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Champion Air?

Sun Sep 14, 2003 1:18 pm

I remember when i lived in Texas one of the few remaining airlines that flew the 727 was Champion Air. (along with AA,DL,kitty hawk, Carnival airlines) I saw them part over why where BA and LH parked there planes at the gates but i never knew of them actually being an airline. So my question is are they an airline or a charter company? Are they still in operations?

One reason i do ask this is when i past the general aviation area the other day on my way back home to ORD (on an AA MD-80) I saw 3 of there 727's sitting there.
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RE: Champion Air?

Sun Sep 14, 2003 1:22 pm

Yes they are still in operation. I am not sure if they are a charter or a company, but I know they park in the delta gates. I flew on them from dfw-cun in June.

RE: Champion Air?

Sun Sep 14, 2003 1:28 pm

Champion Air is a charter airline, flying mostly for NW's MLT Vacations ( Until recently, NW owned a large interest in them. They still fly B727 -- most of them are former RC/NW birds.

RE: Champion Air?

Sun Sep 14, 2003 3:50 pm

As far as I know, Northwest owns Champion and operates them seperatly.
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RE: Champion Air?

Sun Sep 14, 2003 3:57 pm

Side note...don't they have the last pax 727 produced?
I got my head checked--by a jumbo jet
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RE: Champion Air?RE: Champion Air?

Sun Sep 14, 2003 8:44 pm

JBirdAV8r, yes they do. Champion Air was originally known as Front Page Tours. In 1995 they were reorganized by American Int'l using MGM Grand Air assets. In 2003 they were formally purchased by Northwest Airlines and the Pohland family. They have always been a charter operator.
In the Alaska bush I'd rather have a two hour bladder and three hours of gas than vice versa.
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RE: Champion Air?

Sun Sep 14, 2003 9:48 pm

I've seen them use Terminal 4 at JFK.
I've seen them at JFK not once.
How is their service, safety?
The livery makes them look second-rate.
And name
What now?
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RE: Champion Air?

Sun Sep 14, 2003 9:52 pm

They've chartered in/out of PVD in the recent past...
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RE: Champion Air?

Sun Sep 14, 2003 10:41 pm

Side note...don't they have the last pax 727 produced?

Don't know about the last pax version, but the last 727 went to FedEx in 1984.
I'm not a real aeronautical engineer, I just play one on
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RE: Champion Air?

Sun Sep 14, 2003 10:57 pm

Champion Air is no longer owned by Northwest Airlines.
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RE: Champion Air?

Sun Sep 14, 2003 11:47 pm

I stand corrected Bob. I forgot that Champion executives bought the company from Northwest and Carl Pohland this summer.
In the Alaska bush I'd rather have a two hour bladder and three hours of gas than vice versa.
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RE: Champion Air?

Mon Sep 15, 2003 1:05 am


Although I haven't flown them myself, I've heard a lot of complaints about Champion Air. Their service is supposedly pretty bad but you can't expect too much from a charter airline. However, if you compare them to the airlines that TransGlobal (the other charter operator at MSP) there is a big difference. Ryan Air Intl., the airline who did most of TransGlobal's air charters last year; has new aircraft, friendly flight attendants, and free small snacks and drinks on their flights (I have flown them).

The biggest complaints I've heard from them have been about the reliability of their B727s. There have even been a couple of incidents that have even made the newspapers in the Twin Cities.

Here's an article from the Star Tribune from earlier this year:
Jamaica charter trip became nightmare (03/25/03)
Volunteers in a Minnesota-based social services group fidgeted in their seats last year as their Jamaica-bound jet made an emergency detour to St. Louis because its windshield cracked.

That three-hour delay now seems minor to "Mission Jamaica" members. Some of the same volunteers' return home last month from another pilgrimage to the island nation became a 38-hour travel horror story.

Their charter airline trip was marred by mechanical delays, a scary emergency landing in which a falling ceiling panel struck a passenger in the head and a six-hour flight home to the Twin Cities without so much as a drink of water.

"It was . . . Murphy's Law in motion," said Dr. Neal Olson, a Lake City, Minn., pediatrician, invoking the rule that whatever can go wrong will go wrong - and in the case of charter operator Champion Air went utterly haywire.

The travelers learned the risks of flying a small carrier whose older fleet of 13 Boeing 727s includes no backup planes, forcing it to instead rely on other airlines for help.

Champion spokesman Jon Austin called the episode the Twin Cities- based charter carrier's worst customer service failure since it was taken over in 1997 by Minnesota Twins owner Carl Pohlad and his minority partner, Northwest Airlines. Austin said Champion normally does "a marvelous job" in meeting customer expectations.

"This sequence of events stands out in contrast," he said, particularly citing Champion's failure to keep passengers informed of developments.

Northwest-owned MLT Vacations, which sold the travel packages, is disbursing $200 and $300 travel vouchers to more than 300 passengers aboard two affected flights, Austin said.

Elizabeth Isham Cory, a spokeswoman for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), said the agency is investigating hydraulics failures that twice idled the Champion jet.

But Betty Gruenewald, an official of Mahtomedi-based Mission Jamaica, said the group will stop using MLT to arrange trips to Jamaica for nearly 500 people annually if Champion is the air carrier.

While weather frequently delays flights, Austin said serious mechanical problems are rare, and the odds are minuscule that two different mechanical failures would tie up a plane on successive flights.

