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London European & FR History  
User currently offlineYVRLTN From Canada, joined Oct 2006, 2547 posts, RR: 0
Posted (6 years 11 months 3 weeks 13 hours ago) and read 2836 times:

Does anyone remember London European Airways (LEA)?? They operated from LTN to BRU & AMS and as far as I can tell started around May 1985. They went head to head with an already established LTN carrier named Euroflite, who as a result were then awarded RTM by the British CAA and LEA got AMS instead of Euroflite. At the last minute the CAA overturned this decision and allowed Euroflite to keep the AMS route, it would seem as a result of an appeal against LEA by Euroflite. However, their intention was to have the route to themselves, not share it with LEA and competition got fierce. The route could not sustain both operators and LEA then took over Euroflite by spring 1986 - I believe they bought them off their parent company McAlpine Aviation.

It seems LEA operated a Viscount (Im guessing leased from BAF, anyone know??) and was making two roundtrips a day to the Netherlands. They also applied for licenses to Paris & FRA, which I understand never happened. Euroflite operated a Jetstream, which I gather was leased from McAlpine and I believe LEA replaced it with a Shorts 330, around October 1986 and used it on the LTN-BRU route. The other aircraft (I assume the Viscount) operated the AMS route and overnighted there and I believe operated RTM in between too.

As well as getting competition from new Dutch airline Netherlines with a Jetstream (and later a Saab 340), the takeover of Euroflite was a huge drain on the young carrier LEA's resources. The CAA became aware of what they believed was instability an suspended their AOC. LEA then had no option but to cease operations, I would assume this was towards the close of 1986.

Meanwhile, a new airline named Ryanair switched to LTN from LGW after about the first 8 months of its operation - I believe this was also during 1985. They operated two HS748's bought from Dan Air and operated 25 DUB and 6 WAT weekly returns, and later added NOC. By September 1986, they had moved 50,000 pax through LTN. FR then acquired Romanian built RomBAC 111's from RO and operated them on the LTN-DUB route from October 1986, offering significant advantages over EI into LHR.

It then seems around the turn of 1986/1987 that a group of private investors, led by the Ryan family, mounted a rescue bid for LEA and both airlines ended up with common directors. LEA was resurrected, also using a RomBAC 111, I assume wet leased from FR - I have a photo of it in full LEA colors, seems to be YR-BBF or E and is named 'The Spirit of Europe'. The plan seemed to be to use LTN as a hub and for LEA to operate flights to Europe to connect with FR's flights to Ireland, taking advantage of the deregulation in Europe. The whole plan seemed to be surrounded in controversy and while it received huge media backing, it received strong opposition from SN, KL, BA & BD. FR acquired 85% of LEA and by May 1987 resumed LTN - BRU & AMS services as Ryanair Europe. However load factors were poor at around 45% (I suppose a 111 was a big capacity hike from a Viscount & SH330 + the Netherlines competition on the AMS route) and AMS was dropped by the end of 1987. BRU was dropped soon after, mainly due to the ongoing action by their LHR rivals I believe. It then seems LEA was gone forever and FR stuck to doing what they did best for the next few years, LTN - Ireland. 10 years later and a different story of course.... its also interesting to note that in 1987 VS also started a LTN - DUB service with Viscounts leased from BAF. I dont have any dates, but I believe this was a pretty short lived venture too.

If anyone has any more information and can correct any of the above, that would be very much appreciated. I bet many dont know that FR operated into Europe as long ago as 1987  Smile

Follow me on twitter for YVR movements @vernonYVR
6 replies: All unread, jump to last
User currently offlineSevenair From United Kingdom, joined Feb 2001, 1728 posts, RR: 0
Reply 1, posted (6 years 11 months 3 weeks 11 hours ago) and read 2796 times:

On Ryanair.com - there is a good timeline about them - under the 'About Us' section. It is a really good read! Another interesting fact, is that they used to have Business Class! Wikipedia also has a good article about FR.

User currently offlineDstc47 From Ireland, joined Sep 1999, 1490 posts, RR: 3
Reply 2, posted (6 years 11 months 3 weeks 10 hours ago) and read 2766 times:

Ryanair, in the guise of London European, operated to London from Brussels (Zaventem) until at least 1989 or so - I recall flying with them when I lived there. Due to weather at BRU, we were bussed to Ostende, as the RomBac 111 had less weather tolerant procedures than the 737's going in and out of BRU, to the great annoyance of other passengers, making my one and only use of Ostend airport. At that time Air Europe also competed out of BRU to LGW, so prices were good for that less competitive time for air travel.

