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 £242.8 million. Interest payments were down 48.6% at £1.69 million. There had been a £1.4 million benefit from the share of profits from associated companies.

The new 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 the route that was already firmly established. Dan-Air's load factors were a disaster from day one.  In an attempt to make headway on any available passengers, Dan-Air increased the 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. Dan-Air believed that when passengers had experienced the Dan-Air difference they would be hooked. In reality, all it did was increase load factors for the month of June. No amount of free drinks, promises of hot meals and great service would be enough. Especially, if every time you had an aircraft scheduled to depart, the competition put one on ten minutes before.
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 Boeing 757 that British Airways used was a magnificent aircraft, and had been an instant hit for British Airways as well as several charter operators. Dan Air themselves stated in public that they were considering it. Dan Air's BAC 1-11 was old, small 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.

Newcastle plane-spotters got a treat on Saturday 4th May this year when a brand new Boeing 737 300 series was flown in from Seattle. The aircraft was the first of its type to land at Newcastle. Cleaners looked bemused as they boarded the gleaming jet only to find that the aircraft had just a few seats on board. The 149 seats that would be used in service would be fitted that weekend before the aircraft conducted a series of test flights before entering service. Its first flight would be Gatwick-Zurich. The 300 series was one of only forty that had been delivered world-wide so far. Before the aircraft left the Boeing plant Dan-Air's director of engineering, Lee Crockford was presented with a solid silver key to the plane. the Boeing 737 300 series uses 20% less fuel than the 200 series and carries almost 20 more passengers. The aircraft stayed in Newcastle for one hour before flying to Gatwick to be cleared by customs.

In late 1984 Air Europe had reduced their fleet of Boeing 737 aircraft to just four models, whilst at the same time, their parent company Intasun chartered British Airtours Boeing 737s to carry their holiday-makers. The move was called a  predatory threat by Air Europe employees who could not understand why the company had chosen to sell their own aircraft and charter the same type from another airline.  This year, British Airtours hit back at the accusations. Britannia Airways alleged that British Airways predatory practices forced them to axe 350 jobs. In an attempt to put things right and set the record straight, Airtours boss, Rod Lynch faced the press. He said he thought it was necessary to clarify the situation concerning the current market position and method of operation;
'As a separate company British Airtours produces its own profit and loss account and balance sheet, and these are audited prior to being submitted prior to approval by the board of directors. We lease aircraft from our parent company, British Airways, on normal commercial terms, and any suggestion that we lease them for less than the going rate is untrue. If it were true it would not be necessary to lease on the open market, nor would British Airtours be able to lease in aircraft profitably. The charter market is going through one of the most significant changes in recent year,but Airtours do not object to that.
In response to the claim that Airtours has an unfair advantage over other charter carriers, Mr. Lynch said 'If that were true we would not be the third largest charter airline, behind Dan-Air and Britannia,'

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. May also saw Air Europe enter the scheduled services market with flights from Gatwick to Palma starting. Air Europe would be in competition with four other airlines on the route.
Orion Airways had been formed as part of the Horizon Holidays Group. It commenced operations with two Boeing 737 200 aircraft. By 1984 their fleet had grown to eleven aircraft. In 1985 the airline began operating 737 300 aircraft. For the first five years of its existence Orion flew exclusively for Horizon, who were one of the largest Tour Operators in the UK. Horizon also used Dan-Air aircraft on their programme. In 1985 it was announced that Orion would now carry out charter flights for other Tour Operators besides Horizon. With so many competitors Dan-Air were at risk of being squeezed. Air Europe, Britannia, Monarch and Orion were all after the same business. In most cases the major Tour Operators had their own in house airline. Dan-Air were the largest exception. Britannia commenced operations with wide-body aircraft in 1984, when the Boeing 767 joined their fleet. Britannia Airways carried 4.5 million passengers, in 1985, half a million less than Dan-Air, but the Thomson profit was £26 million.

In May a group of boozy rugby players boarded a company HS748 on a flight from Cardiff bound for Jersey. Many of them were already drunk, and shortly after take off began singing bawdy rugby songs and dancing in the aisle. Six of them dropped their trousers in front of cabin crew. The Captain had twice ordered them to behave before landing at Jersey. Upon landing one of the men opened an emergency door and stepped out onto the wing. He then jumped off the wing onto the runway. The danger cannot be overstated as the propellor driven engines were still turning and the man could have been torn to shreds by the blades. The men were arrested and later fined £60 by Jersey magistrates for reckless, drunken behaviour. Dan-Air then refused to carry all fifty of them back to Cardiff, saying 'We simply cannot risk that kind of behaviour on board our aircraft.' The men had to make their way home by sea and road as other airlines also refused to carry them.
In June, the Gatwick-Munich service was restarted after a four year absence. This came as a result of a renegotiation of the air services agreement. The Civil Aviation Authority refused Dan-Air's application to revoke British Airways license on the Gatwick-Madrid and Gatwick-Lisbon services.  The eleven day hearing also concluded that the state owned airline could not fly from Gatwick to Palma. Rod Lynch, Managing Director of British Airtours, who operated British Airways' flights out of Gatwick said he was pleased with the decision. Applications from Orion Airways and British Island Airways to operate their charter flights with 50% of the seats sold as seat only was also refused. The CAA also turned down applications from Air Europe (Gatwick - Madrid, Alicante,Malaga) Britannia (Gatwick - Malaga, Palma) and Orion Airways (Gatwick/Manchester/East Midlands -Alicante, Malaga, Las Palmas, Tenerife, Palma) Michael Croft a travel Manager at Hogg Robinson told us;

'The sheer cockiness of the CAA left us all breathless. We had all sorts of advance material from all of these airlines who were keen to get on the schedules market. There was absolutely no reason at all why any of these airlines should have been denied a licence to operate any of these services. What sort of operation did they think these airlines were carrying out? Air Europe, as far as I could see were miles ahead of BA in terms of modernity - and the aircraft that Dan-Air wanted to operate on them were brand new Boeing 737 300s. So it was not the aircraft. The charter airlines had well trained staff, knew how to run an airline, without Government backing I hasten to add. They had everything in place. What were they protecting? British Airways? The public? The airlines themselves? The public were safe anyway, because the same rules applied to charter airlines as they did to charter carriers when it came to safety and airworthiness. The airlines knew all the risks they would be taking, and let's face it, it would be their money they were losing, if the services failed - which was unlikely because they were to high density destinations that were always the most popular - by a long long way. Can you imagine in 2024 saying to an airline - ' you can't sell half the seats on your aircraft as seat only - You can sell 20% of them and the rest of the passengers have to be part of a package tour deal.' - It was a ludicrous situation. The independents and the charter airlines must have been pulling their hair out. What is more - the airlines and the CAA knew that BA wasn't going to be a state airline for much longer - it was being privatised, so who's interests was it in to protect BA? You know, airlines don't just throw a dart at a map and say 'let's fly there' - they had worked out what was viable, and what the demands of the public could be. If another airline was already flying there, perhaps the new airline might offer cheaper fares and then the existing carrier has to lower theirs, or withdraw - that is competition. That would only benefit the public. In the mid-eighties Time Shares were beginning to really take off. Seat only on charter flights were increasingly needed, so was more capacity on scheduled services. These flights might have actually worked for more than one airline. They would have more chance than Cardiff to Stavanger!'

A weekly scheduled service was opened between Manchester and Montpelier with flights commencing in July. The flights would be carried out using BAC 1-11 aircraft. The Gatwick-Innsbruck service was given the green-light and flights would start in December.
The Inverness-Manchester-Heathrow route was finally closed in September when Dan-Air withdrew the route from the 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 2022 - It must surely come across as strange that government departments were responsible for determining the price of an air ticket. The CAA had recently refused the independents requests for a few pounds increase on the grounds that "They were already making enough money on the routes." It seems almost alien to anyone who wasn't around at the time, to believe that the Civil Aviation Authority deemed it necessary to decide whether a company was making enough money or not. Imagine that being the case with Amazon or Google today!

The Manchester Airport disaster in August involving a British Airtours Boeing led to criticism about emergency chutes on aircraft. The press wrongly claimed that BAC 1-11s were still fitted with ropes to slide down in an emergency evacuation. Diane Humpage of Dan-Air was angered enough to write in to the Manchester Evening News to say that Dan-Air's BAC 1-11s had been fitted with more modern inflatable chutes. Stephen James Chandrell acknowledged Diane's rebuff but stated that British Airways were still using what it called 'old fashioned ropes on 1-11s and why the CAA passed such a dreadful means of evacuation.'

The launch of the Newcastle-Amsterdam service in November came as a result of British Caledonian withdrawing from the route. The fact that BCal had now withdrawn from another domestic route that they had operated for a long time was noted. It was felt that BCal were not performing anywhere near as well as they had in recent years. The CAA awarded both Air UK and Dan-Air the licence. KLM, The Dutch Airline was also well established on the service, having operated Glasgow-Newcastle-Amsterdam for some time. KLM claimed they were not in competition with the other airlines as they only operated it to get people to Amsterdam to connect to long haul onward flights. Where the two British carriers were aiming at point to point passengers.

The challenge of taking on Air UK was something Dan-Air were more than prepared for. Dan-Air had secured the first departure slot from Newcastle at 6:45 a.m fifteen minutes earlier than Air UK's departure time. Air UK's flight departed from Glasgow before landing at Newcastle to pick further passengers up before flying to Amsterdam. Air UK's service commenced operations on a small Fokker F28 jet until the time Dan-Air commenced the service. From then on Air UK would replace the jet with a Fokker F27 turboprop aircraft. Dan-Air would be using the Brand new BAe 146 on the service. Dan-Air had also secured the latest arrival time back at Newcastle, giving businessmen a full day in the Dutch city.
Finally, hot meals would be provided on all Dan-Air services. Local press decided to review each operator. Air UK's launch service carried just 30 passengers, and although the carrier scored highly with service, the return flight was delayed for an hour and then cancelled because of a leak in one of the engines. Return passengers were booked onto the Dan-Air and KLM flights (KLM had refused to take part in the review) Meanwhile the Dan-Air flight had only 10 of its 88 seats empty. The tasty breakfast comprised of grapefruit, served with a hot omelette, sausage,mushroom, tomatoes a roll and jam, orange juice and tea or coffee. The return flight had a complementary bar. The reviewer was impressed with service and praised Dan-Air for using metal cutlery and even serving milk from a jug! The meal, he said, was the best packaged breakfast he had ever had on board an aircraft. Air UK announced they intended to use a BAC 1-11 jet on the service as soon as possible. Dan-Air had the lowest APEX fare at just £83 return, £10 cheaper than Air UK.

In the early 1970s, 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. British Caledonian operated many impressive scheduled service routes, their most profitable being that of London Gatwick to Buenos Aires, with the right to pick up passengers at Madrid.  The Buenos Aires route was cancelled in 1982 following the Falklands War. In 1984 the UK Government had almost completed their privatisation plans for British Airways. The newly invigorated British Airways, with a new board of directors, an enhanced fleet and a staggering 83% of all UK scheduled airline passengers, would pose a significant threat both to Dan-Air and British Caledonian. BCal carried a mere 12% of UK scheduled service passengers and were well aware that British Airways had a disproportionate share of routes flown. BCal wanted the Government to allocate several of BA's routes directly to them, including BA's profitable Saudi Arabian services. Moreover BCal felt they had a right to take over BA's services to Abu Dhabi, Kuwait, Harare, Islamabad, Kolkata, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Tokyo, Seoul and Beijing.
In what was seen by many as an arrogant demand, BCal also proposed the transfer of BA's short-/medium-haul routes from Heathrow to Vienna, Helsinki, Athens, Istanbul, Malta and Larnaca, which BCal wanted to serve from Gatwick, The airline furthermore proposed to take over BA's services from Gatwick to the Iberian peninsula and that airline's services from Gatwick to the Caribbean.  British Airways dismissed the demands in a stroke. Meanwhile, BCal lobbied the Government to find a solution to the impasse. It is fair to say that the independent airlines would struggle to compete with BA. It was suggested that British Caledonian and Dan-Air might take some of the routes and operate them from Heathrow. Caledonian wished to remain at Gatwick. The least preferred option was for merger of BCal and British Airways. British Airways' new chairman, Lord King offered £200 million to buy BCal's assets, which British Caledonian said was a 'smash and grab raid'
The huge mess created by the Government and British Airways came to a head in 1984, when eight UK independent airlines made a joint proposal to reduce BA's share of the scheduled services market to 60% (from 83%). This would increase the independent carriers share to 40%. The Government produced a white paper on the matter and the CAA agreed with the some of the consortium of independent airlines airlines requests.  The CAA produced a report called the CAP50 that suggested all long haul trunk route flights out of Gatwick be operated by British Caledonian with British Airways being the dominant airline out of Heathrow. They also suggested that BCal take over the Saudi and Caribbean services. In the event, the Government decided not to implement all the recommendations of the CAP50, instead, they proposed giving BCal the Saudi Arabian routes to Dhahran and Jeddah and a new route to the Saudi capital Riyadh.
The route transfer on which BCal had agreed with BA and the Government took effect at the start of the 1985 summer timetable period.  BCal commenced scheduled operations from Gatwick to Dhahran and Jeddah, replacing the BA service from Heathrow. At the same time, BCal relinquished its traffic rights to Recife, Salvador, Rio, São Paulo, San Juan, Caracas and Bogotá. British Airways acquired these traffic rights and began serving most of these destinations from Heathrow. BCal made record profits in 1985.
Gatwick Airport had by now become very busy. The Government rejected plans for a second runway and with breath-taking arrogance, British Caledonian called for all charter flights that operated out of Gatwick to be relocated to Stansted. The Government, for their part, agreed to meet BCal half way and said that all scheduled flights from Gatwick would have preference to charter services in all future slot allocations at the airport.
Dan-Air's route planning team had to work hard to find ways to increase their own scheduled network without taking any huge risks. Simply because profit margins in the airline world are notoriously small. The prospect of deregulation was on the horizon, and airlines like Dan-Air were not looking forward to a 'free for all'. But the idea of challenging other carriers on a route by route basis would, Dan-Air hoped, mean a more level playing field.
One source told this website creator
"Oh of course the CAA were heavily in favour of British Airways. I think that they just did not understand what we did. They saw us as a little 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 to scheduled services when you are on board.  If we were carrying more than five million people a year we must have known what we were doing. By the 1980s 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 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 we did on their aircraft by giving us a BAC 1-11 because they had no money! I guess that might have narrowed it down a bit as to who I am referring to!! But in all honesty, we had some decent aircraft and our staff were exceptional. By the mid eighties we were as good as anything European, far better than a lot. You know, the CAA awarded licences by way of bi-lateral arrangements with some Eastern Bloc airlines and let them fly into the UK. Some of those aircraft were death traps with metal visible through the tyres! We were gold standard compared to them....! We were in a decent position financially, and we were very well run, with an excellent management structure, but such is life I'm afraid."

Two Boeing 727 100s left the fleet in 1985 to be replaced by one Boeing 737 and a BAe 146 bringing their total to eight and four respectively. More Boeing 737 were added to the fleet, including the new 300 series - the fleet of that type now numbered eight. Eleven Boeing 727 including four of the 200 series worked on the charter fleet. Twenty BAC 1-11 in four variations were employed on charter and scheduled operations. The HS 748 fleet was reduced to fourteen examples. The oil support flights had seen a further downturn in numbers, resulting in a reduction of the HS-748 fleet further still.

1985 was also a milestone in terms of passenger numbers with more than a million passengers carried, for the first time, on Dan-Air Scheduled Services. Altogether, 5,007,000 people flew with the company in 1985. For a British independent airline to carry more than five million passengers was unprecedented. Making the company second only to British Airways in terms of passengers carried. It was half a million more passengers than Britannia Airways, who claimed to be the largest charter airline in the World. In fact, Dan-Air carried more charter passengers than any other UK airline in 1985, and for many years afterwards. British Caledonian lagged way behind Dan-Air in terms of passengers carried on either scheduled or charter services.

Capt Lynn Barton gained command on the BAe 146 being the first female Captain of the type in the world. Although the company had still failed to recruit male cabin crew, Dan-Air had an impressive record with female flight deck crews. Lynn was one of four female pilots who were employed at the time. The airline had employed several more women in the flight deck.
Following changes in Government rules and the EEC concerning regulation of air routes, making it easier to obtain licences. This resulted in Dan-Air submitting further applications for licences to fly from 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 for the first time 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 finally giving more routes to them.

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.


Dan Air carried 5,309,000 passengers in 1986 -  increase of several thousand from the previous year. The network of scheduled services was steadily 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 licensing 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 eighty million passengers by 1995 and 100 million by 2000."
In Inverness both the Highlands Council and the Inverness Airport Consultative Council contact Secretary of State Nick Ridley to urge him not to divert the Inverness-Heathrow service. Dan-Air had worked hard to make the route a success since 1983. British Airways had carried 55,000 passengers in their final year of operation on the route. Dan-Air had increased the number to 102,000. This was a combination of excellent service, flight timings and the use of Heathrow as the preferred terminal. The Inverness-Heathrow service had indeed gone from strength to strength, and by January 24th the route carried its 200,000th passenger.
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 to be the ones to suffer?  That was exactly what I said to you before. they didn't understand Dan-Air and I think they thought charter flights were second class. British Caledonian, who let's face it, were a relatively small airline, when compared to BA, were demanding all sorts of things and the Government were listening. We had a bigger fleet, and carried far more passengers, but that didn't seem to interest the Government. BCal's chairman, Adam Thompson was very proud of his airline, rightly so. It was a great carrier. Nonetheless, we had the impression that he looked down on us as second rate. He should have perhaps reflected on his own airline's history. When we were taking charter passengers on jet airliners to Spain, he was taking his across the Atlantic on post war piston engined DC6 relics.'

