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What happened to all the Spanish charter airlines ?

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What happened to all the Spanish charter airlines ?

Old 13th Oct 2021, 10:27
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What happened to all the Spanish charter airlines ?

There used to be a very significant number of these, probably peaking around the early 1990s. AFAIK, Air Europa is the only survivor of a bunch that included (among others) Aviaco, Spantax, Hispania, LTE, Air Spain, Iberworld, Viva Air and so on. So what went wrong ? Too many airlines chasing too few tour operators ? Insufficient seat-only sales ? Customer dissatisfaction ?
Poor safety records ? Inadequate maintenance ? Bad management ? Culture clashes in the cockpit ? Rising fuel costs ? Recession ? Perhaps the rise of the low-cost airlines finally destroyed them.

Any thoughts ? In the case of Hispania, Thomson Holidays put a lot of business their way (similarly using Airways Cymru for their Bristol and Cardiff offerings), especially where they did not have based Britannia Airways aircraft. I don't know if that was just a convenient arrangement for TH or because they were very satisfied with Hispania and opted to make the most of them.

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Old 13th Oct 2021, 10:58
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c52
 
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If you fly on holiday with a UK based airline, you get five or more hours extra in your destination than with a foreign-based airline.

For me, it is ok-ish to start my holiday by getting up at 03:00 for an 06:00 departure, and to get home after midnight, but much less good to arrive in my destination after midnight and to get up at 03:00 for an early flight home.
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Old 13th Oct 2021, 11:06
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Originally Posted by Mooncrest View Post
There used to be a very significant number of these, probably peaking around the early 1990s. AFAIK, Air Europa is the only survivor of a bunch that included (among others) Aviaco, Spantax, Hispania, LTE, Air Spain, Iberworld, Viva Air and so on. So what went wrong ? Too many airlines chasing too few tour operators ? Insufficient seat-only sales ? Customer dissatisfaction ?
Poor safety records ? Inadequate maintenance ? Bad management ? Culture clashes in the cockpit ? Rising fuel costs ? Recession ? Perhaps the rise of the low-cost airlines finally destroyed them.

Any thoughts ? In the case of Hispania, Thomson Holidays put a lot of business their way (similarly using Airways Cymru for their Bristol and Cardiff offerings), especially where they did not have based Britannia Airways aircraft. I don't know if that was just a convenient arrangement for TH or because they were very satisfied with Hispania and opted to make the most of them.
Basically vertical integration of businesses and consolidation within the IT sector meant that the UK wound up with 2 or 3 major players, with in house airlines, and clearly the business needs to keep as much of the flying in house.

Wind the clock back some years and you had several small / medium sized holiday companies buying capacity from various carriers. MATO (Midland Air Tour Operators) set up by Doug Ellis flew between Birmingham and the usual Spanish destinations using Spantax among others, and later Carousel Holidays became a fairly large regional player using Aviaco among other carriers. There will have been similar operations from across the UK regions.
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Old 13th Oct 2021, 11:53
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No longer needed and the space filled by regular airlines such as Easyjet and Vueling with the likes of Volotea sweeping up behind.
Spanish charter airlines such as Wamos operate out of Spain to the destinations Spanish people use such as America and the Caribbean.
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Old 13th Oct 2021, 12:17
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None left now

Seriously - the same now as the UK, Germany and Scandinavia. Almost all are now gone.
We have left only now TUI here in the UK (plus all over the EU), Condor in Germany (still going strong after 65 years), Sun Class (Their strong origins were Scanair/Conair/Premiair/Mytravel then TCK Scandinavia), and Novair/Apollo in the Nordics.

UK lost BIA, AE, DA, and Novair in quick succession the markets for niche never to recover. IEA was soon gobbled up. Airways International, Paramount, Amber and Excalibur all did not last very long.
Sabre/Excel/XL RIP 2008
Palmair RIP 2012
Caledonian, Flying Colours and Airworld, plus Airtours International/MyTravel all morphed in 1999 to what collapsed 2 years ago as Thomas Cook RIP 2019
Monarch 2017 RIP
Long before these all went, we of course lost Court Line 1974. Laker 1982 and BCAL 1988.

TUI UK today has Britannia/Orion/Air 2000/FCA and Leisure International as it's forbearers.
TUI UK as it happens are great and a pleasure to fly on.


