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The creation of Air UK. Why did it happen ?

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The creation of Air UK. Why did it happen ?

Old 11th Mar 2020, 22:04
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Thankyou for your insights Arthur, they make much sense.
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Old 11th Mar 2020, 22:55
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Thanks for your very interesting reply Arthur. Now forty something years on I know exactly what that hydraulic problem was. I don't think I ever probed an engineer too deeply into what a particular snag was and My Goodness when a sprog one soon learnt never to be so foolish as to ask an engineer how long he was going to take to fix the bally thing! Some the BIA Station Engineers at LGW had a wonderful way with words....and with their tools too.

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Old 12th Mar 2020, 05:25
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I'm not sure that BIA & AA ever became truly amalgamated what with a Head Office remaining in Redhill and an Operational HQ in Norwich, there was a 'them & us' friction between the two which I recall settled down somewhat following the relocation to Stansted.



Based myself in Norwich wef 1985 of course I heard the AA side of things, that the HPR7's days were numbered, that there was only so much profit to be had on island routes, the 1-11 IT operation was losing money and the story doing the rounds was that PV having married one of the directors daughter's was given the 1-11's and the BIA name to 'go and play with those' having, the group, tried unsuccessfully to sell that side of the operation Amusing though because once any AUK F28's had gone they were dry-leasing back two of their previous 1-11's to operate the Scotland/AMS routes.



AUK also supposedly set-up Manx Airlines in partnership with BMA but that was more like AUK giving BIA's IOM operation away with the newly formed Manx becoming part of the Airlines of Britain group along with BMA, Loganair, London City Airways and any others that may have slipped my mind.



Previous posts mention F27 serviceability etc. but a lack of serviceability certainly set us enough challenges in Ops combined with operating a fleet of some five Sheds which were even worse, not to mention the two dry-leased BIA 'Geriatric Jets' I held the record for sub-chartering in some 7 or 8 aircraft during one 90 minutes lunch period, we were regularly chartering the likes of BAF VC8's, South-East Air HPR7's, TalAir Bandit/Shed, Kondair PA31, KLM anything up to a DC9 size, Paramount MD83, Air Holland (or something like that) Convair 580, Brown Air G1, Gill Air's first SD330 G-RNMO (Geronimo) and these are just some that spring to mind.



And didn't the F27's have two (to be sure to be sure) green lights for the nosewheel?
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Old 12th Mar 2020, 09:44
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Well I worked for both Air Anglia and BIA in the days when BIA were primarily operating scheduled services with Heralds. Peter Villa was our Boss and you couldn't meet a nicer more approachable, well-grounded bloke with a bit of an aviation pedigree, (his dad being 'Pancho' in his day, a pilot of some repute). It was a brilliant little airline, superb air/cabin crew and pretty efficient too.

Here is Villa's view on Air Anglia quoted in an article about Air Anglia in 'The Aeroplane' a couple of years ago: "They put 85-seater aeroplanes on what had previously been operated by 44-seat F27s and they put F27s on routes that had been operated by Chieftains. The traffic didn't come up to the requirements. I don't think they had really worked out the market potential - it very rapidly became obvious they were loosing a fortune."

Wilbur Wright and Jim Crampton the founding directors of Air Anglia joined the board of Air UK but soon retired. Probably only too happy to realise their initial investment from all those years before. They both had other well established business interests to pursue.

My erstwhile colleague Phil Chapman Commercial Manager Air Anglia and later with Air UK remarks that the differences between Air Anglia and BIA were like 'Chalk and Cheese'. Air Anglia had a fully automated reservations system BIA did not. Indeed Phil Chapman reveals that Air Anglia once considered buying BIA but at the time it didn't suit Air Anglia to do so.
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Old 12th Mar 2020, 23:20
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I recall a trip with AUK in 1996, it was a simple STN-AMS for an onward train journey to a convention on a F50. The in flight magazine had the CEO shouting the odds about how profitable they were. I remember thinking, "He's asking to be taken over." Very soon KLM did just that.
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Old 12th Mar 2020, 23:48
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KLM had shares, and increasing shares, in Air UK long before the 1990's, even before the name change to 'KLM UK' KLM already owned Air UK 100%.
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Old 13th Mar 2020, 01:01
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Originally Posted by Phileas Fogg View Post
KLM had shares, and increasing shares, in Air UK long before the 1990's, even before the name change to 'KLM UK' KLM already owned Air UK 100%.
Your absolutely correct with your assessment of KLM and it's association with Air UK. But just to add to what you have already quoted.

