At New York in early 1980 to operate domestic and international passenger charters. A Douglas DC-8-31 is leased from Overseas National Airlines and is employed, beginning in March, to offer tour flights to Orlando, Freeport (Bahamas), and Tel Aviv. Having neglected to pay its insurance premiums, the carrier is grounded on July 22. It will not restart.
AIR FLORIDA: United States (1971-1984). Air Florida, founded by Eli Timoner, begins operations in September 1971 as a scheduled, intrastate carrier. A pair of Boeing 707-321s is purchased from Pan American World Airways (1) and revenue operations commence on September 28, 1972, as AF begins thrice-daily, roundtrip, low-cost flights from Miami to Orlando to St. Petersburg. At year’s end, the company employs 74 and has boarded 27,000 passengers.
Gainesville becomes a destination in 1973. A fleet of three Lockheed L-188C Electras is purchased from Northwest Airlines on March 13 to replace the gas-guzzling Stratoliners.
Operations continue apace in 1974-1975.
New routes are started to Jacksonville and Tallahassee in 1976. Despite the addition of a leased B-727-100, competition from Eastern Air Lines and National Airlines proves severe. Passenger boardings total 191,600, but losses for the year come to $2.1 million.
The fleet is altered once again in 1977 as the Electras are replaced by 2 Convair CV-440s and 4 Douglas DC-3s. In July, leadership is transferred to former Braniff International Airways chairman, C. Edward Acker, who becomes chairman/CEO. Founder Eli Timoner continues on as treasurer.
The financially weak airline is resuscitated via a $2-million transfusion by Cincinnati investor Carl Lindner. Orders are placed for five DC-9-15s from Air Canada, Ltd. and four Boeing 737-222s, from Braniff International Airways, which begin delivery in the fall. Withdrawal of the Electras is completed by August.
During the winter season, which begins in October, the first of the newly delivered DC-9-15s is leased to Cayman Airways, Ltd.
Enplanement totals fall to 176,314. On income of $4.74 million, a net $2.61-million loss is taken.
The Miami-based intrastate airline, newly recapitalized, begins a meteoric rise in 1978, the year of the Airline Deregulation Act and of the firm’s first profit. Airline employment is increased by 50.4% to 630. It now rapidly adopts a green and blue livery, acquires its first two Boeing 737-222s, and launches interstate (to Washington, D. C.) and international (the Bahamas) service.
The DC-9-15 with Cayman Airways, Ltd. is returned in March and four more Douglas DC-9-15s arrive in late fall. In December, Air Florida takes over the Key West-based commuter Air Sunshine and initiates DC-9-15 flights, with the first of eight units received from Air Canada, Ltd., over its Florida Key routes. As the result of this acquisition and other moves, the number of stops on the route network jump from 6 to 17.
Passenger boardings skyrocket 78% during the 12 months to 635,943. Revenues balloon 255.8% to $16.88 million and expenses are $16.56 million. This slight imbalance results in an operating profit of $313,000 and net gain of $132,000.
The workforce is significantly increased in 1979, this time by 106% to 1,127. The newly certified carrier withdraws its Convairs and DC-3s and adds two more jetliners. A rapid and orderly expansion into new markets begins: to St. Croix in January; to Marsh Harbour and Treasure Cay, plus Philadelphia, in February; to New York City in April; to Toledo in June; to Houston and the Turks and Caicos Islands in July.
In November, plans are announced to begin charters from a number of European cities to Miami next year. Air Florida also acquires the commuter Air Berlin and even makes an offer to take over local service carrier, Piedmont Airlines. Customer bookings jump a spectacular 102.1% to 1,285,000.
Revenues skyrocket 255.7% to $60.04 million and expenses are held to $56.08 million. The operating profit is $3.96 million, leaving a net profit of $3.38 million, a 1,462.9% boost. The new income will be employed to negotiate a loan from the InterFirst Bank of Dallas, to order B-737-222s, and to acquire shareholding in Piedmont Airlines.