On the weekend of Feb. 22-23, a 23-year-old 727 operated by Champion beat the odds.

Overnight in Orlando

The Rev. Paul Hammarberg, pastor at St. Andrew Lutheran Church in Eden Prairie, said his group of Mission Jamaica volunteers were among 150 passengers who left the Twin Cities at 9 a.m. Friday, Feb. 21, on a flight to Montego Bay. They were to relieve colleagues who had worked at an orphanage, a school and a medical clinic, caring for the poor.

But the plane first flew to Orlando, arriving at about 1:15 p.m. for what the FAA described as a refueling necessitated by high winds.

Meanwhile, at Sangster International Airport near Montego Bay, 162 passengers were arriving for their 3:30 p.m. flight home aboard the same plane.

In Orlando, Hammarberg said, passengers soon were told that a seemingly failed sensor in the cockpit had led mechanics to a nose- gear hydraulics problem. After waiting in the plane for 90 minutes, he said, the passengers spent about two hours in a holding room without air conditioning, food or water before being allowed to walk about. At about 9 p.m. they were told that the flight was being put off until Sunday, Feb. 23, Hammarberg said.

He said Champion distributed vouchers for drinks and stays at two respectable hotels, but passengers did not get their luggage until nearly midnight.

Meanwhile, the 49 homeward-bound Mission Jamaica volunteers returned to their hotel because their replacements had not arrived. But in peak tourist season, many of the other 113 people were diverted to lower-class hotels in Negril, an hour away.

One couple told of finding a mouse in their bed, said Vicki Prohovnik, a Mission Jamaica volunteer from Rice Lake, Wis. "He had chewed through the pillow," she said.

Others said they felt lucky that their rooms only had bugs.

The flight home early Sunday afternoon was in the air less than 30 minutes when the pilot announced that the hydraulics were malfunctioning, necessitating a return to Montego Bay. Austin said the 727 has three "redundant" hydraulics systems, though they do not overlap perfectly.

Flight attendants posted able-bodied men in the emergency-exit rows.

Olson said he wondered, "What else can happen?"

Unable to fully use flaps and slats that give a plane lift at lower speeds, the pilot came in over the water fast, Austin said. With fire and emergency trucks lined up, the plane hit the runway so hard that a tire blew before it rolled to a stop at the very end of the pavement, he said. Flight attendants burst into applause.

Besides a young woman who held an ice pack to her head after being hit by a falling ceiling panel, another jittery woman was hyperventilating. A few others sobbed.

For a second day, the travelers were given food-and-drink vouchers. But Olson, who teaches pediatrics at the Mayo Medical School in Rochester, said the vouchers had to be picked up at the other end of the airport.

"I went through security seven times in two days," he said.

At 9 p.m., the passengers finally boarded a plane operated by Miami-based Falcon Air Express, a charter company with which Champion has a "mutual aid pact" for emergencies, Austin said. But, he said, Champion officials failed to sign off on catering for the flight. En route home, the passengers were given no food or drink, not even water.

At 3:19 a.m. Monday, Feb. 24, about 38 hours after showing up for their flight, the weary travelers clambered off the plane at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. Some from as far away as North Dakota and Iowa faced long car trips home.

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RE: Champion Air?

Mon Sep 15, 2003 1:08 am

MCO ops w/ 727s. Caribbean & MSP.
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RE: Champion Air?

Mon Sep 15, 2003 5:00 am

I see em' everyday at MSP. I used to dislike them because there were tons of airlines operating them at MSP, now whenever I see one I'm ecstatic.

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RE: Champion Air?

Mon Sep 15, 2003 7:04 am


Agreed on the livery. It sure does not do the 727 justice. Plus, I bet those planes have seen better days. One nice thing is they are one of the last, if not the last, operators of 727s into MSP. For that reason alone, I will not complain about them being around. You gotta love the sound and smoke.

Topic Author
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RE: Champion Air?

Mon Sep 15, 2003 7:33 am

Well sucks for Champion Air about all those complants, oh well they do it to themselves i guess.

They dont fly to ORD or MDW i dont think so i was currious as to if they still fly. Thanks for the info guys.

Good to still be able to catch a 727 coming in everynow and then. I use to never care now i go crazy when i see a FedEx, Emery, DHL come into ORD.
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RE: Champion Air?

Mon Sep 15, 2003 7:39 am

I have flown them several times; 2x RT's DFW-CUN, once DFW-LAS, and couple of others I cannot now recall. Nothing exceptional, but I always found the cabin staff to be efficient and (usually) a lot of fun.

Aircraft ranged from routinely comfortable to kinda ratty. Nothing disgusting, though.

And yes, they do have the last passenger 727 produced, N697CA. It was (when I flew on her in March, 2001) very tired inside.

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Photo © Jorgos Tsambikakis

Also, note that the livery is a quick and dirty derivative of the MGM Grand Air livery, from which airline CA derives its existence, as well as its IATA identifier, MG.

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Photo © Andy Vanderheyden

...three miles from BRONS, clear for the ILS one five approach...
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RE: Champion Air?

Mon Sep 15, 2003 8:20 am

I guess Champion Air has a tremendous presence in AS / KLAS), USA - Nevada">LAS. I was just there this weekend and I saw six to seven of them arrive this morning. I saw one ex-EA and one ex-AS airplane in Champion's fleet this morning.

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