Aberdeen residents, specifically Dyce, close to the airport, had been complaining about noise from aircraft. This had led to restrictions on night flying. New noise restrictions that came into force on January 1st.  The biggest culprit was the Trident, operated by British Airways which had now been replaced with Boeing 737s. Dan-Air had agreed to retro-fit the BAC 1-11 fleet with 'hush kits'. This would enable them to continue to operate from Aberdeen.
Manchester airport was given a boost in late January when six new services were licensed to operate from the city. Dan-air had been successful with Amsterdam, Stockholm and Oslo. Although a tiny operator called Sucking Airways would also be permitted to fly to Amsterdam via Ipswich. Connectair would be permitted to fly to Rotterdam and Air Europe to Gibraltar. The routes each came with a start up grant of £450,000 which was provided by British Airways. This start up pool came after the Government published a white paper about airline competition. The total amount was £7,000,000,and Manchester was to receive the largest share.

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.  The two airlines threw 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 exercise, that saw neither airline achieving dominance. 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. Dan-Air's presence at Newcastle was not entirely diminished, as the summer service to Jersey was very popular, as was the one from Leeds/Bradford. Dan-Air was keen to be part of the growth in Newcastle Airport. In March they could boast that Dan-Air flew to nine airports from the city, as well as a considerable charter programme.

Dan-Air was never an airline to boast loudly about their success. Instead, preferring to let the figures speak for themselves. Their reputation as a first rate regional carrier was fast gaining support from regular repeat passengers. Little touches were implemented, that were sure to keep the company fresh in passengers' minds. One extra touch, 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.
In January it was reported that Dan-Air were to be the subject of a full investigation by the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) regarding their failure to employ male cabin crew. A few men had worked as cabin crew. They carried out a similar role as stewardesses, but they were not called stewards instead they had the title 'loadmaster';  In January 1986 just one man was employed as loadmaster, Russell Smith carried out his duties on the oil related charter flights.
A separate man complained to the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) after applying for a job as a male cabin crew member. He was told that Dan-Air only employed female cabin crew.

The EOC's Helen Holden reported;
'We received a complaint asking us if we knew that the airline was operating a sexist recruitment policy. We investigated it and the company confirmed it was their policy and that they were not prepared to change it. They say 'people prefer to be served by a woman.' The complaint came from a man, and the EOC then launched a formal investigation into the airline. This was only the ninth time in the EOC's history that this had happened. For their part, Dan-Air said they would fully co operate with the EOC but were refusing to make a further comment until the investigation was completed.'

Dan-Air found itself in hot water in February when a cargo flight carrying four tonnes of radioactive nuclear fuel from Liverpool to Dounreay flew over Aberdeen city. The aircraft was supposed to only fly in controlled airspace over the country side. Air Traffic Controllers had not been guiding the aircraft, as it was claimed to be flying at over 40,000 feet. Air Traffic Controllers had been in contact at take off without knowing what the aircraft's cargo was. The United Kingdom Atomic Energy Agency said they moved the fuel ten to twelve times a year and that Dan-Air had been carrying out the flights for four years. Local MP Bob Hughes said he was trying to find out the exact route of the flight, reported to be a HS-748. The Secretary of State Nick Ridley told him that the aircraft had never flown in Dyce airspace, despite reports claiming that the aircraft had flown directly over Aberdeen.

The success of the Belfast-Gatwick service was quite unexpected. after two years of operation 200,000 passengers were carried which was the total anticipated for a three year period. Dan-Air managed a 12% share of all Belfast - London passengers. The Dublin-Gatwick service had operated six return flights a week, from March this year a further three return flights a week would be added. Return fares would be from £99.

March saw a new service from Manchester to Amsterdam introduced with daily flights to the Dutch city. As an introductory offer, passengers who booked an APEX ticket could enjoy the return fare for just £77. The Aberdeen-Gatwick service was reduced. 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.
A blueprint for the restriction of domestic flights into heavily congested Heathrow emerged in late March. It detailed a possible end for two services into the capital, those of Dundee and Inverness. Looking further ahead it could also spell restrictions on the number of flights from regional airports with the exception of Glasgow, Edinburgh and Belfast. The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) had been reviewing the future of UK aviation at the Government's request. It was reported that Heathrow was already congested and that something would have to be done. The CAA recommended that in future, small aircraft and cargo flights should not have access to the airport. There would also be a ban on any new domestic flights. The CAA did not envisage much opposition with the move. However, the third stage was to phase out services with limited inter lining. In other words, flights that did have many passengers joining international flights at Heathrow. This move certainly caused a stir at Dan-Air. Top of the CAA hit list was Euroair's Dundee-Carlisle-Heathrow service and Dan-Air's Inverness-Heathrow flights. Other flights earmarked were those from Plymouth, Newquay, The Isle Of Man, Guernsey and Jersey. The CAA said that they had been analysing the flights for two years and these flights were mainly those simply wanting to fly into London. The CAA claimed that if those flights were diverted into Gatwick or Stanstead, then there would be 10,000 slots opened up for lucrative international flights. The CAA defended their recommendations saying that international air service agreements demand opportunities for international airlines to fly into Heathrow, and there was increasing demand for more international flights into the airport. The CAA said they might also have to 'frequency cap' some of the international services as well. The blueprint would next go to airlines and the Government for consideration. Dan-Air's scheduled services manager, John Jones said;
'We are greatly concerned at the prospect of being forced to switch our flights to say, Stansted, as this would deny our passengers from the Inverness area the right to connect to international and intercontinental flights.'

One of our regular contributors said;
'It was the same old story - if it wasn't the CAA kicking us in the guts then it was the Government with regulations. When I saw this so called 'blueprint' I contacted the CAA and said to them 'So you have discovered that a flight between two cities is full of people wanting to go from place A to place B - And that took you two years! What in God's name is wrong with that? We had obtained a loss making service from British Airways and developed it into a blue riband trunk route that was carrying a great number of people. It helped Dan-Air make a profit and created jobs. What's more, Dan-Air paid for the landing slots at the going rate and the fuel. We had earned the right to use that airport and to fly to wherever we were licensed. This blueprint ignored the fact that our flights carried mainly businessmen who had work to carry out in the capital city. They needed to go there, do their work and go home in the evening. How dare the CAA tell the Government, or our passengers that they would have to fly into another airport, a great deal further away from the city. How dare they.'

Since 1984 the oil support charters had seen a huge drop in numbers, with all airlines carrying out the flights seeing similar reductions. British Air Ferries had secured a £3 million deal with Shell to take over from Alidair. Shortly after this Alidair went bankrupt.

In March it was announced that Dan-Air was going wide bodied. The airline had acquired an ex Hapag Lloyd A300 B4 100 series twin-jet, capable of carrying 336 passengers. The aircraft would serve the busy Spanish and Portuguese resorts, as well as the Canary Islands.With twin aisles, and lower operating costs, the aircraft enabled Dan-Air to compete with Britannia's 767.The aircraft began operating in a hybrid colour scheme before being repainted in the Dan-Air livery. The aircraft was delivered on 29th March. A former cabin crew member told us;

'I was selected for training on the new type which was very exciting. I had been on the 727 and 1-11 until then. This aircraft was enormous compared to them. It was very modern too, although Hapag Lloyd's seats were vile. They were orange and blue with these big flowers on. The tray tables were a yucky brown. When they eventually were re-fitted to our own style they looked fantastic. There were lots of things that I had never done before, like having two aisles and to doors were really easy compared to the really heavy ones on the 727. It made me feel like we were really competing with the other airlines. We joked that it wasn't new - of course it wasn't! But it was new to us and I loved it.'

In April this year the Cardiff - Dublin service was dropped as a result of poor sales. A company spokesman said 'Unfortunately the financial performance from Cardiff was not acceptable. We are very disappointed but feel that we couldn't carry on this summer.'

From its very beginning, Air Europe had been critical of what it perceived as Dan-Air's undercutting, opportunistic risks taken style. They correctly saw that Dan-Air had become highly diversified carrier, but Cossey and O'Regan knew that many of thier sectors never turned a profit. This weakness, they felt, overwhelmed the Dan-Air management with activities that were seeing a negative return on investment. Dan-Air justified their diversification strategy by its low marginal cost as aircraft and crews were already available. For many years for Dan-Air, each aircraft type represented a 'cost centre line' that was financially accountable for itself.
A typical example of Dan-Air's opportunistic diversification into activities was its long-term commitment to start a comprehensive network of regional scheduled services linking secondary airports across Europe, many of which operated on a seasonal basis only. This took up massive resources – financial and managerial. Cossey and O'Regan therefore honed in on low-risk activities, specifically, a few, but core activities. These being Short-/medium-haul charter flights, long-haul charter flights and finally, scheduled services serving markets where half of the available capacity could be profitably filled with Intasun customers. Intasun, the second largest Tour Operator in the country at the time, were beginning to show a reluctance to charter Dan-Air aircraft. The company had now entered scheduled services in Europe. As a display of their intention to show how professional they were, Air Europe started a business section in their aircraft on scheduled routes. Premier Class offered passengers improved catering, better leg-room, free bar, china crockery, glassware and stainless steel cutlery. the aircraft also had audio and video in-flight entertainment.

British Caledonian had been riding on a wave of good fortune for quite some time. BCal had been seen by the Government as the preferred independent in British aviation for many years, and to some extent was treated exceptionally well by authorities. That is not to say that the company wasn't deserving of this. The airline was a credit to the industry. However, four events in 1986 changed the company forever. The airline had formed a charter division - British Caledonian Charter - which later became Cal Air. The three DC10s of Cal Air did not have the impact on the charter scene that BCal had hoped for, despite its large aircraft flying to high density Spanish destinations and to far away places such as the USA. Two further incidents had a huge impact on them, in April when the US bombed Libya in reprisal attacks, and in Chernobyl, Ukraine, a nuclear reactor suffered the world's worst nuclear accident.  These events almost emptied the cabins of BCal's wide-bodied planes plying the transatlantic routes of Houston, Dallas/Fort Worth, Atlanta, New York JFK and Los Angeles because of a sudden surge in cancellations. Especially from passengers based in the US. Many of BCal's American passengers cancelled or postponed their trips at that time because they feared retaliatory attacks by Libyan secret service agents.  Secondly, they did not want to risk exposing themselves to the radioactive fallout from the Ukrainian nuclear catastrophe while conducting their business or spending their holidays in Europe. At the time, BCal's transatlantic scheduled services accounted for a quarter of the airline's worldwide revenues, and 37% of its passenger traffic. The Libyan bombings also dashed any hopes BCal had to resume operations on its profitable Gatwick—Tripoli route later that year, resulting in a further loss of expected revenues and profits.
What followed is a text book statement as to how close any airline is away from failure, with  profit margins so notoriously low.
Suddenly, the Nigerian currency was devalued. The adverse impact of this on BCal's earnings from passenger and freight bookings originating in Nigeria was devastating.  Revenue paid for in the local currency, which the Nigerian government of the day then prevented from being repatriated to the UK. These combined forces turned BCal's record breaking profits the previous year, into a loss of £14 million. Next came the shattering news that BCal had lost the licence for their helicopter shuttle between Gatwick and Heathrow following the opening of the M25 orbital ring road. Altogether, British Caledonian suffered losses of £80 million. A thousand people would be made redundant and significant asset selling became a priority. Two relatively young DC10s were sold and the entire BAC 1-11 fleet was sold to British Aerospace only to be immediately leased back. One BAC 1-11 had been given to Dan-Air as payment for engineering work carried out.

Our contributors says;
'The thing is, and I would get a roasting for saying this, I believe that Caledonian thought they were something special. They always behaved like every other carrier was inferior. What people didn't see was what went on behind the scenes. So, they had made a holy stink saying that charter flights should get out of Gatwick because it was busy and should only operate scheduled flights - they almost got their own way with that - then they go on to rubbish charter flights - then they start a charter airline - then - when they are down on their uppers, because they lose a ton of scheduled passengers - B Cal itself comes back to the charter scene and start throwing their weight around there, wanting to operate charters out of Gatwick! It was as if they were saying - you guys might have been in the charter business forever, but you are amateurs and should be doing it this way. To be honest I was not a fan of the management of their airline. On top of all this, they were force feeding the world about how fantastic they were, and how crap everyone else was, and yet, we kept on posting profits year in year out. In our darkest times in the nineties - we never came close to losing the amount they lost!'

In May new uniforms were debuted. Several cabin crew have told me how much they hated the hat! The general feeling was that the 1978-86 uniform was a favourite with the 75-78 a close second. Although Aberdeen and Inverness girls didn't like the hat - as the prevailing winds in the Shetlands often saw Dan-Air girls scurrying across the tarmac to retrieve it. The bowler style has was admired though. The 1978 dress and blouse was derided because of its tendency to run when washed. But this was changed over the next few years and many did not want to lose the uniform. The cornflower blue remained, and this was the look that Dan-Air carried until its closure. Although the last incarnation saw the hat shelved altogether. Many people said that this new hat was old fashioned and floppy. Gone too was the neckerchief which was widely admired. The new uniform could be worn with a skirt or trousers. The coat that accompanied it was also widely criticised for its outsize design. The designers, House of Mansfield, noticed that in the six intervening years, since the last uniform was styled that the ladies of Dan-Air had also changed shape. Previously the most common figure was 36-24-36 and now they measured 36-24-38. Dan-Air also debuted a new slogan to go with its advertisements - 'We're Going Places' in May, which co-coincided with the launch of the new Dan-Air cabin crew uniform.  Dan-Air told journalists 'We can't understand it - It's not because our girls haven't developed in this area because they have been sitting on the job.' The new uniform would also allow for the girls to wear longer hair and jewellery. The spokesman continued; 'We're expanding'. No doubt the ladies were pleased at the changes. A male uniform would have to be selected for very soon in the future.

There was drama five miles high over Rome in June when a Dan-Air Captain flying a Boeing 737 with 130 passengers aboard from Manchester to the greek island of Zakinthos radioed to say that he had seen a British Airtours Boeing 737 half a mile in front of him and only 500 feet difference in altitude. Italian AirTraffic controllers immediately told him to turn away. A British Airtours spokeswoman said that their Boeing 737 also carrying 130 passengers from Naples to Gatwick had been travelling in the opposite direction. The Dan-Air captain had been climbing to 31,000 feet when he was suddenly told to level out at 28,000 feet, but by that time he was already 1,000 feet higher. It was then that he saw the other aircraft. Dan-Air said that they had reported the incident to Italian authorities.

Dan-Air were furious in December when British Caledonian were 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 now 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. Goodman wanted BCal's European routes and the slots at Gatwick. By now, his company (Air Europe) had started to operate scheduled flights. The CAA baulked at the idea of ILG buying BCal.
At the same time, Britannia, Monarch and Orion had all launched scheduled services to sunshine destinations such as Alicante and Palma. The semi deregulation of flights in the EU zone had brought large increases in the number of flights taking off and landing throughout Europe. 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 at all. Mrs.Thatcher's UK government gave them both approval, so the routes went ahead. Meanwhile the CAA recommendations from earlier this year reached their conclusion. Because Heathrow was so busy, the CAA decided to move some routes from the main London airport to Gatwick or Stansted, as they had threatened to do.  For domestic flights, the criteria was to be the number of interline passengers the route had. So, for instance, 80% of Birmingham-Heathrow passengers went on to catch another flight immediately. In the case of Dan-Air's Inverness route, 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 airline would have no redress other than to appeal directly to the Secretary of State.

Ryanair, who, back then, was a tiny carrier with a handful of aircraft and licences,  started something of a price war on the Dublin - London route. They began offering 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 offering seats for £74 return. This was all done before the Irish Authorities had actually given approval. Ultimately, the Irish Aviation Authority 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 they could prove they could carry out what they were already operating! Ryanair had 94% load factors on their HS-748 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 thus entered the price war offering crossings for £79 including rail connections.
The madness of the situation of the Irish Aviation Authority extended to what aircraft a carrier operated. Ryanair had been using HS-748 and wished to operated BAC 1-11 jets to give them an equal footing with Dan-Air, British Airways and Aer Lingus. . Ryanair leased three of the six year aircraft from Romanian State airline Tarom for an undisclosed sum. They had been built in Romania under licence from British Aerospace. Ryanair were denied the right to use them until the IAA approved, in the meantime they would continue using HS-748.
The air fare war included what passengers were given whilst on their flight. Ryanair offered a free tea and coffee and  free newspaper and a paid for bar. British Airways and Aer Lingus gave free tea and coffee. Dan-air were by far the best with free hot meals, free tea and coffee, and a free bar for all passengers, even the ones who had only pad £74.

A Dan-Air BAC 1-11 was taxiing to the runway at Manchester when leaking fuel from a fire engine set ablaze and was heading towards the airliner. The aircraft with 109 passengers aboard was evacuated. Passengers were taken to safety while the fire was put out and the area cleared. The jet took off an hour later.

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 of 1986 and summer of 1987. Two of the aircraft were to be based at Manchester and one in Birmingham operating for subsidiary company,  for Carousel Holidays.
There was no doubt that the BAC 1-11 suited Dan-Air's operation. The problem was that so many of them were quite old, newer aircraft were much more cost effective with fuel saving efficiencies. The BAe 146 used a third less fuel than the 1-11. In an ideal world, the 1-11 fleet would have been dropped and replaced with 146s. The process of obtaining new aircraft was slow. Even manufacturing giants like Airbus and Boeing didn't turn out a new 737 every day. It was often months from ordering an aircraft to it joining a fleet. When an airline ordered, say four aircraft, each one would arrive weeks after the previous one.

