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UK Charter Airlines - how did crewing for the regional airports work ?

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UK Charter Airlines - how did crewing for the regional airports work ?

Old 3rd Nov 2020, 19:48
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UK Charter Airlines - how did crewing for the regional airports work ?

In the days when the 737-200 was THE holiday jet (although not the only one, I concede), airlines such as Britannia, Air Europe, Monarch, Orion, Dan-Air, British Airtours and Air UK Leisure operated from their main bases as well as smaller regionals like Aberdeen and Leeds Bradford. Being part of 'W' patterns, how did the airlines sort out pilots and cabin crew for the regional departures ? I think I'm right in saying that most of Britannia's crews for the regionals were from Luton, meaning their aircraft had to return there on its fourth leg. With Monarch also being Luton-based, did they do likewise or utilise their Manchester base for this purpose ? Also, did the crews get flown from base to regional or put in taxis or company transport ? Hotels when away from base or rented accommodation ? Lots of potential expense (recovered likely from holiday supplements).

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Old 3rd Nov 2020, 23:21
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Britannia and Orion used to fly crews up to Teesside in Cessna twins G-BRIT for one.
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Old 4th Nov 2020, 02:38
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From my time with Monarch which was back in the mid eighties:
1. W patterns. OR
2. A small contingent of locally based Flight Deck crew whose numbers were increased in High Season either by LTN crews being put up in a hotel for a few days, or by crews from LTN doing temporary basings for a few months.
In my case I did one GLA and two LGW temporary basings.
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Old 4th Nov 2020, 07:42
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Thankyou both. Daft of me not to remember that Britannia and Orion both had Cessna twins for crew transport. Probably not as useful an option when Britannia obtained a Mooney to replace the 421.
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Old 4th Nov 2020, 08:22
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Britannia used to have something known as a "long haul check " which entailed brakes / wheels all having plenty of meat on them for " xx " days / flights away from a base, also sufficient oil in the hold so the aircraft could be operated without engineering support...until something requiring engineers arose that is. That, and certain taxi firms did very well carrying crews around the UK.
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Old 4th Nov 2020, 09:43
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Air Europe used chartered KingAirs, Chieftains and also Hallmark minibuses.
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Old 4th Nov 2020, 10:46
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In some cases it had to do with the duty day. You could leave Manchester for example, coach toTeeside, and still have enough duty hours to go to southern Spain.

So the aeroplane left Manchester early for rotation to Spain and the W destination, landing there around mid day. You left Manchester by coach with a crew mid morning and arrived at the W, to pick up the aeroplane and fly the second rotation. This gave 2 to 3 hours coach, and 8 hours to Spain and back, or an 11 hour duty day with 2 sectors. No problemo.

The coach at the W would then take the early crew back to base.

But if the W was a Canary or Cyprus, then it would be a position to the W the night before. Usually the coach stayed at the W, and when the inbound crew landed the next afternoon, it would take them back to Manchester. A long duty day for them, but it was after flying and was usually compensated for by an increase in the required rest period. This also happened if the UK part of the W was over 4 hours from your base.

There was to my recollection very little positioning by air after the crash in Glasgow, and in later years when we had to start and compete with the low cost carriers. There was also the problem when the work horse became the 757 (and 767 long haul W patterns) since there was a crew of at least 7 and some times 9 or 10. Air taxi seats and payloads were pushed with 8 crew, their flight bags, and suitcases. Anyone who has travelled with a female cabin crew to a night stop will remember what that could weigh!!

