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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 3rd Mar 2020, 10:24
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The creation of Air UK. Why did it happen ?

It's just over forty years ago that Air UK was formed, through the merger of British Island Airways and Air Anglia, plus Air Wales and Air West. Something I have never learned in all these years is what the specific motivation(s) was for the merger in the first place. I know nothing of the two smaller players, but BIA and Air Anglia shared some parallels, e.g. medium-size propellor fleet mainstay (Herald and F27), recent introduction of jets (1-11 and F28) and also the recent introduction of the Embraer Bandeirante. Perhaps these were significant factors. I remember reading in the final Air Anglia timetable that both airlines were owned by the British and Commonwealth Shipping Group, yet I know this has been disputed on this site, with mention of the Cayzer family, Norwich Union and Reckitt and Colman being cited as at least part-owners of one or the other ! I honestly don't know but I hope somebody else does.

Thankyou.
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Old 3rd Mar 2020, 11:08
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The Cayzer family were the main shareholders in the British and Commonwealth Shipping Group.
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Old 3rd Mar 2020, 15:56
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Thankyou, Groundloop. I kind of remembered there was some connection between Cayzer and B&C.
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Old 3rd Mar 2020, 17:01
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Generally rationalisation, and to create a viable "third force" regional airline. Bear in mind the Dart Herald's days were numbered anyway, so concentrating on the F27 was a sensible move (apologies to any ex-Herald pilots)

It's pretty well covered here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AirUK
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Old 3rd Mar 2020, 20:48
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Thankyou Herod. It's interesting that British Midland appears to be overlooked as a significant player in 1980 but perhaps that company wasn't ramping up its Heathrow schedules at the time.
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Old 4th Mar 2020, 07:57
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I think we could probably say that there were effectively three airlines operating at that level. Dan Air, British Midland and AirUK. Each had their own operating strategy. Dan Air was doing a lot of IT work with the jets, Midland was concentrating on Heathrow, and AirUK was developing a network around UK, and of course increasing their contribution to KLM and Amsterdam.
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Old 4th Mar 2020, 10:29
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Curious as well that the newly-formed Air UK quickly ditched its jets at the same time as BMA was beginning to build up its DC9 fleet, as well as modernise its 707s to keep them in service for another four or five years. Also, 1980 was the year Dan Air finally pensioned off the Comet and began a slow acquisition of more modern jets in the form of 737s, more 727s and, a little later, the 146. Different strokes for different folks and all that.

I always enjoyed seeing the BIA and Air UK Heralds, especially when their numbers were decreasing in favour of additional F27s. I wonder if it would be fair to say that BIA got the better deal with the Air Anglia merger ? Their man got the top job and was able to immediately begin withdrawing his old bangers and later have the opportunity to reincarnate BIA and thus more or less carry on where he left off.
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Old 6th Mar 2020, 13:32
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In 1980 when the merger took place the f27s were the old bangers
The f27s in the fleet were built between 1959 and 1963.The Heralds between 1962 and 1964.
All of the f27s at that time were series 200 barring 1 100 so unsuitable for freight
All Heralds had large double doors at the back which made them perfect for freight. Air Uk
K inherited a lot of freight contracts from BIA including the Channel Islands neespaper runs.
The Herlds had very good utilisation



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Old 6th Mar 2020, 16:20
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However, the Heralds were phased out, and the F27 fleet increased to, I believe, 16 frames at its peak. BTW, the F27 was quite capable of newspaper runs. Been there, done that.
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Old 9th Mar 2020, 20:22
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Fair point about the Heralds actually being a few years younger than the F27s. However, the fact that their withdrawal was earlier and rather faster than that of their Dutch cousins does suggest they were not the preferred or superior type in the combined fleet. I also wasn't aware that Air UK did freight runs with the Heralds. Channel Express, of course, did so with both Heralds and F27s.
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Old 9th Mar 2020, 21:59
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Back in 1980, AirUK had an F27 sitting at East Midlands. During the day it did crew training. At night it was operated as a freighter, East Midlands-Amsterdam-Stansted. It would then sit at Stansted until some silly hour in the morning, waiting for the newspapers to arrive. Then it was back to Amsterdam, and finally East Midlands again.
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Old 10th Mar 2020, 10:03
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Southampton 1984. Photo credit Barry Friend.