Follow from the beginning of the gradual liberalisation of the European Union (EU) internal air market in 1987, Dutch flag carrier KLM, a long standing business partner of Air UK and it's predecessor Air Anglia acquired a 14.9% minority stake in Air UK's holding company. In 1995 KLM increased it's minority stake in Air UK to 45%. In 1997 KLM became Air UK's sole shareholder when it acquired B&C's (British and Commonwealth) stake in British Air Transport (Holdings). The following year Air UK was renamed KLM uk.
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In 1997, KLM became the sole owner of Air UK. This resulted in the airline being rebranded KLM uk in January 1998 including the adoption of a new livery based on the KLM livery. The legal name changed from Air UK limited to KLM uk limited in April 1998.

in 2002 KLM decided to integate what was left of KLM uk into KLM Cityhopper, it's wholly owned Dutch based regional subsidiary. It also decided to sell BUZZ it's low cost airline that had taken over many of the former KLM uk routes to Ryanair the following year. This transaction constituted the final link in a long chain of events.

B&C (British and Commonwealth) had a long history in aviation being involved in many airlines up until 1998. Those included British United Airways, British United Air Ferries, British United Island Airways, which later became British Island Airways BIA in 1970 and Air UK after the merger of BIA with Air Anglia in 1980. B&C were also were also a major shareholder in Bristow Helicopters, acquiring full control in 1985.

For those of you who are interested in shipping which is my forte, British and Commonwealth shipping originally owned the iconic British shipping company the Union Castle Line. B&C withdrew completely from shipping in 1982. B&C was formed in 1955 and was liquidated in 1990 after running into financial problems.

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Old 13th Mar 2020, 04:22
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Originally Posted by Sotonsean View Post
B&C (British and Commonwealth) had a long history in aviation being involved in many airlines up until 1998. Those included British United Airways, British United Air Ferries, British United Island Airways, which later became British Island Airways BIA in 1970 and Air UK after the merger of BIA with Air Anglia in 1980. B&C were also were also a major shareholder in Bristow Helicopters, acquiring full control in 1985.
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Not forgetting Servisair aka Circusair and I seem to recall Airwork Services along with Aviation Traders also!

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Old 13th Mar 2020, 12:02
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In 1958 Freddie Laker sold Aviation Traders ATL and Air Charter to Airwork Services. The deal became affective in January 1959 when both companies joined the Airwork group.

In 1960 the Airwork group merged with Hunting-Clan to form BUA British United Airways.

By the time Airwork merged with Hunting-Clan "which was owned by the Cayzer family" in July 1960 the former air transport subsidiaries included Channel Air Bridge, Morton Air Services and Transair.

In 1962 British United Airways purchased Jersey Airlines after BEA sold its 25% minority holding. Jersey Airways became part of the British United Airways group of companies. In August 1963, Jersey Airlines changed it's name to British United (CI) Airways.

Following the BUA groups 1967/68 reorganisation, BUA (CI) was absorbed into British United Island Airways in November 1968. British United Island Airways was a regional sister airline of British United Airways. In 1970 after British and Commonwealth sold British United Airways to Caledonian Airways to form British Caledonian Airways B&C retained British United Island Airways and it was renamed in 1970 to British Island Airways BIA.

In 1980 British Island Airways merged with Air Anglia to form Air UK. The rest of which has already been discussed in detail.

Servisair which I purposely omitted because we were discussing the airline's of the B&C group.

Although I am very familiar with Servisair I'm not in a position to give a detailed account of the companies history but I'm aware of the fact that the B&C group were involved with the company at some point during it's existence.

All that I do know that it was formed in 1952 and it was at one time the United Kingdom's largest ground handler and was to be seen at the majority of the UK's airport's. Servisair was acquired and merged into Swissport along with Aviator Airport Alliance in 2014.