User currently offlineYVRLTN From Canada, joined Oct 2006, 2547 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (6 years 11 months 2 weeks 6 days 14 hours ago) and read 2574 times:

Quoting Dstc47 (Reply 2):
I recall flying with them when I lived there

Was the service, seat pitch etc comparable to FR today or other LCC operations??

Interestingly, with the huge growth of U2, FR and the rest at LTN, there is still no BRU service. Any ideas why?? I guess Eurostar, but U2 fly to CDG - and CB and BA Cityflyer before them.

Back in the day, before LEA, the local councillors decided they needed an air service from LTN to BRU and contracted Cabair Air Taxis to operate the flight with a 6 seater (I assume a PA23 or PA31), which met huge opposition from BA for some reason (no one new why apart from BA who wouldnt say...) but went ahead anyway.

Follow me on twitter for YVR movements @vernonYVR
User currently offlineDstc47 From Ireland, joined Sep 1999, 1490 posts, RR: 3
Reply 4, posted (6 years 11 months 2 weeks 6 days 10 hours ago) and read 2545 times:

Do not recall any in flight service or catering, but it was a pretty short hop anyhow. Seat pitch was similar to Ryanair Bac 111, there may have been a business section also but I was in economy.

User currently offlineBCAL From United Kingdom, joined Jun 2004, 3384 posts, RR: 15
Reply 5, posted (6 years 11 months 2 weeks 5 days 11 hours ago) and read 2397 times:

Quoting Dstc47 (Reply 2):
Ryanair, in the guise of London European, operated to London from Brussels (Zaventem) until at least 1989 or so

In 1986 Ryanair's ambitions to get a foothold in the continental market were thwarted by the Irish Government's willingness to protect Aer Lingus from competition, and refusal to grant Ryanair new route licences to Paris and Amsterdam. Frustrated by this Tony Ryan had dabbled with European expansion by paying GBP 630,000 for an 85 per cent stake in struggling Luton-based London European Airways in late 1986. Ryanair's original intention was to run LEA and Ryanair separately, with Cathal Ryan at the helm of the new UK operation. At that time Cathal Ryan also set up Ryanair UK, which was registered in the UK and authorised by the UK's CAA, but the airline remained dormant for several years.

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Photo © Johan Ljungdahl
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Photo © Gerard Helmer

In January 1988, however, LEA was relaunched as Ryanair Europe, and began to cooperate with FR, allowing it to sell services from Dublin through to Brussels using LTN as a hub. Despite a steady trickle of FR passengers, Ryanair's Europe's attempts to start profitable services from London to Amsterdam and Brussels foundered quickly and the airline limped to eventual closure at the start of 1989.

In October 1995 the EU announced plans to bring in new rules that would grant foreign airlines cabotage to operate domestic flights in another country. MOL seized the opportunity to stir up the market - and do it noisily - by competing head-on with BA and BMI, and the train operating companies, on the routes between London and the two major Scottish cities of Glasgow and Edinburgh where fares were kept excessively high. MOL took a 45 per cent stake in Ryanair UK, appointing Tim Jeans as Ryanair's only British senior manager and launched services between STN and Prestwick on 26 October 1995. That was the start of FR's UK expansion.

MOL on SRB's latest attack at BA: "It's like a little Chihuahua barking at a dying Labrador. Nobody cares."
User currently offlineVV701 From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2005, 7737 posts, RR: 17
Reply 6, posted (6 years 11 months 2 weeks 5 days 5 hours ago) and read 2330 times:

Quoting YVRLTN (Thread starter):
It seems LEA operated a Viscount (Im guessing leased from BAF, anyone know??)

LEA bought VV806 G-LOND from BAF in February 1985.

This aircraft was originally delivered to BEA as G-AOYI in January 1958. It was transferred to associate airline Cambrian in July 1970 and was operated by BA from the formation of the airline in September 1973 until it was withdrawn from use in April 1980. Here it is pictured while in service with Cambrian and then BA:

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Photo © Peter Seemann
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Photo © Eduard Marmet

It was bought by BAF and leased for a few months to Esso Standard Oil in late 1981 and then to Occidental Oil of Libya for almost all of 1982. After being returned to BAF it was used by BAF Air Tours before being leased to Guernsey Airlines in August 1983 where it was operated in the then BAF livery but with the lessor's titles:

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Photo © Hans Resch

It was returned to BAF in February 1984 and operated by them until it was bought by LEA in February 1985:

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Photo © Johan Ljungdahl

It was withdrawn from use and parked at EXT in February 1986 but was sold the following month to Caicos International Airways and was then leased by BAF in April of that year. Returned to Caicos in February 1987 it was again leased by BAF for two months in July of that year. On return to Caicos in that September it was parked at SEN:

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Photo © JetPix

where it remained until being broken up in February 1993.

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