Even positioning by schedule airline was significantly more expensive than a coach when crews of that number were involved.
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Old 4th Nov 2020, 12:06
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Sometime in the mid-80s, on a thoroughly foul winter afternoon, I was joined on a train ex-Kings Cross by a Britannia crew who spent the first bit of the journey amending their Jepps. They left at NCL.
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Old 4th Nov 2020, 15:34
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Thankyou all. I expect being a taxi driver with airport/airline contacts was quite lucrative at one time. The idea of the Hallmark coaches sounds familiar too. Do TUI have their own fleet of crew vehicles and drivers ? I've often seen smart but unmarked Mercedes cars and people carriers at LBA when they've had flights passing through.
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Old 4th Nov 2020, 16:45
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You are right that in the 80s the majority of Britannia pilots were at LTN, with some at MAN, BHX and LGW. There were also cabin crew at NCL and GLA. At one time, there were so many flights out of NCL that Hallmark ran a daily coach, usually with 20+ crew members on board, to the crew hotel there. Positioning to GLA was usually by air, either BA from LHR or BMA from EMA. Accommodation away from base was in hotels. Travel to airports within a sensible distance was by taxi or coach, as described by a previous poster.
Most of that ended when there was a major policy change around 1990, putting crews where the flying was, with the intention of eliminating much crew travel and hotac. The claim (!!) from the tour operators was that they could give 3 years notice of changing base requirements. Yes, sure. Of course that never happened. The rebasing caused huge turbulence and much resentment, for reasons I won't bore you with. But.... the MD was an accountant, and he got his cost savings, allegedly.
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Old 4th Nov 2020, 18:05
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Thankyou ken. Considering the number of airports Britannia used (lots) compared to the number of crew bases they had (few), their hotel and transport bills must have been significant, to say the least. I suppose in the case of Orion, sending crews to Leeds Bradford from East Midlands was relatively cheap, provided the crews weren't operating four sector duties and didn't have to be changed in the first place.
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Old 4th Nov 2020, 22:52
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Quite a lot of the early days Orion W patterns into LBA were crewed from LGW. There would be a Hallmark VW Caravelle people mover sitting outside the airport to meet the aircraft.

BIA used the British Midland DC9/ATP Saturday schedule on LBA-LHR to move crews for the Arrowsmith LBA-PMI BAC1-11 which was a W pattern from LGW. They had Island Elf but it was rarely used to support this operation.

Some other airlines used train services - the days of legend often saw one of the crew providing on-train catering for their colleagues positioning for duty. The return trip post-duty was often accompanied by suitable quantities of "bus juice" - probably best left to history to explain.

The logistics of this must have been horrendous by today's low-cost airline standards.

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Old 5th Nov 2020, 13:03
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Britannia LTN based pilots (and cabin crew) often positioned to outstations in Hallmark taxis. The old lags joked: "Join Britannia Airways and see Britain by Road."

Occasionally positioning LTN-NCL was by train - 1st class - from Stevenage, cheaper than Hallmarking apparently.

Last edited by Discorde; 6th Nov 2020 at 12:32. Reason: minor change
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Old 5th Nov 2020, 20:09
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Hallmark and British Rail must have made a fortune.
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Old 6th Nov 2020, 10:40
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The direct costs of travel and hotac were considerable, but there was also the indirect cost of using duty days to travel instead of flying on revenue services. I don't have figures, but I suspect the last point may have been the biggest cost. The objective of the revised crew basing plan in the 90s was to eliminate all those costs and wasted duties - to a large extent it did. Part of the intention was also to end W-pattern trips, but that was not wholly achieved, not least because the spread of business over the country was in a constant state of flux. And still is, even without Covid.
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Old 6th Nov 2020, 12:00
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An Air Europe B757 Crew from Gatwick to Cardiff.

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Old 7th Nov 2020, 05:37
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Air Europe doing it in style. Is the aircraft a Beech Queen Air ?
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Old 7th Nov 2020, 08:05
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Beechcraft 65-B80 Queen Air G-BSSL owned by Parker and Heard Ltd
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Old 7th Nov 2020, 09:11
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Parker & Heard had several Queenairs based at Biggin, usually parked on Express Aviation's western ramp, wondered what they used them for! Loved the sound those old bombers made taking off...
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Old 8th Nov 2020, 19:52
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Originally Posted by Flightrider View Post
Quite a lot of the early days Orion W patterns into LBA were crewed from LGW. There would be a Hallmark VW Caravelle people mover sitting outside the airport to meet the aircraft.
In the early 1980s I recall Orion crews used to stay at the Britannia Hotel in central Manchester, so even if they had a crew base there they seemed to have itinerant ones as well. My office window over the street overlooked the entrance, from where I would very regularly see them leaving in uniform for the airport - in a black cab. Two pilots on the tip-up seats, three FAs on the back seat. Pretty economical way to travel (don't know about the hotac expense).

A 1980s VW minibus doesn't sound the best way to travel from LBA to Gatwick at the end of a duty. Or were they being taken to Leeds station ?
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