Air Florida, in 1980, increases its reach across the Atlantic and southward. An FAA aircraft purchase guarantee initially established to assist small airlines allows Chairman Acker the $82 million necessary to further expand his fleet (primarily by lease) by 18 ex-United Airlines B-737-222s, 3 DC-9-15s, and a former Fugfelag Islands (2)-Icelandair DC-10-30, which is received on March 28.
On April 9, the company wins CAB approval to launch U. S. to Europe service and it thereafter originates over 100 DC-10-30 charter flights, beginning on May 1, to Miami from the European cities of London, Zurich, Amsterdam, Dublin, Manchester, Brussels, and Paris.
A $17-million contract is signed with Arthur Frommer International on May 27 to provide charter programs from New York to the Caribbean and South America. As a result, new service is opened to additional Caribbean cities and Central American destinations, including Montego Bay and Kingston, Port-au-Prince, San Pedro Sula, Tegucigalpa, Puerto Plata, Santo Domingo.
Another innovation of the year is the establishment of a limited codesharing Air Florida Commuter network, in which contracted commuters provide feed to certain hubs, primarily in Florida. The first former United Airlines B-737-222, previously known as the City of Raleigh-Durham, is delivered on July 28.
On August 10 a hijacker carrying a box containing a bar of soap that he passes off as a bomb, commandeers Flight 4, a B-737-222 with 34 aboard and en route from Miami to Key West, and diverts it to Havana.
Seven Cubans hijack Flight 707, a B-737-222 with 74 aboard on August 13 and, by threatening to ignite a bottle of gasoline smuggled aboard, force it to fly to Havana. All are sent to prison in Cuba.
The third hijacking attempt in a week fails on August 17 when three Cuban refugees, with gasoline-filled bottles concealed in their clothing, are seized by FBI agents at Miami as they are about to board a B-737-222 flight from Miami to Key West.
A chartered DC-3, with 34 aboard, crashes into the Atlantic Ocean off Freeport, Bahamas, on September 14; there are no survivors. On September 22, Air Florida signs a $140-million, four-year contract with the British tour operator Intasun, Ltd., to provide 13 weekly roundtrips between the U. K. and the Sunshine State. Charters to Shannon, Ireland, also begin.
With a 75-min. FAA exemption, the carrier begins B-737-222 flights in December from New York (JFK) to Rock Sound and Freeport in the Bahamas and Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic.
Customer bookings for the year accelerate 55.6% to 1,839,000. Revenues ascend 156% to $114.3 million; profits are $5.1 million (operating) and $667,000 (net), the latter a 110% boost.
The employee population increases 47.9% in 1981 to 2,656 as the fast pace of progress continues. Additional flights are added to the new markets of Boston, Chicago, Costa Rica, El Salvador, London, Amsterdam, Newark, and Shannon. En route from New York to Miami on March 17, a DC-9-15 is diverted to Charleston, South Carolina, because of a passenger’s bomb threat; no bomb is found and the hoaxer is arrested. Westchester County, New York, to Chicago B-727-222 flights begin on April 27. In May, another public stock offering is made that nets $40 million.
Original investor Lindner now sells out, making a significant profit. The fleet now comprises 30 leased aircraft, with 11 on order. However, despite low fares, nonunion labor, and various investments, it begins to suffer financial difficulties as costs increase. B-737-222 flights commence from White Plains, New York, to Bermuda on June 18. Also in June, as interest rates climb toward 20%, Air Florida finds itself badly leveraged; its debt stands at $188 million, which is 3.7 times the $50 million in available equity.
The company announces, on September 17, its plans to eliminate service to Houston, Dallas (DFW), Savannah, and Charleston, South Carolina, as it increases flights to the northeast in an attempt to meet “demands” caused by the PATCO air traffic controllers’ strike. A DC-10-30 is involved in an accident at Miami (MIA) on September 22. Also in September, Chairman Acker shocks the company by departing for the chairmanship of equally troubled Pan American World Airways (1). Eli Timoner becomes both chairman and president, assuming complete control and ordering certain cutbacks.
The following month, Acker dumps 450,000 Air Florida shares, earning $4,387,500. Others in the market follow during the year’s last quarter, which contains a glimpse of the future as losses begin to pile up. A DC-9-15 is leased to the California-based charter operator Air National, which employs it to fly cargo for Purolator Courier under contract.