Everywoman Magazine accused airlines of employing women who were recruited for their looks rather than their skills or common sense. The magazine said that airline cabins were full of inexperienced people who were retired at 28. Dan-Air hit back saying it was their policy to employ cabin crew until they were sixty and that 10% of their girls were over 35.
In September Dan-Air finally agreed that they would recruit both male and female cabin crew following the months long dispute with the Equal Opportunities Commission. Dan-Air claimed that the decision had nothing to do with the EOC's ruling stating 'Dan-Air has traditionally always employed female cabin crew, but we have taken a firm decision to employ people of either sex, provided the applicant meets the qualifications for the job.'
Along with other airlines, Dan-Air's oil charters continued to decline - The drop in this work saw a reduction in the number of HS-748 aircraft in the fleet.
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 HS-748 with it on more 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 McDonnell 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 more of Dan-Air's charter work, by offering Tour Operators the same sized aircraft as Dan-Air's 727s at a greatly reduced rate. One Boeing 727 was scheduled to be sold to an Irish consortium who had plans to form a charter carrier in the republic. This left ten in the charter fleet with seven of those the latest 200 series.  In 1986 Aer Lingus had the monopoly in providing charter aircraft for Irish Tour Operators. A second Airbus A300 was acquired for the following year's charter programme.
Almost five and a half million passengers flew on Dan-Air - they had come a long way in thirty three years, and were now, undisputed as the second largest UK airline.


  • Manchester-Amsterdam service started - March 31st
  • A300 G-BMNA start to enters service - May
  • Bristol-Amsterdam - Route cancelled after 8 years.
  • Luxor charter flights begin - May


The year got off to an impressive start. The Dublin price war was nearing its climax. Ryanair were now selling seats on their newly acquired 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. Latesaver fares from Dan-Air were available for just £69 return. The only stipulations was that tickets could only be bought after 1pm the day before travel. Tickets had to be purchased from a travel agent or a none airport based airline office, finally there was a minimum stay of one night.
The Airbus A300 was chartered for the winter season for a series of flights to the Canary Islands. The type was perfect for such high density flights. The A300 would be based at Gatwick but they would fly ad-hoc charters from other UK airports. The previous year's operation had been a huge success. This year the airport would be served with a Boeing 727 instead of the 737 in 1986. This was due to an increase in bookings requiring a much larger type. The 727 would have 69 more seats than its predecessor. As well as carrying out the same programme as 1986 with flights to Alicante, Palma, Girona, Faro and the Canary Islands, this year there would be flights to Almeria, Malta and Rhodes.

Airtours, the Manchester based travel agent had, over the years, gone from being a retail agent to a fully fledged Tour Operator, employing more than 200 people. Airtours had become the sixth largest Tour Operator in the UK and had secured a multi million pound charter contract with Dan-Air.  The consumer magazine 'which' had carried out a survey on Tour Operators and Airtours had come bottom out of forty companies. In total, 93 Airtours clients were surveyed and none would recommend the firm's travel or accommodation standards. Airtours said the survey was unrepresentative. One of our contributors who worked in the charter team says;

'I remember this happening and it was really unfair. If you looked at the price of a Thomson holiday, it reflected what you got. Good flight times, and if there was a delay, you would be looked after at the hotel, and fed and watered. There would be good food on the aircraft, nice air-conditioned coach to your hotel. The hotel itself would be of a good standard with a high standard of catering. The in-resort rep would be well trained and have all the tools needed to do the job well. That standard wasn't cheap you know. Now, take an Airtours holiday which I reckon would be about 30-40% cheaper. You would get fed a sandwich on a three hour flights. Coffee and biscuits on a flight to Alicante! So, straight away you have lost out. The hotels were not dumps by all accounts, but Thomsons had several 'Thomson Exclusive' hotels - where they would be only Tour Operator with guests in the hotel. They could call all the shots there and maintain a very high standard. Airtours just didn't have the same buying power or volume of guests to do that. I can't speak for them as far as hotels and reps go. But on the flights I can. Ok if you say a holiday with Thomsons and Airtours  to Benidorm costs £200 and you had Airtours standards then you could say Airtours was rubbish - because you got so much more with Thomsons for the same price. But you got a lot less with Airtours - and that was reflected in the price. It was unfair. Like comparing a fish and chip shop to Michelin star restaurant. They both feed you - but it's not the same. The cabin crew were really pee'd off about it. Because they were the ones handing out biscuits on flights. As I recall it got to be such a problem that they had it printed in the in-flight magazine saying something like 'Passengers are advised that the catering for scheduled services is provided by Dan-Air - The catering for charter flights it is as requested by your Tour Company - Which the crew could use to deflect any barbs.'

Which magazine carried substantial weight from their surveys, but as our previous contributor said - it is not fair to compare two different things. The publication released its list of favourite airlines. Wardair in Canada, Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific of Hong Kong were winners of the Golden Wings Meanwhile, Lead Balloons were awarded Aeroflot, Yugoslavia's Aviogenex, The UK's British Island Airways and Spain's Aviaco and Spantax. Here is the first inconsistency.The Golden Wings winners were all long-haul operators who had much larger aircraft with far more time to spare to give better service and catering. The Lead Balloon winners included two airlines that were operated in Communist Yugoslavia carrying out short-haul flights, as were the two Spanish airlines. British Island Airways had four small aircraft in their fleet so were as far away from Singapore Airlines as can be. British Caledonian scored best across the Atlantic followed by Virgin and British Airways. Those travelling on charter flights were happy with Britannia, Air Europe and Orion and not happy with Dan-Air, Balkan Bulgarian, JAT and Inex Adria of Yugoslavia, Olympic Airways of Greece and Spain's Iberia. As was mentioned previously. The aircraft in the majority of those carriers were exactly the same, with the same seating configuration. A Dan-Air flight chartered by Airtours who served only biscuits to passengers was always going to score badly against a Britannia 737 chartered by industry leader Thomsons who offered cooked meals. They did not compare like with like. Had they done so, they would need to have compared Dan-Air scheduled services and a charter flight with a similar product to Thomson.
The Aberdeen Air Fair in January and for the second year in succession, thirty under-privileged children were flown on a thirty minute pleasure flight. Altogether 4,500 attended the event. It came the same day that Dan-Air announced they had flown 5.3 million passengers in 1986.
Dan Air selected Smith Etcetera as their new advertising agency in January. The Widnes company said they had some fantastic ideas they wanted to show. 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. If one reads the 1985 timeline you might recall that Dan-Air had been investigated by the Equal Opportunities Commission following an investigation into the company about its policy of employing only female cabin crew. The EOC ruled that the airline must change its policy. Dan-Air went on to say that it had made a 'firm decision to employ people of either sex, provided the applicants meet the requirements of the job.' It later transpired that a male applicant had been planted by the EOC, and when his rejection letter told him the company policy was to employ only females the EOC were able to investigate further.  '
Following a fifteen month inquiry the report was published on 2nd February. It revealed that  on 15th October last year the EOC had ordered Dan-Air to change its policy on recruitment. The commission said that during the inquiry  Davies and Newman PLC said 'they would not be able to change their policy of excluding male cabin staff until the diagnosis and treatment of the disease came clearer.' The report revealed that the airline went to extraordinary lengths to avoid employing male cabin staff. Vacant posts were not advertised and males who phoned enquiring about jobs were discouraged from applying. Schools career sessions were only given to girls and completed applications forms were not processed. No male applicant was ever interviewed. When the commission ordered Dan-Air to employ male cabin crew immediately a spokesman said; 'From this point forward we employ cabin staff irrespective of sex, provided the applicant meets standards and qualifications for the job.' But it was only 2nd February 1987 that the management claim of the AIDS risk was made public. The spokesman went on; 'Dan-Air is an equal opportunities employer - In a statement on October 23rd last year - it introduced an equal opportunities policy throughout the company. This was before the non discriminatory notice was served by the Equal Opportunities Commission, and a firm policy decision was taken to employ cabin crew irrespective of sex.  It is well known throughout the industry that Dan-Air has always previous policy was to only employ female cabin crew. However, it was stated at the time that Dan-Air changed its policies and practices in the light of medical evidence that there is nothing in particular in the line of work as cabin crew which should give rise to the spread of AIDS. We are recruiting male cabin crew now and expect to take on about 20. we will end our old policy immediately We presently receive about 400 applications from females a month and approximately 40 from males.

Counsel for the company said that AIDS mainly affects homosexuals and that up to 30% of males attracted to cabin crew work were homosexuals. Counsel also alleged that cabin crew were generally sexually promiscuous and made the point that AIDS was generally transmitted through sexual intercourse. It was claimed that the disease could also be spread by blood and saliva and therefore there were risks if cabin crew cut themselves at work or if they were administering artificial resuscitation. The airline believed that in the circumstance its policy of discriminating against men was justified under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 which obliged employers to ensure the health, safety and welfare of employees and others. The commission consulted two AIDS experts, both provided written evidence to say that there was 'no medical evidence' to support the belief that AIDS could be transmitted by mouth to mouth resuscitation. Basic hygiene and commonsense were sufficient to prevent any contamination of food. The commission said that Dan-Air had agreed to comply with its order. The airline said their comments about cabin crew being 'promiscuous' had been over simplification resulting from summarising complicating evidence. 'Dan-Air has the highest regard for the personal and professional integrity of our cabin crew which we regard as second to none among British airlines.'

I have to give full disclosure here. I was interviewed for a cabin crew post roughly at this time. I had been an admirer of the company for many years and I did wish to fly. The fact that I have created this website twenty years after the airline ceased trading is testimony to my admiration of the company. The fact that I have continued doing in 2024 - thirty two years after the closure is pure devotion.
My disclosure comes because of the way I was interviewed, and some of the questions that were asked of me. It was a regrettable experience that tarnished entirely 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 memoirs, actually believed this so called 'defence'.
I believe it was bad judgement to continue with such a stance. Dan-Air's position was inexcusable. It was inaccurate and insulting - even to the female cabin crew they already employed. Perhaps worst of all - it was largely uninformed. The airline deserved to be called out on the matter, and made to change their policy.  Experts at the hearing said Dan-Air were wrong to assume that anyone was at risk as the disease was not spread by saliva, food or food handling. There had been early reports that it could have been. Very quickly it was established that it would take pints and pints of saliva to infect a person, and even then - the chances were almost impossible.
What was inexcusable was the apparent disregard of the difference between HIV and AIDS. To suggest that a person who had AIDS would be working is laughable. A person with HIV might have been working, as soon as the disease turned into AIDS it was highly unlikely. The Government had spent millions on educating the Nation and the LGBT community had pushed a major safe sex initiative that had been embraced by the gay community. By 1987 the most at risk groups of the country were sex workers, intravenous drug users and heterosexual men and women who were still refusing to practice safe sex.  In the 1980s HIV awareness was much less than it is now, but simple research, and discussion with relevant organisations would have provided Dan-Air all the answers that they would have needed.
It seems to me, that a lot of middle aged men in middle and senior management simply preferred female cabin crew. It may not be very 2020s to say that today - but at least it would have been an honest statement. In fact it was a politically incorrect back then! Dan-Air had never employed regular male cabin crew - long before AIDS had been around. What was the excuse for not having them from 1953-1987? They had always been around with BOAC and BEA......

After the publication, The Transport Trades Unions pulled no punches - carpeting 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 the full facts? It would appear not.
Dan-Air had  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 said many years later, in his book that the EOC had 'no experience in aircraft and galley conditions'. Really? All those years afterwards - he was still of the same opinion that AIDS could be spread in an aircraft galley during a working period. Did he believe that people were injecting drugs with shared needles and having unprotected sex in the galleys? Because the only way to pass on the disease then - and now, was through unprotected sex, blood, semon, and bodily fluids. None of which would be present in a galley. At least one hopes not! The virus is actually a weak virus and outside the body, those fluids quickly lose strength. In fact, simple hand washing would kill it from unbroken skin. Even if a crew member cut themselves - another crew member would have to cut themselves and the two sets of blood combine to have any chance of infection.

At the time, no women sat 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 did employ male cabin crew, known as 'load-masters'. These men 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. So, effectively, men could be cabin crew on flights where 'women couldn't do the job, in case they broke a nail.'
From every angle, looking back, at the distant 1980s, this could be looked upon as blatant sexism.  When Dan-Air were forced into employing male cabin crew; these men had to endure the indignity of an AIDS test - something that no potential employee should ever have to undergo. Even higher-risk occupations in medicine didn't make staff do this. 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 deprivation of privacy!
Incidentally Arthur Larkman, whilst acknowledging that male cabin crew served the airline well, went on to write that his opinion '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 some of Dan-Air's female pilots. One of those had 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 happened in the 1980s, and things were different then!! To have had that opinion back then, could perhaps be understood, even tolerated  HIV and AIDS was a new and frightening disease. To still have that opinion today, when medication (PREP) is available, is inexcusable. (A person who takes PREP cannot spread the disease, or catch it.)

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 stewardesses and Unions with fury. The Dan-Air Chairman, Fred Newman sent all stewardesses a bouquet of flowers and an apology letter. In an additional move the airline donated £5,000 to the Children's Trust charity which organised flights for disadvantaged children. (author's note - perhaps the money might have been better served if given to a women's charity and an AIDS charity)
The unique relationship that 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, male cabin crew became more visible.

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 peculiar 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 later told me that she loves gay men!!  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 day after the company lost at the 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 accommodation 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 weren't impressed with them either, and the girls felt the same way as us. We called them fossils and dinosaurs. One nameless 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 colleague replied 'He's not that desperate!!' That borders on arrogance don't you think? There I was, a fairly good looking young man, well turned out, and the Captain was this flabby, middle aged bloke who obviously thought gay men will go with any man. I told the First Officer my thoughts and he confided in me that he was bisexual! Actually, the First Officer was a bit of a hunk. We both laughed about the Captain's remarks. 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.'

Another said;
"Well, I had been applying for cabin crew jobs with loads of airlines. I knew that the competition was tough.  Thousands applied for perhaps a few hundred vacancies. When I saw Dan-Air's advertisements, I thought I was in with a good chance because they had just had their knuckles rapped for not employing men. The first interview was a bit intrusive, I had never had my sexuality questioned before at an airline interview. Anyhow, I took to the training like a duck to water. I was determined to be as good as I could be. My trainer said I was 'outstanding'. We became close, socially much later on. I told her that if men want to be served by dolly birds - a term I don't like - then what about all the women passengers we had? Didn't they deserve to be served by an attractive man? I know most male cabin staff are gay - so what!  I was good at what I did. I even did the 18-30 flights and enjoyed a bit of banter with the passengers. Stuffy men in the boardroom were not in the same bubble that we were in. But, at my time at Dan-Air I was hit on by two flight deck crew. One I rejected, saying 'Your wife will kill you, or I will' and the other, I am proud to say,  I accepted, and I am still with him today. I later went on, thanks in part to him, to pursue a career as a pilot myself. I am almost at the end of my flying career now, and I have Dan-Air to thank for giving me the opportunity to get the flying bug, and to my husband, who pushed me to believe in my ability. We both flew long haul for a long time. He retired a few years ago. The sad thing was that he never felt he could come out to his colleagues at Dan-Air. We had to keep our romance a secret. He believes to this day, that they would have got rid of him. It was the climate of the time to be hostile in general to gay people. I'm sure that  some, if not most, of his colleagues had an idea he was gay, because he was the age he was, and still single. I told a few of my hostie mates, and, no doubt they all blabbed anyway!! But, thankfully, I don't think it reached the personnel department or the boardroom.'

One former steward had a sad tale;
'I joined in 1990 and I am pleased to say after reading what people had said on this site, that things had changed at the interview stage. I was treated the same as everyone else as far as I can recall. The training course was tough, or shall I say thorough! It wasn't easy for me to store all that information - but I managed it. I was a party animal until that course started. But I wanted it so bad, that I stayed in at nights and studied. I got my wings and started flying. I wouldn't say I am massively effeminate, but it's fair to say that it's pretty obvious I am gay. Some of the flight deck crews were downright rude. There was a Scottish one - I absolutely detested him. He would say things like; 'If you were on the oil charters in Scotland, those lads would eat you alive. They'd tear you limb from limb.' He would make a point of saying that 'This is one of the boys that we now employ'  to a complete stranger and while he said it he would make his wrist go limp and say it with a camp voice. A number one once said to him that that was enough and your rank doesn't frighten me or stop me from reporting this. It's a shame that some of the Dan-Air pilots were so old. Many were ex-military and it showed. The younger ones were much nicer. I did meet some of the very senior management over the years, including Mr. Newman. He was very courteous and pleasant and said we had brought something new to the airline, and well done. Whether he meant it - I don't know. In the end, I left for Airtours when they started long-haul. It was difficult because I had made friends at Dan-Air. But Airtours was a much younger airline and their flight deck crews were younger too. It was, I have to say, a lot more relaxed and trendy. Dan-Air had dome great people - but in many ways they were very old school.'

Finally, a female cabin crew member said:
"I had been with British Caledonian for a year and I didn't enjoy the long haul flights, so  I applied for a job with Dan-Air. During the training, I made friends with a couple of the guys on my course. They were great lads, both gay. They have been my friends since, and all three of us are still flying. No airline could have been better served by anyone better than those two. Professional, hard working, kind and friendly. During training we discussed how different our interviews were. They never felt welcomed at that initial stage, but everyone at our level couldn't see any reason not to have men cabin staff. But it was the eighties and the same hostile attitude prevailed in the armed forces and with tradesmen. My brother was an electrician, and he was always so scathing about gay people. He met my friends and was so shocked at how good their company was. Thankfully, the country has changed its attitude to gay men.'