Today a few small Tour Operators still hang in there - such as Sunvil and Newmarket, but there are no niche UK airlines to pick up their work which now goes to the likes of Enter Air or Titan, with Germania and Small Planet flying for them previously.
Amazingly British Airways and BACF both have used their mainline aircraft and took on many lucrative IT charters for both summer and ski flights from LHR, LGW LCY MAN HUY IOM BFS and Scottish airports. Such was their popularity and a reason to compete with Easyjet (who bought GB Airways in 2008) most of this BA and BACF work is now flown as BA Scheduled flights.

Spain still has Alba Star Airlines, and Evelop (now called Iberojet - a take on defunct Iberworld) but Air Europa/UX formed by Air Europe's ILG in the late 1980's, now owned by IAG, flies mainly schedules nowadays.
UX was the first Spanish private company to operate national scheduled flights (besides the many charter flights which used to be its main business).

Spain was big package holiday charter business first seen in the UK with Spanish airlines flying clients from 1962, with TASSA, Transeuropa, Spantax, TAE, and Air Spain, with Aviaco also flying IT's, although owned by IB. With the exception of Aviaco they all went bust - Spantax held on to 1988.
Followed later by Hispania and Air Europa into the frame -- see below....
Many more came and went in the 80's and 90's - Viva, Nortjet, Universair, CTA Espana Canafrica, L.A.C, Oasis, Iberworld, BCM, Centennial, LTE, Volar, Futura, Hola, South Atlantic, Spanair, and some more.

Hispania HI/XF started inclusive tour flights from/to the Spanish resorts. Created in August 1982. Customers from the UK, Eire, France and Germany comprised most of its business. Airline ordered second generation Boeing 737s in summer 1988, but financial difficulties and a failed takeover by Air Europa forced airline to cease trading in summer 1989.
Air Europa was then the major for a while plus of course joined by Spanair and then Futura.
A new Hispania Airways in 2012 was based at Granada Federico Garcia Lorca Airport and briefly operated services catering to the tourist market. It planned to use A320s and had plans eventually to use A330s and A340s as it expanded into the long-haul holiday market. But only 15 days after launching operations on 06-Dec-2012, with a wet leased MD-83, Hispania suspended operations on 21-Dec-2012. No idea if any original HI/XF employees were involved.

The dearth of most was no doubt the start and then ramp up of the Lo-Co operators, Easyjet, Ryanair, Air Berlin etc etc.
Then we had the many fuel crisis' plus Gulf Wars 1 and 2, a few Recessions, and other factors such as the Internet sales made direct overtaking normal package holiday bookings made via a traditional brochure launch and booked in a travel agency.

Poor safety records ? Inadequate maintenance ? Bad management ? Fuel costs ?
Yes maybe, in the early days of large props and early jets.

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Old 13th Oct 2021, 18:58
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In the UK at least, I know that Spantax did a lot of work for Intasun. That might have changed when Air Europa came along with its brand-new 733s. As already stated, Hispania provided significant capacity for Thomson where Britannia Airways was absent and I believe Spanair worked for Thomson too. If the likes of Futura, Universair et al had contracts with any smaller British tour operators, I'm not aware of them.
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Old 13th Oct 2021, 19:43
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Originally Posted by c52 View Post
If you fly on holiday with a UK based airline, you get five or more hours extra in your destination than with a foreign-based airline.

For me, it is ok-ish to start my holiday by getting up at 03:00 for an 06:00 departure, and to get home after midnight, but much less good to arrive in my destination after midnight and to get up at 03:00 for an early flight home.
In the context of charter/current loco ops I guess there might be some truth in that..

OTOH (Pre-Covid) it used to be relatively easy to get e.g. an early Air France or Iberia flight from Heathrow that could have you sitting in the Sun by the Med mid AM and the same European operators would have services arriving LHR late evening, with the crew/aircraft then night stopping UK and to operate back to base next AM….

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Old 13th Oct 2021, 21:06
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That's choosing your own scheduled flights, not being pushed around by the tour operator's need to fill each aircraft each time.

If you overnight your Spanish crew in a UK hotel, you are becoming more expensive than a UK operator.
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Old 14th Oct 2021, 11:31
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There is still something OK and comforting about booking a traditional package holiday - All in with your flights/bags/transfers/accommodation/choice of self catering or meals.