Enplanements for the year rise 47% to a total of 1,714,000 while freight traffic is up by a spectacular 508.2% to 4.63 million FTKs. A $12.07-million operating loss is reported, due largely to a loss of traffic occasioned by the PATCO air traffic controllers’ strike and subsequent ATC restrictions, on revenues of $302.96 million; the net loss is $4.12 million.
The workforce is reduced by 30.8% in 1982 to 1,800 as the company’s tailspin gathers speed; much of the year, almost from the start, is one of disaster and internal retrenchment. It begins well enough with a novel marketing campaign, begun on January 11, to offer S & H Green Stamps on its intrastate routes between 11 Florida cities. The good start ends two days later.
On January 13, Flight 90, en route to Ft. Lauderdale begins its initial climb from Washington, D. C. (DCA). The B-737-222, once known as United Airlines’ City of Raleigh-Durham, with 5 crew and 74 passengers is already 1 hr. 45 min. late due to heavy snowfall. The ice-covered aircraft reaches an altitude of 200-300 feet. There it stalls and begins to descend, striking the 14th St. Bridge and 7 automobiles crossing it. While breaking apart, the plane tears away 41 ft. of the bridge wall and 97 ft. of railing and plunges into the frigid Potomac River. Seventy-four are killed, not including four in vehicles on the bridge and Arland D. Williams, who dies attempting to save crash victims. Media accessibility to the disaster scene brings significant adverse publicity.
On February 2 boatlift veteran and homesick Cuban Sergio Ortega Rojas hijacks Flight 710, a B-737-222 with 77 aboard en route from Miami to Key West, to Havana, where he is taken into custody. Rojas will receive a 12-year Cuban prison term.
Another Cuban, Jesus Villa Munoz fires on two Miami (MIA) gate agents and police after he unsuccessfully attempts to board a Key West-scheduled B-737-222 in a February 16 skyjacking attempt; he is disarmed and arrested.
Pushing ahead in an effort to get past the fallout from the first two months, the company undertakes a number of charter programs throughout Europe and new services from Miami to Scandinavia and Guatemala. American Airlines VPO Donald J. Lloyd-Jones is recruited in June to become the carrier’s new president/COO. In July, following Chairman Timoner’s stroke, he is named CEO as well.
A B-737-222 with 12 aboard is hijacked to Cuba on July 22 by two men during a flight from Miami to Key West. Cost-cutting measures are now required to be placed into high gear. The fleet is downsized: 5 leased B-737-222s are returned and orders for 5 others are cancelled. The following aircraft are withdrawn and sold: 5 B-727-222s, 6 B-737-222s, 1 B-737-122, and 3 DC-10-30s. Five more B-737-222s and a Douglas DC-10-30 are obtained, with orders outstanding for 3 B-757-222s.
Customer bookings, which do reflect something of a recovery late in the year, plunge 14.6% to 2,384,472. Cargo, however, increases 50% to 6.95 million FTKs. What money is made comes primarily from freight and charter boardings and not scheduled service. Revenues drop 7% to $281.77 million, but expenses jump to $315.24 million. Losses continue to mount. The operating loss skyrockets to $33.48 million while the net loss advances to a staggering $93.4 million.
The struggling national manages to cut its financial losses significantly in 1983. A DC-9-15 is leased to the Boston-based sports charter operator All Star Airlines in March while, in the spring, the ill Eli Ti-moner resigns his chairmanship. Additionally, the route system is restructured. Services to London and Amsterdam are eliminated, the last DC-10-30 is sold and, in Europe, remaining services are subcontracted to wet-lease operators, such as Rich International Airways.
In Florida, a major market, the company, emphasizing its Miami hub, employs its B-737-222s to inaugurate flights to the Virgin Islands, as well as to Cleveland, Columbus, Detroit, Indianapolis, and Chicago (MDW).
En route from Ft. Lauderdale to Tampa on July 7, a B-737-222 with 47 passengers is hijacked to Cuba by a man who displays an explosive device that he has taken out of his athletic bag.