Dan-Air's recruitment drive for cabin crew in 1987 proudly boasted that 'Dan-Air is an equal opportunities employer'.

Two Gatwick workers got so drunk in the pub after a work-shift that they walked along the runway at Gatwick thinking it was the A23. One of them thought it was strange that there was no traffic on the road. It was only when they saw an aircraft taxiing towards them that they realised where they were. Barry Smith, 27 and Paul George Perry, 34 were fined £300 with £18 costs. Captain Anthony Perris had just landed a Dan-Air Boeing 727 and was taxiing towards the terminal when he saw the two men walking across the taxi way. He was forced to stop but there were no injuries to anyone one the plane. The two men were removed from the airport and it was discovered that they had entered the airport through a hole in the fence. Smith was dismissed from his job at the bonded stores. Both apologised for the trouble they had caused.

Dan-Air signed a three year deal with Aer Rianta at Shannon Airport for use as a training airport. Swissair and Air France were also committed to the deal said to be worth £5,000,000. After three years on the Belfast-Gatwick service Dan-Air were thrilled to have a 20% share on all Belfast-London flights. British Airways and British Midland also flew from the city to Heathrow.
In February Dan-Air along with British Island Airways and Airways International Cymru objected to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) over a new airline being established at Cardiff. Inter European Airways was set up with the help of a  grant from the Welsh Office. Owners of the airline, Aspro Holidays had a long established relationship with Dan-Air. Director of Airline  Operations Captain Robert Seed said that two Boeing 737 aircraft were to be delivered in time for the busy summer which would start in May. The CAA had given the airline permission to start, but they would need licences to operate charter flights from Cardiff to overseas destinations. This is what the airlines were objecting to.

Fashion designer Lilian Marshall chartered a Dan-Air Boeing 737 and had 30 seats removed for a flight over the North Sea where a special fashion show would take place at 30,000 feet. The one hundred passengers paid £40 each to see her new collection in what would be the most unique fashion show ever.

Late in 1986 Tour Operator Owners Abroad announced they would be launching their own in house airline the following year. In what was to become standard practice, several flight deck and cabin crew were poached from Dan-Air. With a spokesman saying 'It is bad enough that we have to have so much competition from airlines without them actively poaching our staff. The only consolation is that our standards of training are so highly regarded throughout the world.' The new airline started on April 11th and was called Air 2000. Errol Cossey, the ex-Dan-Air man, who left the company to start Air Europe had now left the company and would be CEO of the new airline. The carrier took to the air offering what they said was a new standard of charter in flight service. The airline would fly brand new Boeing 757 aircraft based at Manchester to twelve popular Mediterranean destinations.  The new carrier, in common with most new airlines, had the backing of a major Tour Operator, Owners Abroad. Air 2000 claimed all passengers would enjoy complimentary Bucks Fizz, a hot three course meal and hot towels on the flight. The airline claimed its service would be at a level never seen before on European charter flights. Owners Abroad had started as a Tour Operator in 1972 having been founded by a taxi driver, ice cream van owner and movie extra Neil Scott. The company was created after Neil had been working in travel agents for six years. His idea was to buy blocks of seats direct from airlines - most notably, Dan-Air. He would then sell the seats to owners of overseas accommodation and time share clients. In his first year he sold 400 tickets. By the mid 1970s Owners Abroad could boast serving twelve destinations with flights from Manchester, Gatwick, Tees Side, Luton, Newcastle and Birmingham and East Midlands. Owners Abroad then commenced selling the blocks of tickets he had purchased direct to Tour Operators who needed extra seats, without the expense of chartering a full aircraft. By 1980 Owners Abroad flew to 18 destinations.
In 1977 Owners Abroad had sales of £3 million and just five years later this had increased to £24 million. Profits had zoomed from £37,000 in 1977 to £1,250,000 in 1982. The company sold 310,000 tickets in 1981 just 75,000 of them to those who owned overseas accommodation. Neil was a millionaire by the time he was forty. At the time of the Stock Exchange flotation in 1982, shares were offered at just 10 pence each. The tag on his own investment was £1,800,000. Within three days the shares stood at 15 pence, by March the value of each share had risen to 24 pence. After just one year the company made a profit of £2.5 million. By 1983 Owners Abroad extended their reach by offering time share properties of their own. In 1985 Owners Abroad bought out ailing Tour Operator Arrowsmith Holidays for £1, thus giving them access to thousands of Hotel holidays. At this time, Owners Abroad bought Bena Holidays - a golf holidays specialist. For the first time Owners Abroad would sell package holidays. This was a winning situation for Dan-Air. Owners Abroad did not have their own airline and chose Dan-Air as their main airline. By 1986 Owners Abroad had become Britain's sixth biggest Tour Operator. When the news broke in May 1986 that the company was starting an airline Dan-Air would have felt anxious. More so when Inter European Airways commenced charter operation in May. Those two, small start up carriers comprising of four aircraft could account for a potential 20% of Dan-Air's charter fleet.

One contributor said;
'The airline industry is definitely exciting, but it is can sometimes mean you are on a fairground ride. When Caledonian went off the scene, there was the good news that we had been successful in gaining some of their routes. So there is a high period.  Knowing your scheduled services are going to bring in new revenue. Scheduled services can make good profits and had, at that time, better margins. Then there is the swing backwards - a new airline comes along and it's backed by a Tour Operator - so that is going to eat into your charter business. 1987 was particularly tough. Inter European Airways and Air 200. Air UK Leisure was going to start up the following year. Every new airline seemed to start off with two aircraft. That would mean two Dan-Air aircraft that Tour Operators wouldn't need. Because they always had a Tour Operator that backed them. It made everything a challenge. We always managed to get the business, but from now on it seemed to be with smaller firms. Thankfully more and more people were travelling abroad than ever before. So that was a help!'
The spring campaign on the Dublin-Gatwick route saw the airline offering passengers free train travel to central London and two nights accommodation 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 a meal, free drinks and bar with Dan-Air. 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 they had carried a record 5,300,000 passengers in 1986, up 300,000 on the previous year.

The end of year financial results saw Dan-Air profits soar six-fold to the tune of £6,600,000. Last year the airline had made a profit of £1,000,000.
A new contract was signed with Kuoni Holidays for flights to be flown to Luxor in Summer on the airline's newly ordered Boeing 737 400. The company would then use the Boeing 727 for Winter flights to Egyptian hot-spot. Another upmarket Tour Operator to join the list of Dan-Air Tour Operators was Hayes and Jarvis.
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!
In May Virgin Atlantic applied for a licence to operate flights from Luton-Dublin using Viscount aircraft. The proposed fare would be a flat £50 one way. The airline hoped to feed passengers on its American flights from Gatwick. The CAA would hear the proposal. It was not clear at that stage why Luton was the preferred airport as Virgin flew out of Gatwick.

British Caledonian Airways had had a tough time since the late 1970s. The carrier was given a generous discount with an order for three A320 aircraft. They would be the first UK airline to operate the A320, which operated at 27% less than the BAC 1-11. British Airways' use of Heathrow had given them a competitive advantage for years. Heathrow had 79% more international destinations than Gatwick. As a result Caledonian had asked the UK Government to transfer several routed directly to them from British Airways. The only other proposals were a merger with BA or for BCal to transfer into Heathrow. The Chernobyl nuclear accident and Libyan bombing had a significant impact on BCal's business. In 1986 the airline made a loss of £80 million. As a result the airline embarked up a huge asset disposal programme resulting in the sale of two relatively young DC 10 aircraft and the sale of the entire BAC 1-11 fleet to British Aerospace. These were then immediately leased back. Then came the selling off of British Caledonian Helicopters, Caledonian Hotels and Caledonian Airmotive.
By July 1987, British Caledonian (BCal) had already exhausted most of the proceeds from the asset disposal programme. The proceeds from the sale of two DC-10s to Continental Airlines was all that was left to keep the airline in business. Senior management realised that the company was unlikely to survive on its own and that it needed to act fast if it wanted to avoid BCal's collapse. BCal's dilemma can be summed up as follows: The airline had become a mid-sized airline that was too big to be a specialist, niche operator. Yet it was too small to effectively compete with BA and the US giants. At the same time, BCal was unable to match the significantly lower costs of emerging, aggressively expanding airlines.  BCal's precarious financial position made it obvious for most of its rivals and seasoned industry observers that the ailing airline lacked the financial strength to survive on its own for much longer. BCal had valuable traffic rights to operate scheduled services on a number of lucrative, long-haul routes to parts of the world that were not served by any other British airline at that time. It therefore became a desirable takeover target and a bidding war ensued between several potential suitors. The chief protagonists in this takeover battle were BCal's arch rival BA as well as ILG/Air Europe and SAS. For its part, Dan-Air was not interested in breaking into the long haul market, but several of the Gatwick slots to European capitals were being eyed up. More to the point, Dan-Air knew that British Airways (BA) would no longer be given the most favoured position that it had previously enjoyed with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). It was felt within the board, that should BCal go under, the routes would be shared out between several airlines. Dan-Air's worry was that a much larger carrier, including BA, would take over BCal and with it, all the route network. This was something Dan-Air would most strongly resist.
On 16 July 1987, Sir Adam Thomson and Lord King, chairmen of British Caledonian Group and British Airways respectively, announced at a press conference the intention of BA to acquire the BCal in an agreed £237 million bid. Officially this was presented as a "merger between equals" but within the industry it was widely acknowledged as a rescue deal to avoid the collapse of BCal. In addition, BA, was keen to get hold of BCal's assets. These included BCal's lucrative traffic rights to cities BA did not serve itself as a result of the now defunct "Second Force" policy. BA also saw this as a necessary move to fill the gaps in its global route map to acquire routes that would permit it to compete against the giant US carriers on a level-playing field. BCal's financial difficulties furthermore presented an opportunity for BA to forestall any competitive threat a revitalised BCal could pose to it in future. It therefore wanted to get hold of these assets before any competitor could lay its hands on them.
Following Sir Adam's outright rejection of ILG chairman Harry Goodman's offer to purchase BCal's short-haul operation, the previous year, to merge BCal's operation with the short-haul operations of ILG owned Air Europe in return for not having the proposed BA-BCal deal referred to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission (MMC), ILG decided at the end of July 1987 to launch a counter bid for the entire British Caledonian Group. Air Europe, like Dan-Air were concerned that a new entity combining BA and BCal had the power to destroy the UK's remaining independent airlines, especially with regard to their ability to compete with such a giant.  At the time, Air Europe had ambitions of its own to become a major short-haul scheduled operator. Air Europe was planning to launch 11 new routes from Gatwick to Europe, many of them competing with the services BCal had provided. Given a combined BA-BCal's superior financial strength, considerably lower borrowing costs and far greater economies of scale, Air Europe's management felt that it would be imprudent to launch these new routes if it had to compete with BA out of Heathrow and Gatwick as well. Therefore, its parent ILG had decided to make a counter bid, which it hoped would either kill off BA's proposal to take over BCal lock, stock and barrel or result in it being referred to the MMC.
To enhance its credibility as a serious contender, Air Europe's bid contained a detailed proposal to return BCal to profitability by way of a reorganisation. This proposal had been prepared by a retired BA head of route planning whom ILG had specifically hired for this purpose. BCal would be split into four businesses, each of which with its own management accountable for the performance of that unit. The businesses would be a long-haul operation under the BCal brand, a short-haul operation merged with Air Europe's existing short-haul operation using the BCal brand on business routes and the Air Europe brand in leisure markets, and an engineering and a ground handling unit. Scandinavian Airline, SAS, was also prepared to offer £110 million for 26% of the British Caledonian Group's stock, valuing the entire group at £400 million. The SAS group were well aware that so-called "nationality clauses" in most bilateral air services agreements would restrict SAS's direct involvement in BCal's finances to acquiring a minority stake in its holding company.

SAS faced a barrage of hostile propaganda and delaying tactics from BA that were designed to stall any third party's competing bid to acquire BCal for as long as possible and got a mixed response to its planned counter bid for BCal from various departments of the UK Government. To counter these negative sentiments, SAS's proposals also included a plan to offer Dan-Air the right to participate in its merger with BCal by merging their scheduled services division with the new airline's combined scheduled operation, thereby strengthening its position at Gatwick and the airport as a hub. The ILG deal would see BCal's short-haul operation have a fleet upgrade with brand-new aircraft, which would have resulted in replacing BCal's ageing BAC One-Eleven 500s with the new Boeing 737-300s Air Europe had on order. It would also have resulted in adopting the Air Europe short-haul in flight product. BCal's senior management rejected ILG's bid. BCal felt that both airlines' nature of operations and their business strategies were incompatible and that therefore there were nothing to be gained from combining BCal with what was in their opinion 'essentially a charter company'. Therefore, the search for a financially strong partner acquired a renewed sense of urgency.

A minor dispute arose in April, when, in a cost cutting move, Dan-Air planned to issue ground staff with second hand uniforms! Ground staff and the trade unions were not happy with the proposal and threatened industrial action. Dan-Air, backed down and agreed ground staff could be issued with new uniforms.

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 ample 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 an emergency door. This led to the Captain deciding to land the aircraft mid=flight 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 berserk 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.
One of our charter team contributors told us;

'You wouldn't believe what we managed to pull off you know. I don't think any other airline would even have thought of bothering. I had a contact in the East Midlands and we had a charter going from East Midlands using the A300 which has 336 seats on it., to I think Alicante. Well, the aircraft wasn't based there, it was based in Gatwick, so it would be flying from Gatwick to East Midlands with no one on board it for positioning. So I approached my contact to see what we could come up with and we arranged a day trip from Derby to London. The day-trippers would travel to London on a coach,  get two or three hours in London then we would take them to Gatwick where they boarded the Airbus for a flight to East Midlands for less than forty quid. They would get a glass of fizz and a certificate. Then the Airbus did the return trips to Alicante and after it landed at East Midlands we had offered a trip to Gatwick with a coach back to Derby for £34 - we cleaned up!!'

The UK to Ireland price war continued unabated, with all parties  trimming fares and offering better timings. Dan-Air was the only carrier offering a free bar and hot meals on flights. To try to tempt more passengers Dan-Air offered free train tickets from Gatwick to London central and two nights free accommodation in England or Ireland. Aer Lingus offered business class lounges and upgrades to business class, a days car hire or two nights free hotel accommodation. Dan-Air's advertising claimed that every seat on its flights was the equivalent of a business class seat. Indeed, the cabin on their BAC 1-11 had reduced the number of seats to improve leg room. In May, British Air Ferries announced they wished to compete head to head with Ryanair on the Luton-Dublin service. In this latest round had seen Dan-Air reduce prices to £57 return on the Dublin - Gatwick route. The only restriction being that it was booked 14 days in advance. In June, Dan-Air replaced the BAC 1-11 with a British Aerospace 146 whisper jet on the service. The replacement would see huge savings on fuel. This applied to that the aircraft that other carriers were using on their own services to and from Dublin.
Dan-Air had plenty to celebrate when the CAA awarded them the licence to fly scheduled services from Gatwick to Mahon in Minorca and Ibiza. Orion Airways and Monarch Airlines had also applied to fly the route but were rejected. The CAA said that Dan-Air already had a sound record on the services and that they would not be drawing business from other carriers, unlike Orion or Monarch who also wished to serve the destinations. Orion said they would appeal the decision and that it was anti - competitive to have only one carrier on a route. The CAA said they had given Dan-Air the licence for two reasons, the first was that Dan-Air were offering a higher frequency of services. The second was that Dan-Air already had a significant share of the Mahon market and were better placed to use the scheduled flights as a springboard from which to develop its services without relying on other carriers. Something they felt Monarch and Orion would need to do.
Dan-Air introduced a new computer reservations system at Newcastle in August. The system, a forerunner to today's internet, was served by a satellite that sent the details to a host in the United States and back to Dan-Air within three seconds.
In late July it came to the public's knowledge that British Caledonian were now in a desperate financial state. They had been in secret talks with several companies, but were in favour of a merger with SAS, who had the offer that pleased British 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 any member state's company. SAS were not interested in owning 39% of Caledonian. The deal was off. British Airways was in a position to take control with a possible hostile take-over. The independents objected immediately and the merger was referred to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission. The dilemma that the Government faced was that a large airline employing over 6,000 people could go to the wall with thousands of job losses.  Then there would be a scramble to carve up the routes between all 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 operating as the charter division of BA for many years. In this new deal,  British Airtours was to be scrapped and Caledonian (Not British Caledonian anymore) would become the new charter division of BA. It was quite an insult to a once proud airline to now be relegated to appear to be just the same as the airlines it critiqued so harshly. Having said that, The aircraft that Caledonian would operate would be upgraded to Boeing 737 and 757.

