englandair
Posts: 2193
Joined: Tue Oct 10, 2000 4:34 am

Why Did BD Stop Longhaul In The 80s?

Sun Mar 04, 2001 6:11 am

This year, as most of you know, British Midland (now BMI British Midland) will begin daily scheduled services between Manchester International and Chicago & Washington. But it won't be the first time BD have flown longhaul.
Their last transatlantic flight though was 18 years ago with B707s.
But why did they stop and what routes were flown?
Did BDs longhaul flights stop at the US or where Asia and other continents served aswell?

Also, I know that BD once placed an 'order' to lease some B767s, but these never arrived at Midland. Why not and where where they planned to operate to?

Thanks alot,
Jamie.

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AndyEastMids
Posts: 1051
Joined: Wed Jan 24, 2001 10:24 pm

RE: Why Did BD Stop Longhaul In The 80s?

Sun Mar 04, 2001 6:43 am

Ahh.... Brit Mid and the 707s. Fond memories!

The last three 707s British Midland operated - G-BFLD, G-BFLE and G-BMAZ - were operated on charter flights. The three were the last remnants of British Midland's "instant airline" leasing operation, which had supplied 707s to countless new airlines over the years. When 707s became unattractive propositions to lease to other airlines (who wanted wide-bodies) the newest three were brought inhouse for charter operations. They were set up to seat over 200, the maximum in the business, and had extra emergency exits cut in the side because of the high desity seating (much as ATA has done with their L1011-500s). Some of the 707 flights were mediterranean ops (Palma, etc.), and some were as you say long haul. Most of the long haul was transatlantic, to places like Toronto, Vacouver, etc. though they also ventured as far as Los Angeles on occasions, and were also regulars to US east coast cities. From time to time they also roamed further afield, though I can remember no specifics. The aircraft operated primarily out of Gatwick and Manchester, but also visited airports like East Mids, Birmingham and Glasgow on occasions.

Time ran out for those three 707s. Economics (fuel etc) were a problem in an era where 767s, and more especially L1011s and DC-10s were becoming available to charter operations. Noise also became an issue as they were not hushed - just standard JT3Ds. They went to Bedek in Tel Aviv for freight conversion, and ended up with Burlington if I remember correctly. The last one did a fantastic low level fly-by of Donington Hall when it went.

I don't remember anything about a 767 order. DC-10s were definitely on the cards for a while (second hand), partially for another "instant airline" operation, but that never happened. British Midland decided to concentrate on scheduled services (the 707s went at the time when British Midland's UK trunk operations were still fairly embrionic) and largely got out of the dedicated charter operation for a few years.

HTH,
Andy
 
deltairlines
Posts: 6875
Joined: Mon May 24, 1999 4:47 am

RE: Why Did BD Stop Longhaul In The 80s?

Sun Mar 04, 2001 6:45 am

I never knew about the BD longhaul flights. But, as AndyEastMids said, the late 70s - early 80s were a time when oil was extremely expensive.

Jeff
 
englandair
Posts: 2193
Joined: Tue Oct 10, 2000 4:34 am

RE: Why Did BD Stop Longhaul In The 80s?

Sun Mar 04, 2001 6:52 am

Cheers Andy.

I read about the B767s on the "Aero Transport Data Bank" website.

Jamie.
 
AndyEastMids
Posts: 1051
Joined: Wed Jan 24, 2001 10:24 pm

RE: Why Did BD Stop Longhaul In The 80s?

Sun Mar 04, 2001 7:03 am

Hi again,

I should have added that BD also operated transatlantic charters in the 1970s, with turbo-jet powered 707s. When BD first acquired 707s from Pan Am (G-AYBJ was the first, I think), they were used on what was known as affinity group charters to the US and Canada. In an era where buy-over-the-counter charters and cheap tickets just did not exist, airlines could offer cheap charters only to groups known as affinity groups - groups of people with a shared interest, where the aircraft was chartered by the group for a special purpose. So, the man in the street could not buy a charter ticket, but if he happened to be a member of the "Wallace and Grommit appreciation society", and that society had a genuine reason to need to fly to the US, that was alright.

There were so many bogus affinity groups set up that after a while, the various authorities started cracking down and a number of airlines got stung with fines. This was the era when Laker was campaigning to set up Skytrain, and eventually the bottom fell out of the market. Some airlines moved to scheduled service (Caledonian and Laker come to mind), some failed (Donaldson) and British Midland pulled out of long haul and offered their 707s, very successfully, for lease to embrionic carriers such as Sudan Airways, Kenya Airways, etc.

The 707 operation you originally mentioned, that ended 18 years ago, was on the tail end of that instant airline leasing operation.

Andy
 
englandair
Posts: 2193
Joined: Tue Oct 10, 2000 4:34 am

RE: Why Did BD Stop Longhaul In The 80s?

Sun Mar 04, 2001 7:12 am

Thanks again Andy.
You got me laughing with the Wallace and Gromit bit!

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