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Old 14th Mar 2020, 03:09
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Originally Posted by Sotonsean View Post
In 1958 Freddie Laker sold Aviation Traders ATL and Air Charter to Airwork Services. The deal became affective in January 1959 when both companies joined the Airwork group.

In 1960 the Airwork group merged with Hunting-Clan to form BUA British United Airways.

By the time Airwork merged with Hunting-Clan "which was owned by the Cayzer family" in July 1960 the former air transport subsidiaries included Channel Air Bridge, Morton Air Services and Transair.

In 1962 British United Airways purchased Jersey Airlines after BEA sold its 25% minority holding. Jersey Airways became part of the British United Airways group of companies. In August 1963, Jersey Airlines changed it's name to British United (CI) Airways.

Following the BUA groups 1967/68 reorganisation, BUA (CI) was absorbed into British United Island Airways in November 1968. British United Island Airways was a regional sister airline of British United Airways. In 1970 after British and Commonwealth sold British United Airways to Caledonian Airways to form British Caledonian Airways B&C retained British United Island Airways and it was renamed in 1970 to British Island Airways BIA.

In 1980 British Island Airways merged with Air Anglia to form Air UK. The rest of which has already been discussed in detail.

Servisair which I purposely omitted because we were discussing the airline's of the B&C group.

Although I am very familiar with Servisair I'm not in a position to give a detailed account of the companies history but I'm aware of the fact that the B&C group were involved with the company at some point during it's existence.

All that I do know that it was formed in 1952 and it was at one time the United Kingdom's largest ground handler and was to be seen at the majority of the UK's airport's. Servisair was acquired and merged into Swissport along with Aviator Airport Alliance in 2014.
Well put it this way, wherever Air UK operated if there was a Servisair present then they had the handling contract, it did lead to the occasional problem whereas Servisair might have considered the aircraft to be there own and making unauthorised operation decisions, can't name names but one Servisair on top of a hill in Yorkshire could be a problem.

And at STN it was Aviation Traders doing Air UK's line maintenance, in the good old days of STN with just a few Air UK Sheds, Servisair and Aviation Traders the parties would be good fun, it was like we were all part of the same family.
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Old 14th Mar 2020, 04:38
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Phileas Fogg

I'm aware that Servisair generally handled Air UK if they had a presence at an airport in the UK that the airline served. But where Servisair didn't have a presence either Air UK self handled including line maintenance or another handling agent was used.

Although Servisair were never present at Southampton Airport during it's history considering that Air UK had a large presence there and before that BUA, BUIA and from 1970 BIA. They all self handled at Southampton Airport including line maintenance.

​​​​​After the merger of BCAL and British Airways in 1988 Servisair set up shop at LGW as the third ground handling agent, alongside British Airways and Gatwick Handling.
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After the demise of BCAL in July 1988, Gatwick Handling took over ground handling and line maintenance for Air UK rather than Servisair.

I guess that it made sense for Aviation Traders to do line maintenance for Air UK at Stansted considering that they were on-site and it saved the airline having to have their own dedicated maintenance team at the airport. And Servisair was already an incumbent gound handler at Stansted with Stansted Handling a subsidiary of Gatwick Handling the second ground handling agent at Stansted just arriving at the airport.

For example British Caledonian Airways at LGW handled many airlines from ground handling to line maintenance including British Island Airways long after Caledonian's purchase of British United Airways from B&C in 1970 to form the independent British Caledonian Airways. BCAL continued to handle BIA and it's successor Air UK right up until BCAL merged with British Airways in July 1988. I guess that it made commercial sense to do so.

I take it that your a former employee of Servisair going from the content of your post.

​​​​​​One person on top of the hill in Yorkshire...... let me think..... Leeds Bradford Airport 😉

On a side note....I received an email regarding your post which was timed at 03.09, I'm pleased that I'm not the only person who keeps odd hours. Insomnia can be a real problem can't it 🤔
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Old 14th Mar 2020, 09:28
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Originally Posted by Sotonsean View Post
Phileas Fogg

I'm aware that Servisair generally handled Air UK if they had a presence at an airport in the UK that the airline served. But where Servisair didn't have a presence either Air UK self handled including line maintenance or another handling agent was used.