A Dan-Air flight from Manchester to Venice in August saw one passenger strip naked and run up and down the aisle. Crew reported that the man 'went berserk -  he was very violent and was doing very strange things' The UK Foreign Office denied that the passenger had shouted 'I have a bomb' and had tried to open an emergency door over the Alps. Police escorted the man from the aircraft at Frankfurt where the jet had made an emergency landing. The man was arrested and named as Paul Sturhaug of Manchester. This incident was followed a few days later when a man flying from Palma to Stansted was booted off an aircraft by passengers! The man kept walking up and down the aisle  smoking, something forbidden on aircraft. Crew had repeatedly asked him to sit down. The aircraft was forced to divert to Toulouse where police were expected to arrest the man, Gendarmes would not board the aircraft. So, instead, passengers kicked him off the aircraft. The man, John Lindley from Cardiff was sedated and taken to hospital. French medics conducted a brain scan to see if Lindley was fit to fly home. Concluding that he was the French Police said that they could not allow an ill man to be left to find his own way home. It transpired that Lindley, who was described by his Father as 'self confident' had cut short his holiday in Majorca by a week. On board the aircraft he suddenly developed a 'manic fear of flying' this led to him smoking in the aisle. Once seated Lindley's anxiety increased and the man tried to open an emergency door on the Boeing 727 whilst it was cruising at 35,000 feet. This forced the pilot to land at Toulouse. Dan-Air said it had to ensure the safety of the other 145 passengers and crew of eight.
In October Thomas Cook chartered a Boeing 727 for a series of 'fear of flying' flights from Stansted. The flights would have a full complement of crew to help people get over their fears. The hour long flights would follow a morning in a classroom and were priced at £39
Dan-Air sponsorship deals continued to give good publicity to the airline with a football team and the Ulster ladies squash team being sponsored by the 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. Dan Air joined IATA this year, giving them an enhanced status.


  • 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
  • Gatwick - Mahon
  • Gatwick - Ibiza


At the start of the year Dan-Air could announce that they had set a new record for the number of passengers carried on a UK independent airline. A total of 5,481,000 passengers were carried in 1987.
The price war on the Gatwick-Dublin route had reached levels that were unsustainable for any of the operators who were battling for a share of the available market. Offers that included two for one tickets and two night hotel stays with tickets were being offered with tickets that were being sold at prices that could barely give the airline a profit. Dan-Air had reduced their fare to £66 and with within day this was dropped to £63.

In January the European Parliament held a conference on the behaviour of passengers. The European Parliament Transport Spokesman said that he did not want to see airlines forced to ban the sale of alcohol on aircraft as that wouldn't be fair to the overwhelming majority of passengers who behaved well on flights.  But that he did not want to see airlines 'overdose' passengers with alcohol either, urging the Association of British Travel Agents to take action on the matter. The Transport Spokesman, Edward McMillan-Scott, said that he had been shocked last summer when he saw passengers at Manchester Airport last summer drinking alcohol in the departure lounge at at 8 am. He urged the Government to take steps to warn passengers about the danger of drinking and the loss of their reputation when overseas. This was a particular problem for  the 2.5 million people who took flight-only trips overseas. Foreign Governments including those of Spain and Greece were particularly worried about the few people who drank to excess. Some travel firms encouraged visitors to attend drinking parties. If the problem were to get any worse these tour firms could be facing a crackdown with the overseas Governments saying 'no' to them being allowed to bring holidaymakers to their resorts.  Dan-Air's head of public relations, George Yeomans said 'Airports should be more restrictive over the sale of alcohol. With airports and air traffic getting busier as the industry continues to expand, and holidays packages continue to be relatively inexpensive, sadly, we can expect this relatively new phenomenon of drunks on board aircraft will continue to increase unless tougher action is taken all around.'

Arrowsmith, the Tour Operator owned by Freddie Laker in the 1970s was now owned by Owners Abroad. In 1987 the company launched 'Skysavers' as a stand alone brochure. The difference was that this brochure did not advertise holidays but just flights. With prices like Manchester - Girona for £49. Cathel Maclean the Managing Director said that the company would primarily be selling seats on their sister company,  Air 2000. There would be no reduction in the quality of service on board their aircraft for passengers who were travelling as seat only guests. He said 'I find it amazing that some of our competitor tour operators only offer coffee and biscuits on, say  a four hour flight to the Canaries, and that maybe after they have had a substantial journey to get to the airport. Coming back,they may have had a nice holiday,but they will remember how hungry they felt on the long flight. And it's all for the sake of £2:50 a head, which is what the airline to provide a meal.' This was a dig at Airtours who had become the butt of many jokes. Owners Abroad chartered Dan-Air aircraft and insisted that on all flights passengers would get a meal. The Skysavers programme would have access to all charter flights in the Owners Abroad programme and would be offering similar discounts on Dan-Air and other carrier's flights.  Maclean went on to say 'As usual with seat only charters, the price does include very basic accommodation. Whether you use it or not (nudge nudge) is up to you. In other words (wink wink) arrange your own.'

Following the British Airways takeover of British Caledonian several of their services were removed and put up for tender by other carriers. The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) had also taken some of British Airways' Gatwick services and they too became available. Following the BCal takeover, Virgin Atlantic became 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 British Airways' long haul services and invite other airlines to apply to operate them. Two ex-BCal services were of interest to Air Europe and Dan-Air Aberdeen-Gatwick and Aberdeen-Manchester. Dan-Air placed applications for the two services in late 1987. In January 1988 Air Europe placed a similar application for the Gatwick-Aberdeen service. In fact Dan-Air were awarded both services and to celebrate the airline launched the new early morning service from Aberdeen with their 'champagne breakfast service' where passengers would enjoy a cooked breakfast with Bucks Fizz cocktail.
The Gatwick-Lisbon scheduled service commenced in February  with 9 am flights on Monday, Wednesday and Fridays with a Sunday service from March. The two hours thirty minute flight promised a Bucks Fizz breakfast and a chance to read the Sunday papers. The Inverness - London service had carried 110,000 passengers last year, an increase of 7.5%. An additional early morning daily flight was to be added and an extra Sunday flight. What  had 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. This would improve connections for the new scheduled services to Mahon, Alicante, Madrid and Ibiza. The Gatwick-Innsbruck service started offering three weekly return flights using a BAe146 jet-liner. The Gatwick-Zurich service was upgraded to three daily return flights, one more than previously offered.

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 understatement 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!
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 successful, 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 accommodation 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.
The new scheduled services would perfectly suit 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 Scheduled Services provided a new level of service on domestic flights this year when passengers would be offered free Bucks Fizz or Champagne on domestic flights. Air 2000 had offered Bucks Fizz in a plastic, yogurt style pot. Dan-Air would serve Moet & Chandon in glassware to all passengers.

Dan-Air's press campaign for its scheduled services told potential customers that whilst 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.

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 would attempt to go head to head with Dan-Air's applications on many routes.  Dan-Air were successful with their applications for international flights from Gatwick to Nice and Madrid. Domestic licences were awarded to 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 until 1992.

A unique cloak and dagger charter occurred 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.
April this year saw Dan-Air in the headlines when Captain Wilson refused to allow a drunk passenger on his return flight from Tenerife to Manchester. The Spanish Authorities insisted the passenger be carried. Captain Wilson refused and a stand off ensued when the airport refused to allow Captain Wilson to take off. After two hours the aircraft took off without the drunk passenger. Captain Wilson said;
'In aviation law, like maritime law, the Captain is in charge of the vessel and it is him alone who decides who may fly on an aircraft.'
This incident followed a similar event earlier in the month when a fight broke out on board a flight to Tenerife, also from Manchester. The guilty man was met by police at Tenerife. Soon afterwards the police kicked the man from the island. Dan-Air would not carry him home, and the British Consulate had to negotiate a return flight home with Britannia Airways.
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 decision which appears not to be no consistent with a desire for increased competition." They then went on to say "Our argument 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 all 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."

Air UK Leisure took delivery their first Boeing 737 which was to be based at Stansted. The aircraft would make 41 flights a week. Twelve Tour Operators named Air UK Leisure in their programme. A second aircraft was to be based at Manchester. Within a few weeks of the airline starting operations, the airline placed an order for the Boeing 737 400. All of Air UK Leisure's aircraft would be on lease. Several of the Tour Operators who had been named by Air UK Leisure were Dan-Air clients.

In April this year, the erstwhile wholly owned subsidiary of British Airtours adopted the name Caledonian. British Airways' take-over of British Caledonian. The BCal brand was popular with the public and now free to do with it what they wanted, BA applied a modified British Caledonian livery to the entire British Airtours fleet. The modified livery used BA's 'Landor Titles' whilst applying the former rival's colours and rampart lion insignia. Caledonian Airways began replacing its Boeing 737 fleet with ex-British Airways L-1011 Tristars and a number of brand-new Boeing 757s were sourced from the orders placed by its parent company. The former British Airtours 737s were re-configured in British Airways's contemporary short-haul two-class cabin arrangement and began replacing the BAC One-Eleven 500s British Airways had inherited from British Caledonian.

A former BCal girl told us;

'I was upset by the take-over anyway. British Caledonian had been a wonderful employer, they had made sure I had seen most of the world by the time I was in my mid-twenties. I was made redundant at the time and I applied for loads of cabin crew jobs. I was offered a position with British Island Airways, but the wages were no-where near as good as BCal's, nor would I get to fly long haul any more. I am sure that they were a great company, but I will say this, British Caledonian had sort of ingrained into us that we were the best, and that all other airlines were very very much beneath us. They didn't say that other company's were rubbish, but they made us feel like the others were a long way behind us. So, I ended up applying for a job with Caledonian. I got the job, and the pay wasn't as good, but I went for it. When I started I was impressed as far as charter airlines went. We used steel cutlery and the headrests on the seats were of a very high standard. The uniform was more or less the same. The flying conditions were nowhere near like BCal's. I did a lot of European flights and it was really tough going. I had been used to doing a flight and having lots of rest days overseas! I really didn't like the upper management at all. I took a chance and applied to Dan-Air, who took me on for the following summer. I would still have to retrain. Even though I had started off on BAC 1-11s years ago! So, after my temporary contract at Caledonian finished in the winter, they offered me reduced hours over the winter and a permanent contract starting in April the following year. I had to tell them, thanks, but no thanks, I was off to Dan-Air! They were not happy at all. Words to the effect that I was a silly girl who must have been out of her mind for wanting to work for Dan-Air when there was a position here. I had a long rest and did my training with Dans - They were great from the start, I joined the 737 fleet and went straight onto scheduled services because of my background. I stayed to the end, and when BA took Dan-Air over, I wasn't considered for a job. I bet they saw my name and said 'well she can sod off for a start' I went onto Cathay Pacific and then left to marry and start a family.'

As a footnote - In 1995, British Airways decided to exit the package holiday market and sold Caledonian Airways to Tour Operator; Inspirations, along with its fleet of five Tristars. Following Caledonian's sale to Inspirations, the 757s were returned to British Airways. Inspirations became part of the Thomas Cook Group in 1999, when Caledonian Airways was merged with the Flying Colours airline to form JMC Air Services, which in turn became the UK arm of the now-defunct Thomas Cook Airlines. Following Inspirations' takeover by Thomas Cook, the former Caledonian Airways Tristars were withdrawn from service as these had suffered increasing, widely publicised reliability problems resulting in the travelling public's generally poor perception of Caledonian Airways 'Mark Two'.

But back to 1988 - 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 services on the scheduled network as well as supplementing the winter charter programme.

The troubles in Northern Ireland were a constant headache 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.

In June a Dan-Air Airbus burst a tyre upon landing. This led to a hydraulic cable being severed. Thanks to the skills of the pilots, the aircraft landed safely and passengers were ferried to the terminal by coach. Meanwhile a group of Baptist pilgrims had booked 20 seats on the scheduled service from Aberdeen to Gatwick where they would join a Dan-Air charter Boeing 727 on a flight to the holy land in Israel. The passengers arrived on time in Aberdeen with tickets in hand only to be told that the seats had been resold. Dan-Air's state of the art computer reservations system which was based in Los Angeles had wiped their booking clear. Dan-Air then resold the tickets. Being the professional airline that it was, Dan-Air were able to charter a British Airways HS 748 especially for them to get them to Gatwick on time. The HS 748 was due to stay in Aberdeen anyway for a later flight. Dan-Air said the reservation system had done this on more than one occasion and a full investigation was launched.

On July 21st of this year, a Dan-air Boeing carrying 132 people was involved in a near air miss with an RAF Tornado jet. Air Traffic Control at RAF Leeming in North Yorkshire instructed the RAF jet to take avoiding action as it passed about two miles behind the Boeing as it flew over Darlington. The airliner was on a return flight from Malaga to Tees-Side. Both aircraft were flying at 2,000 feet. The Civil Aviation Authority launched an investigation.  Captain Deli Fisk-Gray on of the airline's female Boeing 727 Captains was flying home over the Mediterranean Sea when she was alerted by French Air Traffic Control that a much slower aircraft was on the same flight path as her. The traffic controllers instructed the slower aircraft to descend to another level. The Captain protested saying that the jet should take a lower flight level,  'Ah yes!' said the controller with Gallic gallantry, 'but the pilot is a lady.'

Fred Newman, Dan-Air's chairman stated in September that package holiday prices would increase by roughly £20 per person after 1992, when duty free sales on board aircraft would be abolished. He added that flights could see a further £15 per person on a return flight following a European Commission directive that would make Tour Operators fully liable for clients. Newman foresaw that higher fares would come down, but that lower fares would increase. European Commission Air Transport Ministers had issued several new rules. Newman said he welcomed many of them as they were taking steps at liberalisation of European air routes saying;
'Some of these new rules will be of benefit to consumers, but there are other EC proposals that will have the opposite effect if implemented, by increasing airline and travel trade costs.' He also warned that the addition of Value Added Tax (VAT) on aviation fuel, catering and airline tickets would lead to increases passed on directly to consumers, while 1992 harmonisation policies could lead to increased labour costs. He concluded by saying; 'We believe market forces should be left to determine fares and capacity, smaller airlines could be 'swept' away by larger airlines like British Airways and their continental counterparts.'

The Dan-Air marketing team came up with a new slogan this year 'The Secret Is Service'  Julie Anne Thornton had worked as cabin crew for Dan-Air and was now in the marketing team, a department only established two years prior. She said:
'We didn't have a marketing team before and that was why I loved my job. We came up with the slogan. We were the largest independent British airline and had the second largest fleet after BA. We flew to more than thirty destinations all over Europe with scheduled service and more than 100 charter destinations. That was the premise of the slogan. No-one knew just how big we were. Yet we were able to compete against all these big airlines. The main target of the new campaign was to attract AB men. The majority of scheduled services were flown by men, in fact 60% of seats were bought by 20% of the passengers. We were trying to stress the difference between Dan-Air as a scheduled airline and Dan-Air as a charter carrier, 75% of our flights are charter but 25% are scheduled services. The Belfast-Gatwick service for instance was favoured by those who were 'inter-lining' which is those who were travelling onwards to other European destinations. The route was working at over-capacity which meant that competition was very keen We had the lowest fares and at the same time we had simplified our fare structure, because overall fares had become very complex. We met those challenges by targeting leisure passengers and this led to a surplus demand for seats. I had taken the job in London and travelled home every Friday. This saw me struggling to get a seat home on Fridays. The development was ongoing and over Christmas we put on an extra 2,000 seats that sold out. We did this by simply using a larger aircraft. My job was to show the advantages of using Gatwick over Heathrow. I did that by informing people that there was a non-stop train every 15 minutes. Compare that with Heathrow especially if you had luggage, where you would have to get the tube and endure multiple stops. I had a degree in English and being an air stewardess was great, although nowhere near as glamorous as you would imagine. Dan-Air had allowed me to mainly work on the Belfast-London service which allowed me to stay at home in Ulster. The airline decided that they wanted the base for the service to be at Gatwick and we would have to re-locate. They offered me this job and I was delighted to accept. The main role was in advertising which allowed me to be creative. i could have continued with my English and being creative for the sake being creative. So this job allowed me to have the best of both worlds it was demanding and challenging, but I had the chance to do all sorts of interesting things. I wanted to stay in marketing, especially with the team that I had with me in London, while I was there, between us, we could pick up on things that might be important locally that are not important elsewhere. In 1988 we were concentrating on London and the South East, the campaign cost about £1 million. We were going to then move on to another region. I had hoped it was going to be Northern Ireland. I liked being in London, but the quality of life was just not the same, although I had friends in Norther Ireland who had graduated with me, but had not had any job at all. I took a chance, I guess being an air stewardess first, and it paid off. They took me on in marketing because I had the product knowledge. I knew the company well having worked for them. I think my degree also helped.'

In August another inquiry was launched by the Civil Aviation Authority after another air miss involving an Air UK Boeing 737 flying to Jersey and a Dan-Air Boeing 727 en route to Malaga both flying at 18,000 feet. The incident occurred at 8:15pm over Farnborough in Hampshire. Both aircraft were under the control of London Control Centre. A Spokeswoman for the CAA said 'Preliminary investigations indicated that the Dan-Air pilot was advised that the Air UK aircraft was at a range of four miles. With the other aircraft in sight, he passed by at 18,000 feet three quarters of a mile away.' She added that there would be a full  investigation by the independent Joint Air Miss Group. Any aircraft that comes within a five mile range or within 1000 feet vertically is deemed an near-miss. The inquiry revealed that the air traffic controller responsible had just re-trained another traffic controller suspended over a previous near-miss above South Wales. The re-trainer found himself being re-trained by his former pupil of a few months previous!
Yet another near miss was reported by Dan-air involving yet another RAF aircraft. This time a Provost military jet based at Inverness. The incident occurred as the BAC 1-11 was coming in to land at Inverness on a flight from Heathrow at 3:00pm. The 1-11 had been cleared to land and was less than half a mile from touch-down. The Provost had been cleared to join the circuit. The RAF was fully aware of the 1-11 and it was claimed that the pilot had it in sight at all times. The Provost then crossed above the runway of the incoming airliner. The RAF said that there was no avoiding action necessary.