Today though here in the UK there is really only TUI and it's brands, with the smaller guys like Sunvil, Inghams, Olympic, Gambia Experience, Newmarket, Mark Warner, and a few more...
Apart from TUI, there are almost no Tour Operators now chartering ''whole plane'' series, let alone from Spain!.
Olympic Holidays ceased chartering their own aircraft for Greece and Cyprus a couple of years ago after the collapse of Small Planet and then Germania. They carried on a while using Enter Air and ASL.
Titan, Enter Air, Volotea, BACF, and Smart Wings have all picked up work from niche UK Operators such as Sunvil, Gambia Experience, Barrhead Travel, Newmarket Holidays and Jersey's FlyDirect.

Inghams is owned by Swiss Hotelplan who used to own Belair (was SR's Balair) Hotelplan Suisse then entered into a cooperation with Germania AG using two A319 aircraft to short and medium-haul destinations with ‘HolidayJet – operated by Germania’ titles were started but is now rebranded as CHair AG, who was not affected by the bankruptcy of its German shareholder Germania Flug in February 2019, and continues operations.
Kuoni who owns Voyages Jules Verne, formed Edelweiss Air in 1995, Kuoni is now owned by a Swedish group
Crystal, Hayes & Jarvis, Sovereign, and Citalia are all now TUI brands part of the Travelopia Group.
You then have specialist upmarket people like Abercrombie & Kent, Audley Travel, Cox & Kings, Scott Dunn etc.

Back to Topic of Spain's charter business that was...
Correct, Thomson's took work from Hispania, Spanair and Air Europa. That work had all dwindled considerably after the collapse of AE's Intasun, which was around the same time as BIA and then Dan Air going under, both of whom also flew alot of work for Intasun and Thomsons.
One by one the Majors took all the Minnows paddling in the pool.
IEA started up in 1987 but was gobbled up by Airtours International after summer 1993.
Amber Airways was founded in 1988 to take over the flight services of the recently liquidated Airways International Cymru. Amber Airways mainly flew to the tourist destinations in Greece and Spain, especially Palma de Mallorca Airport. At the end of November 1988 Amber Airways was taken over by Paramount Airways who then collapsed in Nov.1989.
Horizon Midland's own airline Orion was also lost in 1989 to a take over by Britannia.
In the meantime, the previous management of Orion had formed 'TEA UK' in association with TEA of Belgium. Under the takeover agreement, they were not allowed to base any operations at East Midlands Airport so they choose nearby Birmingham Airport although the airline went on to establish a relatively large presence at East Midlands Airport and Gatwick.

During this period in Spain both Spantax and Hispania had folded soon after each other one saw many small Spanish outfits open up as mentioned in my previous post, either flying as themselves or flying sub charters on behalf of Monarch, BIA, Britannia, or Air Europe.
Aviaco who were to take over the ailing Hispania, was eventually taken fully into Iberia and AO's charter flights ceased.
During its heyday, Aviaco ("AO") was well known for operating holiday charter flights primarily from Palma, Ibiza, Tenerife, and Gerona to almost every provincial airport in the UK and Europe, providing uplift for all major tour operators, such as Thomson, Enterprise, Cosmos, Carousel, Pontinental, and ILG. In fact, ILG's combined operations (Intasun, Lancaster, Global and Sol) signed a deal with AO to operate charters from all UK airports not covered by its own Air Europe brand.
Aviaco (Likewise Spantax too) earned itself a bad reputation; it became known for its old aircraft (DC-8 and DC-9's), mediocre service and huge delays. However, the airline gained something of a cult status amongst travellers, who ultimately saw their Aviaco flight as part of the holiday experience (Really !)
Aviaco often sub-chartered aircraft from IBERIA to provide seasonal added capacity to its DC-9 fleet, which saw weekly forays of Iberia Boeing 727s, A300s and even Boeing 747-200s operating charter services on Aviaco's behalf into airports across Europe that had otherwise only handled 737 and DC9 sized aircraft up to that point.

Still, no one in Spain has lasted the course - Today (well pre-covid-19) Thomson's was still buying in 3rd party airline capacity for regional airport work and Air Europa, Norwegian, Volotea, and also Alba Star ES were doing this.
For Summer 2022 any major post Covid-19 recovery for the holiday business is still walking down unknown paths.
Norwegian have gone, Air Europa is now flying with IAG, Volotea do have some charter worked planned for TUI from at least SOU (and for FlyDirect's JER to PMI TFS and AGP)
Alba Star who were once flying for TUI from EXT EDI NCL MME INV and ABZ, have been seen often at all of the UK regionals in previously ''normal'' summers.
They have done plenty of work for Newmarket Holidays and JetsGo Holidays.

Just have to lament the heady old days of the many Spanish charter jets all lined up at Palma
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