Although Servisair were never present at Southampton Airport during it's history considering that Air UK had a large presence there and before that BUA, BUIA and from 1970 BIA. They all self handled at Southampton Airport including line maintenance.

​​​​​After the merger of BCAL and British Airways in 1988 Servisair set up shop at LGW as the third ground handling agent, alongside British Airways and Gatwick Handling.
​​​​​
After the demise of BCAL in July 1988, Gatwick Handling took over ground handling and line maintenance for Air UK rather than Servisair.

I guess that it made sense for Aviation Traders to do line maintenance for Air UK at Stansted considering that they were on-site and it saved the airline having to have their own dedicated maintenance team at the airport. And Servisair was already an incumbent gound handler at Stansted with Stansted Handling a subsidiary of Gatwick Handling the second ground handling agent at Stansted just arriving at the airport.

For example British Caledonian Airways at LGW handled many airlines from ground handling to line maintenance including British Island Airways long after Caledonian's purchase of British United Airways from B&C in 1970 to form the independent British Caledonian Airways. BCAL continued to handle BIA and it's successor Air UK right up until BCAL merged with British Airways in July 1988. I guess that it made commercial sense to do so.

I take it that your a former employee of Servisair going from the content of your post.

​​​​​​One person on top of the hill in Yorkshire...... let me think..... Leeds Bradford Airport 😉

On a side note....I received an email regarding your post which was timed at 03.09, I'm pleased that I'm not the only person who keeps odd hours. Insomnia can be a real problem can't it 🤔
Sotonsean,

You've reminded me that Servisair set up shop at LGW but there is something in my mind that suggests that Servisair LGW was of a somewhat different ownership to other Servisairs.

Nope, I've never worked for Servisair nor any handling agent, I'll give you a clue, until 1982 I worked for the largest DC10 operator outside of USA that 50% owned Gatwick Handling!

An email timed at 0309, well presuming that may be 0309 GMT and with my location being GMT+8 that would make my post at 1109 local time would it not?
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Old 14th Mar 2020, 10:14
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Servisair that set up shop at LGW was a very different beast to the old S-Aair at say MAN from the 60's

At LGW they bought in to or took over Ogdens' handling (who in turn had taken over BA's 3rd party handling in 1988 after the BCAL takeover)

LGW handling back in the day (my day lol) was GHL (owned by Dan Air and Laker) BEA then BA, and BUA then BCAL - that was it until BA took over BCAL and Ogdens came in)
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Old 14th Mar 2020, 11:23
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Rog747

You are the expert when it comes to things like this and this site would be an absolute loss without you.

I knew there was another handling agent at LGW, I can remember the logo and the desks at LGW but for the life of me I could not remember the name of the company.

In actual fact I thought that Ogden Aviation Services were at LGW later than you have stated, I know that they didn't last at LGW for very long. When Ogden's first appeared at LGW I had never heard of them before and I can remember being rather surprised about that at the time.

In 1988 after the merger between BCAL and British Airways (although I always refer to it as more of a takeover than a merger, much to my sadness at the time) there was a lot of third party work for other ground handling agents such as Gatwick Handling Limited and Ogden Aviation Services after British Airways stopped handling them.

Servisair started at LGW after taking over Ogden Aviation Services or least taking over their handling. Ogden's presence at LGW was fairly short lived,.

Did Servisair buy Ogden's or did Ogden's just leave LGW and Servisair replace them?

​​​​​​Was Servisair at LGW replaced by Reed Aviation or did they operate at LGW at the same time?

After Dan Air's takeover by British Airways in 1992 Gatwick Handling Limited ownership was divided between Northwest and Delta. Gatwick Handling Limited merged with British Midland Handling Services, Midland Airport Services and Reed Aviation in 2000 to form Alliance UK (but I'm sure that you are totally aware of all that).

In what year did Swissport appear at LGW?