The new scheduled services from Aberdeen to Manchester and Gatwick to Paris, Nice and Manchester would commence on October 23rd. The domestic flights and Paris would be with a BAC 1-11 and the Paris service operated using a Boeing 737.
Inverness passengers got a 'Glorious Twelfth' treat on 12th August on the 6:50am flight to London. The treat was courtesy of Dan-Air and the Golf View Hotel at Nairn, who aimed to be the earliest birds of the year at the start of the grouse shooting season. The operation involved a grouse shoot on a Moray estate being shot and then rushed to the hotel to be cooked in the early morning. There was then a dash to the airport to get them ready to be served to passengers, who were also treated to a miniature bottle of whisky.

A published in August by the National Consumer Council saw many Tour Operators criticised. the report called 'Dreams, Nightmares & Consumer Redress' had surveyed 10,000 holiday-makers. Airtours and Intasun along with their subsidiary companies, Global and Lancaster were singled out as the 'the worst offenders'. Asked to rat various services, 20% of their customers said they were dissatisfied with their rep. Among Airtours customers, 20% said that the brochure description was inadequate. Accommodation provided by Global and Airtours were badly rated. The report called for an end to surcharges and for better compensation when things go wrong. Eileen Hills of Intasun said; 'complaints like this have to viewed in perspective, as the second biggest Tour Operator we will take more than two million people on holiday this year. She believed people would rather be taken to a different hotel than to one that had fallen below standard. The company had a large quality control department which monitored holidays very closely.
Miss Jane Shaw, Marketing Manager of Airtours said thing have changed dramatically since the survey was carried out last year. 'That was a difficult year for us since then contracts with a foreign airline and various hotels were reneged on because they were offered more money by one of our competitor operators in the UK. We now have a three year contract with Dan-Air to protect ourselves and our customers, and various agreements with hotels in resort. The Consumer Council said that the 10,000 complaints made to them are 'the tip of the iceberg'. The supported the European Commission's draft directive  for an end for surcharges, tour operators to be liable for any failings with the holiday and compensation for aggrieved tourists, saying: 'surcharges are unfair and unjustified and not counter-balanced by refunds.
Ms. Hills said that Intasun had abolished surcharges for 1989 but could not see beyond that. A spokesman for the Association of British Travel Agents said that if the NCC got all the things they wanted then the cost of holidays would increase substantially. Mr. Doug Goodman of Thomson said they were surprised by the report because they had already abolished surcharges and agreed with most of the things that the NCC had recommended, but making Tour Operators liable for faults of hoteliers, airlines and others would not work.

East Midlands based Orion Airways had grown substantially in the eight years that it had been flying. The fleet had grown to 21 aircraft including 12 Boeing 737 200, 7 Boeing 737 300 and 2 Airbus A300. The carrier flew in excess of two million passengers a year and had recently started scheduled services. The carrier had quickly earned a reputation for its punctuality and its class of serve. Parent Company, the Tour Operator Horizon was purchased outright by the brewery Bass in 1987. The purchase of a brand new flight simulator in 1988 made the airline appear to be secure in Bass' hands. The fact that the airline was running as a neatly organised company complete with a fully integrated Tour Operator made it ripe for a take-over. The industry was surprised, when ever expanding Thomson made an offer of £75 million to Bass that was accepted. Orion would be fully integrated into the Thomson group. The last Orion flight would take place in January next year. All of the scheduled services would pass onto Britannia Airways without interruption. The Horizon brand would continue to trade. The East Midlands base would cease to be the operating base for the airline. Management were released and decided to open a new airline in association with Belgium's Trans European Airways - TEA UK. Under the take-over agreement the new carrier was forbidden from having a base at East Midlands Airport, so they chose Birmingham Airport which was fairly nearby. Subsequently TEA UK did go on to have a sizeable presence at East Midlands. the same management would late form Excalibur Airlines  Horizon had used Dan-Air on several charters and this was likely to stop. It did! Horizon was the third largest UK Tour Operator and Thomsons' expansion would now put them way ahead of their nearest rival, Harry Goodman's ILG. Thomson would now operate almost 50% of package holidays.

1988 saw the bitter rivalry between Dan-Air and Air Europe become 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.  With only two aircraft,  Air Europe couldn't fly more than four return flights a day. International Leisure Group (ILG) who owned Air Europe, along with their many tour operators under the ILG banner would still need Dan-Air to carry out the vast majority of their flights. In any event, Dan-Air found new contracts with new Tour Operators and those who wished to expand.
Air Europe had, until 1987, been operating the majority of its business as charter flights (80%) After the British Airways (BA) takeover of British Caledonian in 1987 several of the latter carrier's routes had now been taken over by Air Europe including Copenhagen, Gibraltar and Brussels. Air Europe were then successful with an application to serve Stockholm. This was a major diversion from Air Europe's traditional operation. In 1988 Air Europe announced that they had placed a huge order with Boeing for 22 Boeing 757 aircraft that had been adapted to enable them to fly across the Atlantic. A further order of eight Boeing 737 400 was also announced shortly after. Some of the jets would join the fleet of Air Europe's sister carrier Air Europa. This would bring the Air Europe fleet to close to 60 aircraft. ILG then announced that they wished to fly out of Gatwick throughout the night. At the time this was not possible as noise restrictions meant a curfew was imposed late at night. Air Europe wanted to be exempted from this as their aircraft were new and 'super quiet'. Air Europe fully understood, they said, why the airport wanted to stop old aircraft that would disturb residents. It was not unnoticed that the snipe was headed at Dan-Air.

Air Europe then continued their offensive in by changing their handling agent at Gatwick from Gatwick Handling to Servisair. Gatwick Handling was half owned by Dan-Air. Over their 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  would operate European Scheduled services from Gatwick.
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. The CAA then awarded Air Europe licences to fly on the Gatwick-Paris and Jersey routes in direct competition with Dan-Air.
ILG's Intasun brand had now become the second largest Tour Operator in the UK, several off-shoot tour operators were under the ILG umbrella including Club 18-30, and Lancaster.  Fortunately for Dan-Air, ILG's Tour Operators sold many more holidays than Air Europe could fly. Consequently as many as six Dan-Air aircraft were chartered by ILG to fly their holiday passengers. ILG were known to want charter flights at the lowest rates. In some cases, when flights were operated by Dan-Air's Boeing 727s, the charter revenue earned less than the fuel and operational costs.

In September Dan-Air promised to maintain the £40 one way air fare between Belfast and Gatwick. The service had become so successful that larger aircraft had to be introduced. For the winter period scheduled flights would leave Belfast for Newcastle, Bristol, Cardiff and Gatwick. This came just before another row broke out between the independents and the Civil Aviation Authority. British Island Airways were appealing against Dan-Air being given the license to operate scheduled flights between Manchester and Gatwick. BIA were also appealing against the decision to allow Air UK to fly between Gatwick - Glasgow and Edinburgh. One can understand why Dan-Air would be so infuriated with BIA. an the latter did not operate any UK domestic services. In 1980 BIA had been absorbed into Air UK, just two years later having failed to sell its unprofitable charter operation to another airline, Peter Villa, then Managing Director of Air UK decided to re-constitute British Island Airways. With financing Villa took the four BAC 1-11 aircraft that had been absorbed into the Air UK and launched BIA mark two. The new airline acquired four second-hand BAC 1-11 500 and began to work with the same Tour Operators that Dan-Air were working with. British Island Airways were able to offer then competitive rates on lower density charter destination than other carriers. The introduction of the MD83 on scheduled services saw BIA turn a profit in 1988. The BAC 1-11s that BIA flew were now working with Virgin Atlantic and Air Florida as part of their multi leg trips across the Atlantic, such as Air Florida's Miami - London - Maastricht  and Virgin's New York - London -Amsterdam. ILG were interested in buying BIA. Intense negotiations took place. ILG were looking to add the BIA operation to their own, as they had several landing slots and scheduled services to Malta and Catania and Palermo in Sicily. Their varied fleet would give ILG the ability to operate thier own charter flights with several different types, from smaller 89-119 seat BAC 1-11 to their Boeing 757 with 228 in addition to the Boeing 737 could seat between 130 and 169.This latest set of appeals would be decided by the then Transport Secretary Paul Channon.

In October it was announced that Gatwick-Madrid scheduled flights would start at £130 return.

The widow of the pilot who was killed in the 1981 Nailstone accident was awarded £330,000 by the High Court in London on October 3rd this year. Captain Roger Griffin died when the aircraft, which was carrying mail from Gatwick to East Midlands, came down in fields near Nailstone in Leicestershire in June 1981. His widow Patricia was left with a ten week old son, who was awarded £50,000 to be placed in a trust fund. The sum, with costs, was awarded against Dan-Air and British Aerospace. They both admitted liability.

The Scottish Highlands and Islands airports announced that traffic had increased by at least 5%  in all but two of their airports. Although the Chairman Hugh Lawson admitted that the group would never break even because of the lack of population and the need to carry out inter-island services that would never make a profit. He said that they would always require a grant from the Scottish Office. Stornaway was down 2% because of a downturn in the local economy and Wick was down 3% partly because Air Ecosse had gone into administration, this was hoped to be reversed when British Airways took over the Caithness service. At Inverness, movements were fewer but passenger numbers were up. Mr. Lawson said;
'Dan Air have done wonders for the airport with their Inverness to Heathrow operation, increasing passengers on that route substantially, and there is talk about extending the number of schedules next year.' Sumburgh, which was once the jewel in Dan-Air's Scotland crown had seen significant falls in the number of oil related charters, as oil companies chose to abandon fixed wing aircraft in favour of longer range helicopters that can fly directly to oil rigs from Aberdeen.

Dan-Air's Chairman, Fred Newman issued a stark warning on October 10th when he said that fares were almost certain to increase once the 'open market' operates after 1992. He said the abolition of duty free sales on aircraft and at airports could lead to a £20 increase on the cost of a return flight to the Mediterranean. He estimated that the European Commission directive that Tour Operators and Travel Agents be fully responsible for clients could put another £15 on the cost of a holiday. He added; 'Whilst the cost of some higher fares may come down, many lower fares, including UK charter fares will go up.' Mr. Newman said he welcomed the first steps taken by the E.C Transport Ministers last December towards liberalisation in Europe. He said: 'These policies are intended to benefit the consumer, but at the same time, there are other E.C proposals which, if implemented, would have the opposite effect by increasing airline and travel trade costs.' The application of VAT on aviation fuel, catering and airline tickets would pass directly onto airline fares, while 1992 harmonisation policies could lead to increased labour costs. Mr.Newman said: 'We believe market forces should be left to determine fares and capacity.'  He warned that smaller scheduled carriers would be 'swept away by dominant airlines such as British Airways and their Continental counterparts.

October 23rd was the launch date for the new services from Gatwick and Manchester, but October 11th saw the announcement of Dan-Air's new business class cabin 'Class Elite' - Initially the service would be available on the high frequency Gatwick - Nice service, but would be extended to other routes shortly afterwards. Fred Newman said 'While in the past we have concentrated on providing a good product for our economy passengers, we now intend to increase our appeal to the business traveller. The new schedules firmly entrench Dan-Air as one of Europe's largest scheduled, international carriers. The London - Paris Class Elite fare would be £109 one-way. The standard fares was £88 one-way and the cheapest 'Maxisaver' fare would be £55 return. This fare had conditions such as being booked no sooner that 28 days before travel and the ticket-holder would have to have a Saturday overnight stay at their destination. Air Europe launched a Gatwick-Paris service on October 24th in direct competition with Dan-Air. Air Europe's business class fare would be £92 which was £17 cheaper than Dan-Air's. Meanwhile, plans to reduce the Belfast - Bristol service to three flights a week, instead of five throughout winter were shelved following a surge in bookings.

Pro-smoking group 'FOREST' lashed out at British Airways' smoking ban on all domestic flights, which would come into force on October 30th. The group's chief said 'Who the hell does British Airways think it is? They are behaving more like Air Edwina Currie than the World's favourite airline. We urge the 17 million smokers in this country to boycott British Airways and where possible fly with Dan-Air or British Midland on domestic flights and start thinking about other British carriers on international flights, because this will ban will only be extended. It is outrageous, what next? No alcohol?'

Engineers at Dan-Air's Manchester base began the task of replacing the seats on three of the company's BAC 1-11 aircraft. Those aircraft used on 'Class Elite' flights would still have five abreast seating, but the centre seat would not be sold. There would be a table fitted on the centre seat. These could be adapted for more or less 'Class Elite' Passengers.
A company Airbus A300 with 322 passengers got stuck in the mud at Gatwick in November. The flight had returned from Gatwick and was taxiing to the gate. One of the rear wheels came off the taxiway and firmly lodged itself into the mud. No-one was injured on board. Buses took the passengers to the terminal and luggage was unloaded on the taxi way. A tug was called and after three attempts the aircraft was freed. The incident happened at the quick exit taxi way and closed it for two hours. Several flights were delayed as they had to take a longer taxi to avoid the Airbus. Dan-Air said that an investigation would be carried out, but the incident was a relatively minor one. The aircraft was undamaged and after being cleaned up, returned to service the following day.
Passengers on the Belfast - Gatwick service were up 12% since last year, with Dan-Air now being the second largest operator in Belfast.

Three brand new Boeing 737 400s joined the fleet ion December 1st. They arrived in time for the winter season of charter flights. They were fully utilised for the entire winter and the 1989 summer season was fully booked already. Dan-The introduction of the Boeing 737 400 series to the fleet was seen as a major breakthrough. The operating costs of the 400 series were dramatically less than the Boeing 727, in particular the 100 series. Realising this, Dan-Air had to seriously look at consolidating the fleet into more modern, fuel efficient types. More 146 aircraft were on order. These would eventually replace some of the older BAC 1-11s.

Travel analysts reported that they envisaged Thomson moving away from 'price pitching' which would lead to higher holiday prices. Thomson responded that it was 'Absolutely denying' that they were planning increased priced saying; 'We will aggressively seek customers by offering high quality and keen prices.' adding 'By increasing prices we would simply be shooting ourselves in the foot.'   
Harry Goodman, chairman of ILG countered; 'There is a much needed opportunity here, to raise prices, but if Thomson uses its position to get predatory and offer low prices, there will be a price war, that will bankrupt 60-70% of the opposition, adding; 'If there is going to be a new war, the others haven't got a hope in hell.' Goodman revealed that he had asked the Office of Fair Trading to look into the takeover. Thomson's airline had 27 Boeing 737 and six Boeing 767, Orion had eight 737s and two Airbus A300.
Dan-Air completed the new £5,000,000 engineering hanger at Gatwick. The hanger would increase Dan-Air Engineering's capacity and was capable of providing maintenance on aircraft up to the size of 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. the two class cabins would begin at the start of the winter timetable.

'Class Elite' quickly became the gold standard in European Business Class, and was now widely regarded as being the best in the European 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 was provided. 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 to central London.

There was uproar at Gatwick when the British Airports Authority said they wished to increase prices on landing slots, check in costs and use of airline lounges. A delegation of 90 airlines demanded to see the BAA to protest at the increases, some of which were said to be in the region of 700%.

As winter approached there was a significant show of strength from charter carriers. Britannia Airways placed a £500 million order for 16 new Boeing 767 wide body jets, Monarch ordered six Airbus A300 and was looking at acquiring the Boeing 767. Air Europe would purchase the MD11 and claimed the carrier would carry 400,000 passengers on long haul flights by 1990. Dan-Air had no plans for such rapid expansion.  Passenger numbers had risen to 5,809,000.  the charter fleet had been fully utilised this year, which shows great skill.

On a final note for 1988 - Body builder Dave Gaudier helped achieve publicity for Dan-Air when he broke his own strength record in December. Dave had previously pulled a 100 tonne Concorde and had now set his sights on larger record. Seventeen stone Dave attempted to pull a 130 tonne Airbus. At the first attempt Dave fell in front of the aircraft and medic had to ask the Captain for emergency oxygen. On his second attempt Dave pulled the fuel laden jet for 24 seconds, before collapsing, out of breath. After more oxygen Dave had achieved his wish. Guinness said they would investigate to see it a record had been broken.


  • 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


The new year started with a bomb threat on a company Boeing 727 with 170 children aboard. The aircraft was in Geneva about to return to the UK when Geneva Police were notified of the threat. The man who called,claimed to be a member of the IRA. He said the flight had fifteen minutes to evacuate. A second threat was made, resulting in 130 people being taken off a Boeing 737 about to depart for Tunisia. In this instance police sniffer dogs were called and nothing was found. The aircraft took of ninety minutes late. Similar threats had involved Pan Am and Tunis Air. In view of the recent Lockerbie accident which had seen a bomb explode inside the luggage hold of a Pan Am Boeing 747 over Scotland, security had been tightened.

A Dan-Air Airbus A300 left Gatwick en route for Tenerife in January with 330 passenger on board. The holiday makers were expecting a delicious cooked breakfast, instead they noticed smoke coming from  the galley and a burning smell. The Captain made the decision to turn back to Gatwick where the aircraft was met with a full set of emergency services. The aircraft landed safely and the passengers were evacuated. Upon inspection, a newspaper was discovered behind the electronically heated oven in the galley, which had started to burn as the heat from the oven caught hold.  The ovens were supplied to Dan-Air by an outside catering company, and arrive at the place already filled with passenger meals. A Dan-air spokesman said the newspaper had not caught fire but had begun to char when the oven was switched on. He added: 'It cost Dan-Air not an inconsiderable sum of money to return to Gatwick, take the passengers off, and fly them out two hours later on the same plane.'  He added that the outside catering company had ordered a full investigation. Fortunately there were no casualties, but if the newspaper had caught fire it might have been a very different story. Especially if the cabin crew were busy with other tasks and were not present in the galley.