The short segment intrastate routes are all turned over to Air Florida Commuter partners. Former Chairman C. Edward Acker and his Pan American World Airways (1) officials launch a fare war in late spring, one that soon has an effect. In the fall, 10 of 27 jetliners are removed from service, although orders are retained for three B-757-222s, which will never be delivered.
A B-727-222 leaving Chicago (MDW) on November 25 is forced to turn around and land after a sea gull is sucked into one of its engines, shutting it down; no injuries are reported. A second DC-9-15 is chartered to All Star Airlines during the month.
Passenger boardings fall again this year, by 22.2%, to 1,854,279. Revenues are off by the same percentage, 22.59%, to $218.12 million, but costs, even though down 27.23%, are still $229.41 million. The operating loss “improves” to $11.28 million and the net loss is cut in half to $39.22 million. These figures show that cost cutting will not be enough to save the carrier.
Airline employment in 1984 stands at 1,200 and 10 B-737-222s fly to 35 destinations. The battle to keep Air Florida aloft is lost, however, when continuing financial reversals and creditors force it to declare bankruptcy on July 3. Although a plan is floated that will have the company taken over by Northeastern International Airlines, the ruined carrier’s assets are eventually purchased by Midway Airlines (1), which puts the B-737-222s back into limited operation on October 15 under the name Midway Express.
On March 13, 1985, the 14th Street Bridge in Washington, D. C. is officially dedicated as the Arland D. Williams Memorial Bridge in honor of the man who sacrificed his life saving victims of the 1982 disaster. Later in the spring, Midway Airlines (1) receives DOT approval to complete the purchase of remaining assets by the July 1 deadline set by the U. S. Bankruptcy Court. On July 24, these are duly received in exchange for $5 million and 200,000 shares of common stock.
AIR FLORIDA COMMUTER NETWORK. See AIR MIAMI; AIR SUNSHINE (1); CENTRAL AIRWAYS; FINAIR EXPRESS; FLORIDAAIRLINES; GULLAIR; MARCO ISLAND AIRWAYS; NATIONAL COMMUTER AIRLINES; POMPANO AIRWAYS; SKYWAYS OF OCALA; SOUTHERN EXPRESS AIRLINES.
AIR FOYLE, LTD.: Halcyon House, London Luton Airport, Luton, Bedfordshire, England LU2 9LU, United Kingdom; Phone 44 (1582) 419 792; Fax 44 (1582) 480 958; Http://www. airfoyle. co. uk; Code GS; Year Founded 1978. AFL is organized at London (CTN) by onetime bookseller and tax advisor W. R. C. “Chris” Foyle in 1978 to undertake charter and air tour flights throughout western Europe. Initial equipment consists of a Piper PA-31-310 Navajo and a Piper PA-23 Aztec. The company operates primarily light operations and night express flights until formation of the multinational TNT Express Worldwide in 1989.
AFL is contracted by TNT to operate two British Aerospace BAe 146-200QTs on night freight services as its U. K. associate. Third party charters are allowed during daylight hours and on weekends. Meanwhile, an associate company, Air Foyle Executive, Ltd. (AFEL) is formed to operate the carrier’s lightplanes. Authority is sought for the inauguration of scheduled services and the carrier becomes the general sales agent (GSA) in Europe, North America, and the Gulf region for the Kiev-based Antonov Design Bureau.
In September 1990, the company signs a five-year agreement with the Kiev-based Antonov Design Bureau and begins to operate three wet-leased An-124-100 Ruslan freighters on worldwide services requiring heavy or outsize loads. The first two Russian aircraft, wet-leased with Soviet crews, enter service during the month as Canada and the U. S. grant joint permissions to both the Russian manufacturer and the British cargo line.
One An-124-100 undertakes emergency relief work between Amman and Dakar. The other undertakes eight relief flights from Amman evacuating 3,600 Bangladeshis who had escaped Kuwait. In addition, a charter agreement is signed with Cargolux Airlines International, S. A. for weekly Antonov all-cargo flights between Luxembourg and Singapore. After three trial flights, regular flights commence on September 22. Meanwhile, TNT Express Worldwide increases its contract, requiring acquisition of another BAe 146-200QT and two BAe 146-300QTs. Through the month, an An-124-100, in eight flights on behalf of Aeroflot Soviet Airlines, evacuates 3,600 Bangladeshis from Kuwait.