When Alliance UK was formed in 2000 there was themselves and I'm assuming Swissport as well as British Airways self handling making three handling agents at LGW at the time or was there a fourth?

Although we've slightly gone off thread from the topic of Air UK but it's an interesting story regarding the handling agents at LGW after the demise of BCAL in 1988 and the formation of Alliance UK from GHL in 2000 and the other companies concerned with that merger. Plus the inclusion of Ogden Aviation Services and Servisair.

ps I've yet to reply to your excellent post on the Stansted History and Nostalgia thread 😉
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Old 14th Mar 2020, 19:15
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Originally Posted by OUAQUKGF Ops View Post
Th.................s when a sprog one soon learnt never to be so foolish as to ask an engineer how long he was going to take to fix the bally thing! ............ too.
On the apron at a Gulf Airport, midday, air temp about 45 in the shade, VC10 in transit with a snag, 100 plus passengers in the lounge getting fractious, no news from station engineer, so eventually I walk over to the aircraft, find that engineer is right up in the nose cone, listen to muffled cursing and instructions to flight deck, and then tentatively and meekly call up to the almost invisible engineer, "any idea how long it'll be?".
Engineer slowly wriggles his way out of the nose, gets down to terra firma, looks at me, and walks to the edge of the apron, beckoning me to join him. When I get there he looks at me for a long moment, and says "I am not a magician. Maybe I can fix it, maybe I can't. I have no f*****g idea whatsoever how f*****g long it might take. But one thing I do know; it'll take a f*****g time longer if I have to stop what I'm doing and answer f*****g stupid questions while I'm trying to solve the problem." And with that he turned and walked back to the aircraft.
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Old 14th Mar 2020, 20:39
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Where did Air UK Leisure (if at all) fit in to you Air UK later?
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Old 14th Mar 2020, 21:57
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Fascinating. So much, apparently incestuous, history to digest with Air UK and its numerous predecessors, not to mention all the Handling Agents at Gatwick.

The part from Phileas about Servisair at Leeds Bradford caught my attention. I remember in the late 80s an Air UK F27 landed and the Tower Controller instructed the flight crew to park at the far eastern end of the apron, far away from their usual contact stands in front of the terminal. When the crew queried this, the TWR Controller informed them in no uncertain terms that "the company" had requested a remote stand and to take it up with them. In other words, 'don't ask, nowt to do with me, not my problem.' I don't know if the company in question was Air UK Ops or good ol' Servisair at LBA but it makes me wonder now Phileas has raised the issue😜.

Helen49, the foregoing episode might interest you.
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Old 14th Mar 2020, 22:55
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Servisair, iirc, began as Manchester Airport Agencies. No relation to B&C, but Mike Bishop worked as a dispatcher for MAA and went on to greater things.
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Old 15th Mar 2020, 00:16
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Originally Posted by L66MBD View Post
Where did Air UK Leisure (if at all) fit in to you Air UK later?
Air UK (Leisure), in partnership with a tour operator came commencing operations during early 88 with a B737-200, it progressed on to operating more modern before being sold on during the 1990's.
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Old 15th Mar 2020, 00:21
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Originally Posted by Mooncrest View Post
Fascinating. So much, apparently incestuous, history to digest with Air UK and its numerous predecessors, not to mention all the Handling Agents at Gatwick.

The part from Phileas about Servisair at Leeds Bradford caught my attention. I remember in the late 80s an Air UK F27 landed and the Tower Controller instructed the flight crew to park at the far eastern end of the apron, far away from their usual contact stands in front of the terminal. When the crew queried this, the TWR Controller informed them in no uncertain terms that "the company" had requested a remote stand and to take it up with them. In other words, 'don't ask, nowt to do with me, not my problem.' I don't know if the company in question was Air UK Ops or good ol' Servisair at LBA but it makes me wonder now Phileas has raised the issue😜.

Helen49, the foregoing episode might interest you.
Aircraft stand allocations etc., in my experience, always fall under the jurisdiction of the airport and/or handling agent, or a station manager if the operator has one, "company" does normally refer to the aircraft operator but presumably Servisair had a bigger fish coming in and wanted the little Fokker out of the way, that's their choice.
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