The recently delivered Boeing 737 400 had entered service with Dan-Air in winter 1988, the aircraft had been performing well with crews delighted with it.  On January 8th this year a British Midland Airways example of the type crashed just short of the runway at East Midlands. The pilot had been alerted by a warning light and alarm, of a problem with one of the engines. The pilot of the BMA aircraft had closed down the corresponding engine. It later emerged that wiring inside the flight deck had been incorrectly routed and the warning was alerting the pilot to the wrong engine. By closing down the working engine, the pilot lost considerable power and was flying on the damaged engine alone. The aircraft was just yards from the runway threshold when it came down on an embankment of the motorway. In total forty three people were killed and more than a hundred injured.  As a precautionary measure all 737 400s were grounded while checks were carried out. Dan Air had voluntarily withdrew its sole 737 400 type from service and the aircraft would remain out of service for a short time before resuming flying. It had been scheduled to fly to Faro that day. Checks carried out by Dan-Air Engineering found that the aircraft's wiring was in order and the aircraft re-joined the fleet five days later.

A new start up airline, Scottish European Airways, based in Glasgow applied to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) for a host of licences to operate from Newcastle. Dan-Air objected to each one. Dan-Air said it was standard procedure for airlines to object to newcomers licence applications. Scottish European wished to fly to Brussels, Copenhagen, Frankfurt,  Hamburg, Reykjavik, Gothenburg, Milan and Geneva and said 'We can't see why Dan-Air is objecting to our applications, we would not be flying to any destinations that they do, so we wouldn't be trading on their toes. The only reason we can think of is protectionism, they don't want us entering their market. Dan-Air have the licence for Newcastle-Gothenburg, but they haven't flown the service for years.'
A Dan-Air spokesman said 'Although we haven't used the licence to Gothenburg for some time, we might wish to do so in the future, and if we did they would be in direct competition with us. We won that licence against other people and we don't want to lose it to another competitor.'

Dan-Air expressed an interest in operating out of Orkney this year after several complaints about the standard of service with British Airways and their fares. The local council received a letter from Dan-Air who wished to offer an improved service linking Kirkwall, Wick and Inverness. They thought an improved link might be viable, saying they were waiting for a feasibility study  and engineering assessment to be completed.

A company Hawker Siddeley 748 on a scheduled flight from Newcastle to Aldergrove Airport at Belfast landed at a disused RAF base a few miles away. An airport spokesman said; 'There was no technical reason for the aircraft landing at the wrong place. There was no emergency, no-one was injured and there was no damage to the aircraft.' Weather conditions were poor, with severe wind, heavy rain and low cloud. It appeared that in low visibility the pilot mistook the runway for that of Aldergrove, two miles away. An immediate investigation was launched by Dan-Air. Captain Reg Hood taxied the aircraft to a deserted spot. Passengers were looking at fields of cows instead of airport buildings. The passengers sat there in stony silence. Boyd Neely from Belfast told us;
'We sat there for about an hour, the pilot told us he was waiting for clearance to take off again, but her didn't get it. It was probably just one of those hiccups that happen from time to time. The landing was perfect, dead on time, it just came down at the wrong place.'

The Gatwick-cork service was to be discontinued, the company said they could not get the timings and frequencies to enable the route to develop. However, a greater emphasis would be placed on the Gatwick-Dublin service that would introduce the 'Class Elite' service and increase the number of flights between the two cities. Dan-Air said there would be job opportunities at Dublin. One service not at risk of closure was Inverness - Heathrow which had been such a success that the 82 seat BAC 1-11 400 series that carried out the flights was considered too small. The preferred aircraft was the BAC 1-11 500 series which had 99 seats. The new aircraft delivery was delayed and the airline did not have a spare aircraft. Bookings had been taken for the new aircraft which had so far not arrived. This meant as many as 17 people on each flight would potentially be denied boarding. In some cases passengers were taken to Aberdeen to connect with other Dan-air flights at the airline's expense. Travel agents were disgruntled saying that passengers had been told to re-book or travel via Aberdeen, but that this is 'not the remedy' they said. Dan-Air admitted there had been problems and that the delay would have a knock on effect. Eventually the new aircraft arrived a month late.

Passengers on the Burns night service were treated to a haggis supper.The Grampian Initiative, a group of Scottish businesses chose Dan-Air as their proffered carrier at the Grampian Initiative Awards. The problem Dan-Air faced was that there wasn't a 500 series in the fleet that was available to use. Nor could Dan-Air give a firm date for delivery. Passengers were losing out not being able to travel at the time of their choice as the aircraft simply wasn't big enough. Salvation was to come with the cancelled Gatwick - Cork closure. At least some of the flights could be carried out with that aircraft. In the end, the delay was four weeks!  

Air Europe continued to expand, as well as successfully obtaining a licence to fly between Manchester and Malta, the carrier increased frequency on the Gatwick-Gibraltar service ordering six 400 seat MD11 jets for long haul flights. One of our contributors said;

'Oh my gosh, almost every week they were announcing that they had ordered new aircraft. I had a friend who worked for them and she ribbed me about how big they were going to be, and that I'd be knocking on their door for a job. He had been ex Dans and so he had an insight into how aviation worked. I asked him - where's the money coming from? Aircraft aren't cheap you know. They cost millions each. Air Europe boasted no aircraft was older than two years of age. Then he let slip how they ordered them early and as soon as they got them, they sold them to a leasing company. Then leased them back - the aircraft weren't actually theirs! He said on more than one occasion that they were trying to rub us out. I couldn't understand why - So, one time he tells me that they were opening a new engineering facility to carry out a lot of day to day repairs. Dans had always been their engineers. I thought for the first time - maybe there is something in this.'

In March, the EEC Commission ruled that price fixing of air fares was illegal. The Court Of Justice in Luxembourg ruled that a West German travel agent could sell tickets they bought abroad cheaper. Sales had been stopped because the fares undercut prices offered by airlines. The courts ruled that airlines which offer price fixing agreements and try to keep out competition are breaking EEC law. The Government said they would study the ruling carefully. The independent airlines welcomed the move that they said could reduce air fares by up to 20%.

The annual survey of airlines carried out by Which Magazine revealed that Air 2000 had rocketed to the top of the list for service. British Airways was in the second division. American giants, TWA and Pan Am were rated the worst. Air 2000 was the only British carrier to make it in the first division, among the likes of Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines and Wardair. Dan-Air was rated above average especially on catering, whilst British Airways and Air UK were rated as average. Air Europe announced that they had ordered six MD11 wide-body airliners, and had options for twelve more. The aircraft would be delivered by 1993. Intasun had flown 18,000 passengers on long-haul flights just two years ago and this year they were expected to carry 220,000 long-haul passengers.

In March, more criticism was aimed at Spanish air traffic control after a Dan-Air Boeing 727 with 187 passengers on board came within 300 yards of a Tristar operated by German carrier LTU over Spain. Captain Charles Nash was forced to take the Boeing on a dive after the Tristar had flashed overhead. Dan-Air submitted a report to the Spanish authorities. The incident occurred 80 miles north of Madrid. Captain Nash said he received a 'garbled message' from Spanish controllers. Telling him that if he was at 35,000 feet he should descend to 33,000 feet 'as soon as possible'. Captain Nash immediately pulled the power back and put the air brakes out to get down to the requested flight level. As the plane went down he saw the LTU Tristar 300 yards away passing left to right. A passenger on the flight, Michael Prosser said;
'We were flying along normally when suddenly the aircraft began shuddering and dropped down quite a bit. The pilot then came on the loud-speaker and told us a German plane was on the same flight level as ours, he apologised and said it was Madrid control's fault. He then passed control to the co-pilot and the Captain walked through the plane calming everyone's fears.' Jack Glover, a first time flier aged 76 was aboard and recalled how he had a frightening experience on his debut flight two weeks prior. 'On the way out to Spain from Manchester the pilot told us he was having brake troubles. the stewardess had to go through the emergency landing procedure. That was nothing compared to what happened on the way home. The pilot had to cut his engines and dive to avoid missing the other plane. He told us afterwards that we had missed it by five seconds and that he was able to see the other plane's number, we were very lucky. His son, Barry said: 'Both planes were flying at 500 mph, so that would have had the velocity of 1000 mph - we would have been obliterated.'
No-one was hurt, but a Dan-Air spokesman said 'Both aircraft would have been been flying in excess of 500 miles per hour and 300 yards at that speed is very close the distance would be covered in split seconds. The message Captain Nash received was unfathomable, the only words the Captain understood were 33,000 feet.It was a brilliant piece of flying by Captain Nash.' Dan-Air made a formal complaint to Spanish Authorities.

On April 18th Princess Alexandra opened Dan-Air's new hanger and associated engineering workshops at Gatwick. The jumbo sized hanger was Dan-Air first at Gatwick and the largest single span hanger ever built at the airport. On arrival, the Princess was met by company Chairman Fred Newman as well as board members and visiting dignitaries. A bouquet was presented to her by nine year old Claire Newman, the Chairman's grand-daughter. the new Dan-Air band of Pipes and Drums made its debut at the opening. The hanger would give Dan-Air Engineering extra capacity for their own and third party engineering work. The £10 million hanger could handle wide-bodied aircraft as large as a Boeing 747.

In May, Sir Ian Pedder became the new Dan-Air Chairman. The 63 year old former Spitfire pilot would replace Fred Newman, who had been at the helm of the company since he founded it in 1953. Those thirty six years had seen the company grow from a single DC3 to Europe's largest holiday airline and Britain's second largest scheduled carrier with a fleet of 57 aircraft. Mr.Newman would remain as Chairman of Parent Company Davies And Newman, Holdings and remained non-executive director of Dan-Air. Michael Newman, Fred's son was appointed deputy chairman. The end of the financial year in April had seen pre tax profits rise slightly from £9.5 million to £9.9 million. A company spokesman said '1987 had been a particularly good year for Dan-Air, so it was always going to be a challenge to repeat that performance in 1989. The setting up of a new scheduled service to Paris, the opening of a facilities there, and the employment of consultants to the engineering division all involved exceptional costs. The charter division was making around 450 flights a week from all the major UK airports and Berlin to all the popular Mediterranean destinations. Dan Smedvig, the subsidiary company involved in oil drilling and well servicing had a much better year. He said the company's wider interests meant it could mitigate the effects of the continuing downturn in Package Tour holidays. The company share price stayed steady at 845p as Davies and Newman produced a final dividend of 12.5p making a total payout of up 2p to 17p.

RAF Manston in Kent was used by Dan-Air from May to October this year. Cosmos had chartered the BAC 1-11 for a series of flights to Palma and hoped that Tenerife would be added next year. The flights were permitted after the Ministry of Defence relaxed the rules concerning civilian flights operating from RAF airports. Several other airports were being considered. Cosmos Managing Director, Roger Corkhill said; 'We are using Manston because we have been worried about congestion problems at Gatwick and Luton. The bookings for the flights are really good.'

In June all the UK's Boeing 737 400 aircraft were grounded for inspection. They type was the same as the British Midland Airways jet that had crashed in January 1988. This came after a Dan-Air pilot had noticed excessive engine vibration  during a flight from Menorca and a British Midland Captain landed on one engine. The grounding of the type caused major delays at airports in the UK and across Europe at the start of the busy summer period. Replacement aircraft were sourced at great inconvenience to airlines and passengers. The Boeing 737 400 was operated by five UK airlines, Air UK Leisure, Dan-Air Novair, British Midland and Air Europe. The charter airlines had responded to Tour Operators slashing the number of holidays they were selling that year by either chartering them to other Tour Operators or reducing their own fleet. Now with the aircraft grounded it was almost impossible to find replacement aircraft at such short notice. However, Dan-Air were able to replace all the affected flights the following day by 'careful planning of our other aircraft', said a company spokesman.
The aircraft were given the all clear after modifications were carried out to the engine fan blades.

Dan-Air became the first UK airline to introduce Draegar Oxycrew smoke hoods for cabin crew on all aircraft. The hoods were designed by the company and Dan-Air and could cost the airline £60,000. Once the hoods were placed on the head they would generate oxygen for twenty minutes. This would help cabin crew evacuate an aircraft more effectively and protect them from sparks as well as smoke and toxic gases. The airbus fleet already had a similar product. Britannia Airways and most other airlines made similar orders following Dan-Air's announcement.

The Imperial Air Cruising Company chartered two company Boeing 727 tri-jets for a series of 12 and 30 day air-cruises combining the luxury, service and easy going leisure of bygone days with contemporary travel. The aircraft would be refurbished with four abreast armchair style seats and would carry only 75 passengers as opposed to the 140 the aircraft normally carried. Quality dining and fine wine would be served by cabin crew wearing 1920s style outfits. There would be VIP treatment at airports, staying in the best hotels and visiting the most spectacular sights. The aircraft would accompany the guests throughout their holiday. A seven day cruise 'La Belle Epoque ' would take in Paris, Vienna and Moscow. The twelve day Royal Ottoman would visit Vienna, Istanbul, Cairo, Luxor and Rome. The month long 'Imperial Cathay' would visit Cairo, Luxor, Delhi, Bangkok, Peking, Singapore, Phuket, Nepal, Tashkent and Paris. the holidays would be priced between £1499 and £6750. The charters would start in October this year and carry on until May 1990.

In what seemed to be becoming an annual event, Dan-Air and other carriers had to contend with drunken passengers. Certain destinations might appear to be more likely to suffer from this problem. One doesn't expect it on a return flight from Rimini. One expects even less, the culprit to be a 67 year old granny who started slugging it out with her daughter. Sheila Morrissey, from Stretham, began the fight with her daughter, Pat Tate, twenty minutes after the flight had taken off. The BAC 1-11 had to return to Rimini after cabin crew had wrestled Ms Morrissey to her seat. Ms. Morrissey was still in resort the next day, but Dan-Air did not press charges. In further incidents in August, six men were refused boarding after stripping naked in a departure lounge in Malaga in front of other passengers waiting to board a flight to Manchester. The drunken men shouted abuse at airport staff and passengers. Three of the six had their tickets stamped 'refused carriage' and therefore not permitted to fly home on any charter carrier. The other three were being assisted three days later by representatives of Airtours who had chartered the aircraft. The men were from Mansfield, Nottinghamshire. Later, two men were refused travel from Bristol after being drunk and rowdy. At the end of August, 11 passengers had 'refused carriage' stamped on their tickets after drinking all night before heading to Malaga Airport to fly home, again to Manchester. One passenger was unconscious on the floor while the other ten were drunk and rowdy. The consulate in Spain said they would have to purchase new tickets, but this time for rail and sea crossings. In an attempt to stem the drunken behaviour Dan-Air decided to give restraint training to cabin crews. Aircraft would now carry plastic straight jackets. The devices are not as gruesome as would appear. The devices only retrained wrists and were wrapped around arm rests. The more a person struggled, the tighter the straps became! Three Liverpool men who were denied boarding, claimed that they had been the victims of mistaken identity and were seeking compensation from Dan-Air. Both Dan-Air and Air Europe called for rationing of drinks on charter flights. Both carriers called for a limit of two drinks for each passenger. This was a shame on charter flights, as it was a good source of revenue for airlines.

British Airways pulled out of the Aberdeen - Jersey route, which would be taken over by Dan-Air in May. The new service was to see an introduction of a jet aircraft,  Inverness-Manchester was reintroduced after a two year gap with good yields from the start. Shortly after starting services, the BAC 1-11 400 was replaced by a 500 which saw capacity increased from 89-99. Dan-Air were now offering champagne breakfast on all their scheduled services, and they were promoting the Class Elite service through press adverts.

Dan-Air suffered negative press when it emerged that one of the Boeing 727 200 in the fleet, which had bought two years ago, had been written off in an accident whilst in the service of Mexicana. The aircraft had suffered a wheels up landing, sliding a mile down the runway before the impact forced two fuel boosters through the fuselage.  In July it was grounded when a coach which was picking passengers off the aircraft clipped the wing.  The 16 year old aircraft had been fully repaired by Dan-Air Engineering. George Yeoman, head of Public Relations said that it was 'perfectly normal' for airlines to buy aircraft that were due to be written off and 'put them right.' He assured the press that the aircraft had been given 'absolute clearance' from the Civil Aviation Authority.  He went on to say ''Dan Air Engineering were second to none. The repair had taken 24,000 man hours. We had bought the aircraft some years ago - The aircraft was featured on ITV's 'World In Action' who did a reasonable hatchet job on the aircraft.' He added 'There are lots of planes flying that have been in crashes. The aviation industry is the most regulated in the world. We don't fly aircraft that are not safe'
The aircraft had carried thousands of Manchester holidaymakers  to continental hot-spots. The jet -G-BMLP known affectionately by crews as 'Lumpy Papa' a variation on its official call-sign 'Lima Papa' was built in 1973. Since then it had flown 26,180 flights and spent 40,703 hours in the air. Lima Papa carried out about 17 return flights a week during the busy summer months, carrying in the region of about 6,500 passengers a week. The day the story broke it had taken a full load of 187 passengers to the Greek island of Kefallonia. Dan-Air had nine of the 200 series and three of the 100 series, with three based at Manchester, including Lima Papa.