Chairman/Managing Director Foyle employs a workforce of 135 in 1991 and operates a fleet which, in addition to the Antonovs, comes to comprise 4 BAe-146-300QTs, 3 BAe-146-200QTs, 1 Lockheed L-100-30 Hercules, 1 Beech Super King Air 200, 1 BAe Jetstream 31, 1 Piper PA-31-350 Navajo Chieftain, and 1 Bell 206B JetRanger helicopter. A record air cargo movement is made January 10-14 when an An-124-100 Ruslan transports three 53-ton transformers from Barcelona to Noumea, New Caledonia.
During the spring, three An-124-100s operate charter flights to the Persian Gulf and Asia on behalf of Cargolux Airlines International, S. A.
By December, approximately 30 charters employing An-124-100s have been flown from the U. S., including 19 from Chicago to Kuwait.
Destinations visited under TNT Express Worldwide contract in 1992 include Prestwick, Liverpool, Cologne, Birmingham, Belfast, London (STN), Genoa, Billund, Oslo, Gothenburg, and Stockholm. In the spring, an An-124-100 flies a 40-ton tracked mine clearance vehicle on a 16-ton trailer to Namibia, from whence it will complete its journey to southern Angola. During early summer, the U. S. FAA discovers that civil certification has not been issued for the An-124-100 and orders a suspension of the type’s flights to the U. S.
With certification issues resolved with the FAA on October 13, the giant transport is cleared to resume transatlantic flights. In November, an An-124-100 flies a mission in support of the USAF, transporting Lorol Space and Range Systems’ Transportable Vehicle Checkout Facility (TVCF) from California to the Seychelles Islands.
Two more An-124-100s are placed into service in 1993. A Boeing 737-300 is leased and employed to begin passenger flights on behalf of the U. K. tour operator Sunseeker Leisure, Ltd. Meanwhile, the AFEL flies only the Jetstream 31 and is soon folded into a new subsidiary, Air Foyle Charter Airlines, Ltd. (AFCAL), established to operate the Sun-seeker Leisure, Ltd. flights. AFL becomes worldwide GSA for the Antonov Design Bureau in early September, at which time it also begins to operate An-12 and An-22 freighters.
Also, on September 22, an An-124-100 Ruslan flies the heaviest single load ever transported by air. Operated from Dusseldorf to New Delhi on behalf of the Power Generation Group of Siemens, A. G., the record-shattering cargo comprises a 124-ton power plant generator core secured to a specially built 11.2-ton skid. Due to the huge weight, the transport must make six refueling stops while en route over the 5,600-mi. course.
In December, an Ilyushin Il-76 is acquired to meet the requirements of a new contract with Oil Spill Response for permanent oil spill standby. Routes now flown include Edinburgh to Cologne via Liverpool, Belfast-Cologne via Birmingham, Cologne to Nuremberg, and Leeds/Bradford and Manchester to Mediterranean holiday destinations.
Chairman Foyle oversees a workforce of 135 in 1994. Early in the year, the company agrees to fly a pair of Airbus Industrie A320-200s on behalf of the tour operator AirWorld, Ltd.
A new, yearlong contract is received in January from Oil Spill Response, Ltd. to provide a global rapid response air transport and oil-spill spraying service; it takes effect in March. A Lockheed L-100-30 will be chartered from Southern Air Transport to carry a dispersant delivery system.
The reigning World Rally Championship team Toyota Team Europe’s race cars and support vehicles are flown from Cologne to Nairobi, Kenya, to participate in the year’s 3,000-km. event.
In August, for the first time ever, a rail locomotive is airlifted across the Atlantic. An An-124-100, operating under contract to the GM Locomotive Group, flies a 230,000-lb. diesel-electric engine from the assembly factory at London, Ontario, to Dublin, where it is turned over to Irish Rail. In the same shipment is 37 tons of metal bridging equipment. At the time, the cargo represents a record weight for a commercial air movement. As of late fall, the Ruslans have been flown 8,000 hours and company has transported 4,000 tons of oversized cargo.