https://www.airukreunion.co.uk/g-apw...herald-flight/
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Old 10th Mar 2020, 12:13
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Originally Posted by Mooncrest View Post
Thankyou, Groundloop. I kind of remembered there was some connection between Cayzer and B&C.
As one who worked for a brief period at Concorde House in Air UK ops, I remember that shipping movements were received on the teleprinter, since we were the only part of the group which worked 24 hours. I well remember receiving a telex to the effect that one of the ships had got into difficulties in Hong Kong and having to ring a senior being in B&C at about 3am to inform him of this.
Prior to this, I worked at BLK before they closed the base there, where Herald maintenance was undertaken. There were a couple of 'hangar queens' in the fleet, one of which was known as 'The Olympic Flame', because it never went out. The F-27s proved much more reliable,
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Old 10th Mar 2020, 18:44
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I well remember doing config. changes on the F27's at STN. All the seats out, into a Luton van, in the evening. Then all back in again, early morning, ready for the morning passenger schedules.
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Old 10th Mar 2020, 21:51
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The F-27s proved much more reliable,
Being a very simple aeroplane, there wasn't much to go wrong, although the pneumatics could catch some people out. I always considered it to be a "Ronseal" aeroplane. It "did what it said on the tin".
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Old 11th Mar 2020, 17:41
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The Herald was better suited to the freight role, the large rear doors and robust interior were an advantage over the F27. Towards the end of the Herald's working life the shortage of spares and lack of manufacturers support made maintaining the type rather challenging. I was one of the BIA engineers at Blackpool that moved down to Norwich on the formation of Air Uk. I spent around 20 years as a type rated LAE on both aircraft types, the F27 was a doddle to maintain, but I have very fond memories of the Herald despite the problems.
In the main the Herald operation was reasonably accident free with Channel Express, but we did have several bad incidents with the F27.
Back to the original OP question, two factors that I recall that may have prompted the parent Company to buy Air Anglia may have been the east coast routes and definitely the hangars and support shops at Norwich were far better than the old sheds at Blackpool.
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Old 11th Mar 2020, 17:46
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Originally Posted by Arthur Bellcrank View Post
The Herald was better suited to the freight role, the large rear doors and robust interior were an advantage over the F27. Towards the end of the Herald's working life the shortage of spares and lack of manufacturers support made maintaining the type rather challenging. I was one of the BIA engineers at Blackpool that moved down to Norwich on the formation of Air Uk. I spent around 20 years as a type rated LAE on both aircraft types, the F27 was a doddle to maintain, but I have very fond memories of the Herald despite the problems.
In the main the Herald operation was reasonably accident free with Channel Express, but we did have several bad incidents with the F27.
Back to the original OP question, two factors that I recall that may have prompted the parent Company to buy Air Anglia may have been the east coast routes and definitely the hangars and support shops at Norwich were far better than the old sheds at Blackpool.
Perfectly summed up, Arthur.
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Old 11th Mar 2020, 19:10
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Arthur, do you recall a run of Hydraulic Pipe Failures on the BIA Heralds circa 1976-77? It got beyond a joke and usually happened in the late mornings and more often than not the aircraft originated from Blackpool and would end up AOG in Exeter. It happened so often that from the Ops point of view it soon became a sort of head in hands job. The situation only being saved by some good station engineering and the splendid Skippers and their Crews who would agree to 'Go into Discretion'.
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Old 11th Mar 2020, 21:00
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I didn't join BIA until June 79 so this was a little before my time, however chaffed hydraulic pipes were an ongoing challenge, the problem area as I remember were the hydraulic lines that ran forward of the wing front spar to the nacelle, these powered the retraction jacks, sequence valves, brakes and gear door jacks, these used to chafe through with wing vibration, due to the length of the individual pipes replacement was a challenge so inline repair inserts were fitted, this made the problem worse due to the congested areas.
For an aircraft of this size the hydraulics were very complex, as well as leaks "rapid cycling" was a common problem, this was caused by internal component leaks which prevented the system from maintaining full pressure without a constant pressure supply, the main culprits for internal leaks were thermal relief valves and door jack actuators.
The F27 pneumatic system was far simpler, however was prone to freezing if the water drains were not religiously drained.
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Old 11th Mar 2020, 21:32
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I recall flying to Tunisia as a passenger with AirUK. The return flight was interesting as we left SFAX enroute to (I think) Gatwick the aircraft (BAC1-11) didnt climb as one would expect and the Captain advised us that there was an issue with cabin pressurisation so he was diverting to Tunis.
On landing at Tunis passengers were taken to the lounge to await the A/C being repaired. We could quite clearly see the aircraft on the apron and we watched as the Captain and FO got a set of ladders, climbed up, opened the engine cowling and pottered about with a spanner before closing it up, climbing down and shortly afterwards we reboarded. The Captain then told us that he thought he had fixed the issue and we were on our way.
He invited anyone interested to have a look in the cockpit so I went up and had a look. I joked that if he diverted again over the UK could he perhaps fly into Teesside airport to save us the train journey home. He pointed at the fuel gauges and said we will be lucky to divert anywhere as they wouldnt accept the credit card for fuel at Tunis. Im pretty sure he would have been joking but maybe not? Happy days around about 1980.
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