The Civil Aviation Authority released its first ever league table for delays. It would reveal which airports and airlines were the best and worst. Delays in April, the start of the holiday season went up by 40% compared with out of season flights. Two of the most popular destinations, Palma and Malaga were also two of the most delayed. Worst performing was British Island Airways who's average delay on the Gatwick-Malaga flight was three hours and 12 minutes. The airline also scored badly at Faro in Portugal, where the average delay was four hours and 16 minutes, and Zurich with and average of two hours 23 minutes. The airline said 'It was luck of the draw' and that 'the vast majority of our delays are caused by air traffic control.' The overall average delay for airlines leaving Gatwick for Malaga was one hour 34 minutes. To Faro (8 airlines) 82 minutes and Zurich (10 Airlines) 26 minutes. The report showed that on average 65% of flights were 'on time' that is within 15 minutes (early or late). For Malaga Air Europe had average delays of 69 minutes, while Dan-Air, Britannia, Caledonian and British Airways had 71 minute delays, where a delay occurred. With Faro Air UK leisure 251 minutes, British Island Airways 266 minutes, Britannia 105 minutes, Air Europe 46 minutes, British Airways 43 and Dan-air 25 minutes (charter) Palma saw average delays of 19 minutes with Air Europe, Caledonian 32 minutes, Britannia 33 minutes, British Island Airways 33, and Dan-Air 17 minutes. The UK's worst affected airport was Gatwick.

A chilly, difficult to heat aircraft hanger at Manchester, owned by Dan-Air Engineering was in line for a Norweb Beta Building Efficiency Award in August.
the popular resort of Salou in Spain was hit with a Typhoid outbreak in August, major Tour Operators cancelled bookings to the resort and offered clients the opportunity to transfer bookings at no cost to them. In September,the new 1990 brochures were launched and agents were expecting a price war for the summer of 1990. Thomsons would offer vouchers to holidaymakers to spend on the high street before travel and discounts of up to £60 on early bookings. Intasun's seat only brochure 'Skyworld' were offering 140,000 flights only deals. With a return flight to Palma from only £29. They offered customers 'The lowest possible price or your money back'. Saying that if anyone found the same flight elsewhere within 14 days of booking they could have their money back or have the booking price-matched. Airtours were promising 50% more holidays from Newcastle than 1989. The price war came to an end in September. Thomson Holidays had said 'We didn't want it, we didn't ask fro it, but we couldn't stand by and watch our business get swallowed up' Thomsons were by far the largest Tour Operator in the UK.
By late September Goodman had axed 200,000 holidays from the 1990 summer programme declaring that it was the end of the damaging holiday price war. He said he was reducing the number to concentrate on providing quality and that last minute bargain discounts would be a thing of the past. He said Intasun holidays would next year rise in price by 9-11%. Thomson Holidays had announced that they were reducing available holidays by half a million, and Horizon would axe 100,000 holidays. It soon transpired that Thomson and Horizon Holidays had to drop 800,000 packages from its summer programme. Bookings were down as interest rates soared. Greece and parts of Spain were particularly affected. Some holidays had already been booked. One travel agent in Nottingham had seen forty holidays cancelled. 'It is upsetting for clients, but we are managing to find alternatives. There will be very little by way of late sales this year. Only a few of the forty we have changed have not been happy with the alternatives. Tour Operators were being very generous in recompensing holiday makers by doing things like offering better holidays for the same price they had paid.
Goodman said that fewer holidays on sale was good news for holidaymakers as having the pick on surplus accommodation would mean higher standards. He said the price war armistice would mean Tour Operators would be able to compete 'On the basis of quality of accommodation and services rather than the price.' Fewer Britons travelled to the Mediterranean hot-spots this summer and that Tour Operators had been concerned over bad publicity about the lack of quality at some resorts.' Goodman's International Leisure Group (ILG) said; 'We are thinking about charging people to take our brochure. They cost about £1 to produce and often it is only one person in fifty  who books a holiday.'
Travel Agent Michael Croft told us;
'Intasun had a pretty poor brand image. They made no bones about it, and always aimed their product at the cheap end of the market. I didn't see a problem with that, as their money is as good as anyone else's. Air Europe had a great brand image, which made the two companies quite incompatible. It was a pretty hard sell to shift Intasun holidays when it was well known as a down-market brand. It was never going to be easy to get a Thomson customer to flip to Intasun. As far as Harry's claim that there was not going to be any last minute discounts - that was a load of rubbish. He said they needed to change their image and then Intasun bring out brochures saying 'free insurance' and that they wouldn't be beaten on price. They slagged Dan-Air off and at the same time chartered some flights with a Turkish carrier called Toros Air and we had clients coming into East Midlands who said their kids had no seat-belt and were tied in with string. That passengers were sat for the whole flight in the cockpit, and stewardesses were sat in the aisle. They may have said they wanted to change, as far as I could see that is all they did do - say it. Air Europe was a different thing altogether - they were great.  The whole industry was tricky in 1990, I didn't know that ILG was in trouble. But going back to the idea that Intasun was going to re-brand itself was frankly ridiculous.'

Captain Elizabeth Overbury also retired, Dan-Air had a fine reputation with female pilots  (in 1988 Lyn Roberts left for British Airways. Captain Yvonne Sintes retired in the early 1981)  Captain Overbury flew her last flight aboard a HS 748. when she taxied her aircraft to a halt at Newcastle, it brought to an end her distinguished career.  she was greeted on the apron by her airline and airport colleagues who had brought her a bouquet of flowers and two of her pet loves - the airport security dogs. When she saw the dogs she brought down two packets of Dan-Air biscuits down the steps. An airport spokesman said; 'He love of dogs is unmistakable, with many tales of her stroking dogs or patting them before they were placed in the hold. She had been in the aviation industry since 1957, joining Dan-Air as a First Officer in 1975 before becoming a Captain ten months later. She flew most types, from Tiger Moths to Dakotas, HS 748, BAC 1-11 and Boeing jets. She said; 'I'm looking forward to retiring, but I will miss the comradeship of my colleagues.' She had plans for the future, but said 'I'm not telling what they are.'

A Captain refused to let eleven 'drunken yobs' from Liverpool on his flight from Malaga to Manchester in August. The BAC 1-11 was delayed as the men ripped off their clothes, swore at other passengers and being involved in fighting. Their passports were stamped 'Refused Carriage'. Their Tour Operator, Airtours said they would have to make their own way back to the UK, by ferry and coach - at their own expense. This was followed the next day with two families who boarded a company Boeing 727 at Bristol for a flight to Malaga. A pub landlord staggered on the aircraft and the Captain ordered him off the aircraft. His friend stepped in to protest and a scuffle broke out. The Captain then ordered both men, and their wives, 10 year old son and a 15 month old baby off the aircraft. The landlord was arrested and bailed on further investigation. The two families had paid in excess of £1000 for their holidays. The friend said; 'We had a few while we were waiting for the plane I admit. I asked to see the Captain and I was pushed back, so I shoved back. I was then arrested.' The pub landlord said: 'I was drinking before the flight - who doesn't on holiday? We had been delayed for hours in the hot airport, and the baby was already upset.'
The police said: 'We ejected one man who the pilot didn't consider fit to fly, he left the aircraft quietly. his friend took exception to this, there was a heated argument and the man was arrested after a scuffle broke out.'
A Dan-Air spokesman said 'Passenger drunkenness was on the increase and we warn passengers to stay sober or risk not being allowed on the aircraft. We do not want lager louts on our aircraft. It doesn't do our image, or Britain's image any good abroad.'
In September Dan-Air staff were issued plastic straight jackets and given retraining lessons in a attempt to stop loutish behaviour. The jackets would be used to keep a passenger in their seat. It emerged that other carriers had been forced to do the same. All airlines stressed that the devices, as well as plastic hand-cuffs would only be used in the most extreme cases, as a last resort.
Three of the Liverpool men said they were in the process of suing Dan-Air over a case of mistaken identity after being stranded in Spain. They claimed they were looking at 'substantial compensation'.

Intasun cancelled its contract with the Turkish Airline Toros Air and chartered Dan-Air aircraft instead. Following a series of flights where passengers had complained en masse about the Turkish carrier. Intasun said they were not satisfied that Toros Air can carry out the obligations that we require of them. Most flights had suffered several hours delay, passengers were not allocated seats and many seats did not have life jackets, safety cards or sick-bags. The safety demonstration was rushed and crew were lying in the aisles to rest. Travel Agent Michael Croft picks up the story;

'That is exactly what I was saying. We had read in the travel press that Intasun and their associate companies did not want to charter Dan-Air's old aircraft - yet they were happy to charter a Turkish airline with exactly the same type. There was a feeling, even at branch level that ILG wanted Dan-Air our of the picture In the case of Toros Air - they were lucky Dan-Air had the available aircraft and skill to get ILG out of a potentially dangerous position.'

In September a Boeing 727 experienced technical difficulties on a charter flight returning to Manchester from Turkey. Passengers claimed they suffered a 'terrible ordeal' as the aircraft with 187 passengers on board 'rocked' from side to side as it jettisoned fuel and 'limped' to Athens on two engine, after the pilot was forced to shut one engine down. It was claimed that one runway at Athens was closed down as emergency vehicles rushed to the jet. Two passengers reported that this was only the start of their nightmare. The passengers were put up in an Athens hotel for the night as the aircraft underwent repairs, the following morning the 187 passengers, mostly from the north west of England were coached to board the same airliner. Just ten minutes into the flight the Captain radioed back to Athens reporting that the same fault had re-occurred and they would be making a second emergency landing.  Angry passengers were then put on another aircraft and returned to Manchester. Colette, a 25 year old sales representative said she was in tears as the plane made 'rumbling' noises, saying: 'I've flown many times before, and I have never heard those noises before, I really didn't think we were going to touch the ground again. I will never fly with Dan-Air again, we should never have been put back on that aeroplane. There was no explanation for the noises, like there usually is when you go through turbulence. It was as though the pilot was fighting to keep control of the aircraft. Women all around me were screaming and crying.'
Her 30 year old husband, civil servant Brian, was now pressing the airline for compensation. He was left with just £3 after spending all his Turkish currency, saying: 'We had no money for the airport, it was just terrible. we got an apology from the pilot but haven't heard anything else.'
A spokesman for Dan-Air said: 'At no time was there any danger to the passengers and at no time was there any danger to the engines. The pilot had a fire warning, and because of increased procedures by the Civil Aviation  Authority it was necessary to land the jet. The Captain was only following strict procedures.' He added: 'It is not unusual for an engine to be shut down, in fact, the aircraft can land on one engine if necessary.'
Captain Alan Selby told us;
'I don't especially remember that incident, but pilots will all have a similar tale to tell. It sounds to me like the Captain carried out what is standard practice. The flight deck would have all been trained to deal with this eventuality. I would imagine that all was calm on the flight deck as they dealt with the situation in a professional way. Of course, the lady you mentioned said she had flown many times, but I can guarantee that she won't have flown as many as all the crew had. She may have heard noises that were unfamiliar to her, and she may have been alarmed at the turbulence, I can also guarantee that the flight deck crew would not be alarmed. They wouldn't fly through exceptional turbulence, and although it may have appeared to have been rocky to her, the aircraft is perfectly capable of flying in normal turbulence. I can well understand that even as a fairly regular flier, she would be frightened and even tearful, it wouldn't be great if the Captain were to burst into tears or scream! I am certain he felt bad that the passengers were frightened, we never want people to not enjoy their flight. If he apologised to the passengers I am sure he did so in a way that will have assured them. As for putting them in a hotel overnight, it would have been as much an inconvenience to the crew as it was for them. It was unfortunate that the same thing happened after repairs were carried out down route. But would the couple rather the crew carry on as if nothing happened to get them back to Manchester? That would be foolish, and that would be potentially dangerous. Their cash shortage was, sadly their own problem. It might have been a package with one of the Tour Operators who were not particularly generous with refreshments during delays. It would have been Dan-Air who were footing the bill for the hotel, and I cannot imagine that we would have let them starve in the airport or hotel. If the problem was Dan-Air's responsibility then I know we would have done all we could to make them comfortable and safe.'

A few days later a Dan-Air jet took off from Stansted for a holiday flight to Monastir when airport officials were alerted that a bomb had been placed on an aircraft that had taken off at midnight. The only departure at that time was the Dan-Air jet. Air traffic controllers ordered the aircraft to land at Gatwick where it was guided to a safe area away from the terminal. Passengers were ferried to safety while sniffer dogs and bomb squad experts searched the airliner. The team took two hours to thoroughly search the aircraft and found nothing. Passengers were asked to identify their luggage which was then searched. After breakfast the aircraft was given permission to take-off. They reached their destination seven hours late. One of our contributors told us:

'There's bugger all you can do about it, other than to land. You might think that if the caller had an Irish accent or an Arab sounding voice that you would take the call more seriously, but no, it doesn't matter who is calling, you have to act upon it. In most cases you did get warning phone calls. You have to be sure. That said - It would have cost a great deal of money to land at Gatwick, and then have all those security measures. I will never understand why people do that sort of thing. It's not just the cost. Those passengers would have probably all been terrified.'

Dan-Air Engineering had won a contract to maintain and re-fit a VIP BAC 1-11 against stiff competition from Singapore and the United States. The luxury aircraft was fitted with deep pile carpets, computers, TVs, power room and a well stocked bar and galley. The aircraft would carry up to 21 passengers in luxury, as opposed to the 79 the type normally carried. The mahogany finish completed the look with plush sofas and beds. The £200,000 contract was carried out at the engineering division's Manchester base. Which Brian Ward, Dan-Air Engineering's administration manager said 'is the biggest BAC 1-11 engineering base in the world.' The airline's Boeing and fleet was maintained at Lasham, whilst British Aerospace and HS 748 were maintained at Manchester. The new hanger at Gatwick was equipped to handle all types in the fleet.

There was a sad farewell in October to an aircraft known affectionately by crews as GARY. The moniker came as the aircraft's registration was G-ARAY. The Hawker Siddeley 748 was the second prototype of the aircraft, built at Woodford in 1961. The prop-liner was packed with enthusiasts who were taking a two hours special trip from her owners, Dan-Air, British Aerospace, who built her, and Manchester Airport, where she was based. Piloted by Captain Mike Nash, she was flown over Newcastle, Leeds/Bradford airport, Woodford, Chadderton, and the Preston factories of British Aerospace. In spite of cloud and rain, her fans were there to greet her, and were treated to mini displays. In 1971 she was sold to Dan-Air where she carried out short haul domestic flights and mail from Liverpool. 'Her future is uncertain' Dan-Air's Peter Clegg said, 'Her civil aviation airworthiness certificate runs out at the end of the month. She could be stripped down for use as a freighter, but it is unlikely she will ever become a passenger plane again. Too many expensive modifications are needed. ' The prototype of the 748 crashed, but at the time of her retirement there were 340 of the 368 built were still flying.

Captain Laurie Buist was awarded the Queen's Commendation for valuable services in the air in October. Captain Buist had been a pilot since 1951 and had flown 18,000 hours.

Proposals to end the sale of duty free goods at airports and on board aircraft would see air-fares rise by as much as 10% airlines claimed in October. Britannia Airways estimated that 400 of its workforce could lose their jobs. Dan-Air's Tony Barnes said;
'The loss of duty-free along together with other costs relating t the internal market programme, could lead to seat price increases of up to 25%. The report,carried out by the Netherlands Economic Institute said that thousands of jobs would be lost if the plans went through. In addition, the manufacturing and distribution centres would be severely affected.

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 also down. For the first time, not all of the charter fleet had been fully booked out. Turnover was up 16% at £163 million, whilst losses were at almost £8 million from £1.7 million 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 proving a success and an extra daily service was added bringing the number to three daily. The 'Class Elite' had been launched on the Belfast-Gatwick service and had proven to be a popular product,  with 16% of the 28,000 passengers using it.
In December, Chairman of Davies and Newman, Fred Newman categorically denied that Dan-Air was about to merge with Air Europe saying; 'The rumours are absolutely untrue and we don't know who started them.' Nevertheless the city thought something was afoot with Davies and Newman shares rising by 95p.

In November the UK's second largest Tour Operator, Intasun said they were cutting a further 200,000 holidays from their 1990 programme. Intasun had only applied for a six month licence for the period November - April giving them the opportunity to increase flights should there be a reversal of their fortunes.

In November Dan-Air took part in repatriation flights after Paramount Airways went into receivership in November. The airline had panes chartered by several Tour Operators including Redwing,  Owners Abroad and Intasun. The airline had demanded advance payment for charters and Tour Operators had refused. Th airline had controversially operated a non-smoking policy. The airline went bankrupt to the tune of £11 million. It was also being investigated by the Serious Fraud Office.

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, and so, three 727 100 series aircraft continued in service. Further charters fortunately come Dan-Air's way and extra aircraft were quickly needed. This resulted in the addition of two Boeing 727 200 and a further new Boeing 737 400 series that had recently come off the production line. 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   

The threat posed by Air Europe grew even greater this year when its parent company, ILG, announced it was reducing the six aircraft it chartered from Dan-Air to just three. ILG stated in public, that it did not wish to use Dan-Air's "Old, gas guzzling jets". This was a crushing blow to Dan-Air. The Boeing 727 aircraft in question had been time chartered by ILG and carried Intasun and Lancaster Holidays passengers. Time Charters meant that the aircraft were used exclusively for the charter client. Each one was capable of carrying 189 passengers; The six aircraft would usually perform three return flights a day, over a six month summer this could translate as losing almost 500,000 passengers. They plunged the knife in further when they stated that they were no longer going to use the services of Dan-Air Engineering.
Air Europe then successfully applied for several routes that British Airways had been forced to drop following the British Caledonian merger. Air Europe were already competing head to head with Dan-Air on the Gatwick-Paris and Jersey services. Now they stated that they wished to operate cut priced scheduled services to the United States, New Zealand and other exotic locations. Dan-Air had been successful with many of their own route applications.  But darker times still lay ahead.


  • 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.


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