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British Midland Airways, Leeds Bradford to Glasgow flights

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British Midland Airways, Leeds Bradford to Glasgow flights

Old 7th Jan 2021, 21:34
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British Midland Airways, Leeds Bradford to Glasgow flights

LBA - GLA is a route that's had its share of operators over the years. BMA flew it for a spell in the early 1970s, Dan-Air took it on in 1972 and held it until 1984 when it was passed on to their associate company, Metropolitan Airways. After Metropolitan ceased trading, Brown Air/Capital flew the route until they too went down the pan, in 1990. This is where it gets more interesting. Loganair quickly stepped in after Capital's demise to operate the route on an initial temporary basis but this was made permanent before too long. In common with many of Loganair's English routes from Scotland, GLA - LBA was transferred to sister company, Manx Airlines (Europe). Between them, Loganair and Manx operated the Shorts 360, Jetstream 31 and 41 and ATP on the route, the ATP most latterly. I guess passenger figures were healthy to warrant the ATP flying a relatively short route. After about 18 months, the route changed hands once more - full circle back to British Midland, the third 'Airlines of Britain' brand. However, the aircraft used were actually Manx Airlines' ATPs MANL and MAUD and newcomer J41 MAJA, all painted in British Midland livery but flown by Manx pilots with BMA cabin crew. The aircraft of the moment was also then based at LBA from then on and the route stayed with British Midland for many years afterwards. Currently, there are no scheduled services between Leeds Bradford and Scotland.

My question is, what prompted the change of airline/brand from Manx to British Midland ? At this time - spring 1995 IIRC - BMA was flying only between LBA and LHR year round and flying to Jersey in the summer season. Was Sir Bishop trying to boost the presence of his top brand at LBA ? If so, it was a half-hearted way of going about it by using another of his brands to actually do the business, although the passengers probably never noticed. On the other hand, the tie-up between Manx and BA as British Airways Express was kicking off so maybe that was significant.

Thankyou.
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Old 8th Jan 2021, 09:06
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PS. Loganair did come back on GLA - LBA more recently ( after British Midland had cleared off for good) but it didn't last very long.
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Old 8th Jan 2021, 10:36
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I don't know whether it helps but I flew LBA -GLA on 27/10/92 on Loganair Jetstream 31 G-LOGU in 44 minutes. Flight number was LG296. Anorak mode off.
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Old 8th Jan 2021, 12:29
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The flight numbers stayed the same from the original Loganair operation, through Manx and BMA then back to Loganair in recent years. 44 minutes is quite a respectable flight time but the Embraer 135 and 145 did the trip in 35 minutes.

I wonder if BMA had to formally apply for the route licence to take over from Manx or if the transfer was enabled under the Airlines of Britain umbrella ?
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Old 10th Jan 2021, 17:48
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From memory, LBA was seen as British Midland territory and so it was fine for Manx Airlines Europe or Loganair to fly the route BUT when Manx Airlines Europe flew under the British Airways Express banner, that was tanks on the lawn territory, a step too far. Remember it was the original JE/MNX that flew into LHR, not BA/MXE which stayed out of Midland's way. I think this one route was a uncomfortably close to breaking the Chinese Walls of competition with the Airlines of Britain group against BA.
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Old 10th Jan 2021, 19:37
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That's pretty much it.

British Midland flew the Luton-East Midlands-Leeds-Glasgow and various combinations of the routing before Dan-Air then took on Leeds-Glasgow with the HS748, linked to a Bristol and Cardiff "Link City" service. The HS748s were too costly to operate, so along with others including Bournemouth-Birmingham-Manchester-Newcastle, several routes were flown by Metropolitan - latterly under their own brand with a grey and blue "very 80s" look on the Shorts 330s before they ceased operations.

Brown Air then took on LBA-GLA with a leased Shorts 330 (G-BEEO) in probably the ugliest colour scheme anyone had thought up before or since.

The decision was taken for the 330 to be handed back, and to put the Gulfstream 1 (G-BRWN) on a Leeds-Glasgow-Leeds-Cardiff routing in 1986, when the routes from Leeds to Oslo and Frankfurt were discontinued. The re-branding of Brown Air to become Capital then followed, along with the first Shorts 360-300 (G-BNDM) and the subsequent boom and bust of Capital.

When the airline failed in mid 1990, Loganair applied for, and was granted, a temporary licence by the CAA to pick up LBA-Glasgow from 2 July 1990. It flew a 2 x daily Shorts 360 service which later went up to 3 x daily (with a nightstop in LBA for some time) and then a Jetstream 31 operating the mid-afternoon LC295/296 service.

Route licensing disappeared in 1992.

When the big Airlines of Britain re-organisation took place, the route was amongst those which would have moved from Loganair to Manx Airlines Europe and ultimately into the franchise. However, Michael Bishop was not happy with BA branding appearing in what he saw as British Midland territory at Leeds Bradford, so the second round of British Midland operating LBA-GLA began, initially with Jetstream 41 G-MAJA and then with British Midland ATPs deployed at different times. This progressed through to a British Midland Regional Embraer operation with LBA-GLA, LBA-EDI, LBA-CDG and LBA-JER as the core routes with a few others including BRU, ORK, CPH and LIL attempted over time.

British Midland pulled out of the LBA base in 2012. The financial crisis in 2008/9 had undermined the economics of LBA-EDI in particular, and traffic on both routes had dropped hugely. Loganair picked up the route again immediately when British Midland dropped it in May 2012 and flew it for just over five years (so not a bad run!) as a Flybe franchise, dropping it as the transition to Loganair's independent operations began in September 2017.




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Old 10th Jan 2021, 20:16
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Thankyou Skipness and Flightrider. I suspected that the looming BA branding with Manx Airlines (Europe) might have prompted a change of airline and basing the aircraft at LBA, within what you describe as LBA territory. Ironically, just over a year later, MXE (as BA Express) had become established at LBA in their own right as they based two J31s to operate the former Knight Air routes. In another year's time, the 31s were replaced with 41s and eventually became four in number. At a similar time, the ATPs were returned to MXE and the ex-Business Air Saabs picked up the LBA Scottish routes as BM Commuter. The J41, MAJA, stayed with British Midland for a little longer before too returning to Manx and being repainted in the classic Manx Airlines livery.

As a sidenote, although MANL and MAUD were the de facto British Midland ATPs, it was occasionally necessary to send a replacement aircraft, usually because the incumbents were tech. More often than not, BRLY and BUUP did the honours but, one time, a MXE ATP in full BA Landor livery turned up to operate the British Midland routes! I don't recall this happening again but I'd be interested to know if Sir Bishop heard about it!
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Old 10th Jan 2021, 20:50
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I would be fairly certain that SMB probably did hear, and a suitably volcanic eruption followed - which is why it only happened the once! Little escaped him and between him and Jon Wolfe in particular, the grip of the organisation (grasp may be a kinder word?) was near-total. Stuart Balmforth, the third musketeer, was always rather more sociable. That's before you get onto one or two other eclectic characters of the day, including one complete sociopath who was the airline's Commercial Director for a time. He was the type of individual with whom today's world of HR grievances and mental health awareness would [rightly] catch up very quickly.

As you say, it didn't stop the ultimate BA arrival in LBA. The post-Knight Air LBA J31 then J41 base was quite a structure in its day, with a highly respected but nonetheless tough task-master as Base Captain.

The irony of all of this seems to be that LBA's best prospects of rebuilding a domestic network seem to rest with the present-day operator of G-MAJA and its sisterships.



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Old 10th Jan 2021, 21:21
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I suppose that when Manx did the franchise thing with BA at the same time that a few of its aircraft were operating flights for a close rival - British Midland - it was only a matter of time before a conflict of interests occurred. I guess that's what we saw with the BA-coloured ATP doing BM's work on that likely single occasion. The perils of getting into bed with the opposition! This episode may or may not have prompted SMB to buy Business Air in order to have suitable regional aircraft on the lighter BM routes. BM were, by this time, also flying to Paris from Leeds and Edinburgh too.

To diverge slightly, before the DC9s were disposed of, one of them operated regularly between Leeds and Glasgow, probably before the Business Air Saabs came along. Some years later, Fokker 100s were used between Leeds and Glasgow, Edinburgh and Paris, before BM disposed of them and before the Embraers came along. I remember some very healthy passenger loads on all three services. How grand it would be if Eastern or Loganair (or even FlyBe II) could be similarly successful for Leeds. MAJA has been based at LBA, on and off, for most of her life but I wouldn't like to think any future domestic network would be built around her ilk. Better than nothing but not ideal nowadays.
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Old 10th Jan 2021, 22:37
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British Midland basically bought Business Air for the amount of money that they considered it would cost them to bash Business Air off EMA-EDI at the time, where they were competing heavily. Although it put the British Midland brand into Manchester in a meaningful way, I don't believe the acquisition at the time was any more or less strategic than that.

And yes, I do recall a short outing of DC9s and Fokkers on the LBA domestic routes. Didn't last too long if I remember - but that may have been market-led such as through the financial crash and downturn rather than it having been a misadventure to begin with. The LBA operation was helped by having the strong summer weekend presence on LBA-JER backed by Wallace Arnold (as were EMA-JER and LTN-JER) when British Midland picked up the LBA-JER route after Dan-Air ceased. Dan were running 737-200s and BAe146-300s on that in the final year or two, with some fairly big tour operator commitments tied up with coaching operations back in the day. It's a far cry from today's LBA-JER presence, but then again, I suppose you could say that of many UK regional airports.
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Old 11th Jan 2021, 11:24
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I sometimes feel I could write a book on all that I've seen in civil aviation over the decades.
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Old 11th Jan 2021, 20:18
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"The Adventures of GWLAD" could probably merit their own chapter!
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Old 11th Jan 2021, 21:22
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WLAD has been discussed on here a few times and I'm still not clear why she was leased-in in the first place and for a relatively long period of time ( about eighteen months before being passed on to Manx). LBA only had the DC9 on the Heathrow for one season - it's as if it was snatched away at the earliest possible moment. I wonder if Gordon Dennison was forewarned about the impending arrival of WLAD and what he thought of it ?
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Old 11th Jan 2021, 22:07
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I don't think GD really had a lot of choice in the matter. British Midland needed more DC9s at the time but couldn't get hold of more DC9-32s as they had wished. G-WLAD came in and was put on the shortest jet sector in the route structure and a "self-isolated" schedule which also wasn't in competition with BA 757s. It was either MME or LBA, and LBA got the 1-11 then MME got the TEA 737 not long afterwards (which used to do a double-drop on the BD337/338 Heathrow on Saturdays via Leeds). Teesside also had a Balair (Swiss) DC9-32 on MME-LHR for a time as well, but I think that was probably 1984/85 so before G-WLAD - that must have been the early days after the Viscounts left.

Both routes switched back to permanent DC9 operation once the next three DC9-32s (PKBD, PKBE and PKBM) had arrived. If I recall correctly, the last three DC9-32s to roll in were the ex-Austrian three, ELDG/H/I.

The noise complaints about GWLAD on the BD411 probably set LBA back at a pretty sensitive time with the H24 application, but in fairness, there were plenty of other 1-11 movements with Dan-Air, BIA, Adria/Tarom and (for a time) Air UK with the 1-11-400 (G-AXMU and G-AXOX) on Leeds-Amsterdam. Those always seemed noisier than G-WLAD.

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