Following the collapse of Ambassador Airways, Ltd. on November 29, AFCAL establishes a new subsidiary, Sabre Airways, Ltd., which flies under the parent’s certificate and takes over the deceased airline’s charter contracts. Flights commence on December 17 with two B-737-204As.
During 1995, the company’s six An-124-100s operate 2,000 flying hours and haul a total of 7,600 tons of outsize cargo. During the first quarter, one of the giant freighters transports a pair of 25-ton electric-train bodies from Melbourne to Zurich.
The subsidiary Air Foyle (Ireland), Ltd. (AFIL) is established to pursue passenger aircraft related activities in the Irish market.
In December, Sabre Airways, Ltd. applies for its own license and certificate. The mission of providing wet-leased and management-package assistance continues.
The workforce, including that of Sabre Airways, Ltd., totals 135 in 1996 and the fleet of the freighter and its subsidiaries includes 5 An-124-100s leased from Antonov plus an owned force of 2 BAe 146-200QTs, 6 BAe 146-300QTs, and 1 Beech Super King Air 200.
The BAes and King Air fly passenger charters during the day with the former operated at night on behalf of TNT Express Worldwide. Destinations visited on behalf of TNT include Barcelona, Basel, Belfast, Bergamo, Billund, Birmingham, Bologna, Brussels, Budapest, Copenhagen, Dublin, Edinburgh, Geneva, Gothenburg, Helsinki, Leipzig, Lisbon, Liverpool, London (STN), Lyons, Madrid, Nuremberg, Oslo, Rome, Stockholm, Vienna, and Zaragoza.
On February 10, the carrier’s Oil Spill Response, Ltd. subsidiary contracts with Southern Air Transport to provide assistance in dispersing oil slicks up to 12 miles long off the Welsh coast. The slicks have been caused from the loss of an estimated 19-million gallons of light crude oil leaked from a stranded tanker. An SAT L-100-30 on February 11-12 flies three missions spraying dispersant on slicks off Milford Haven and across Carmarthen Bay in SW Wales.
Once Sabre Airways, Ltd. has its own certificate, AFCAL begins operating in support of the new low-fare carrier easyJet, Ltd.
Daylight enplanements total 459,000 and cargo hauled, by day and night, more than triples to 27.39 million FTKs.
Operations, including the easyJet, Ltd. contract, continue apace in 1997. On April 12, AFCAL signs a five-year pact with the Swedish startup Air Scandic, A. B. As French truck drivers prepare to barricade roadways on November 2 and strike over wages, vegetable exporters in the Alicante region of Spain contract with AFL to fly produce to Britain aboard two An-124-100s. The French road blockade is lifted on November 5.
A series of four charter flights each month is initiated by AFL during November on behalf of General Electric. Each flight transports GE engines destined for new Boeing 777s from Wilmington, Delaware, to the airframe builder’s plant at Seattle. The trips, if undertaken by road, would require six days, but are accomplished by the Antonovs in just five hours.
In December, an An-124-100 airlifts a 132-ton Siemen’s manufactured steam turbine from Germany to Santiago, Chile, on behalf of Siemen’s Power Plant Division; the unit, the second heaviest single piece ever transported by air, is destined for a major Chilean power plant project.
Passenger boardings total 818,334. Cargo figures are not available.
In January 1998, AFCAL signs a contract with Color Air, A. S., a Norwegian startup airline owned by the Oslo-based ferryboat operator Color Line, which had once held Norway Airlines, A. S.
During the month, an An-124-100, under contract to Virgin Atlantic Airways, Ltd. (VAA), transports the Global Challenger balloon of entrepreneur Richard Branson from northwest Algeria back to London (CTN) following its aborted first attempt to break its flight record due to technical problems.
In May, the company begins to operate a pair of Airbus A300s on behalf Air Scandic, A. B. Flown for several prominent U. K. tour operators to European destinations, these are the first wide-bodies flown by AFCAL.
Meanwhile, AFCAL appoints former Norway Airlines, A. S. executive Morton Anderson as Color Air, A. S.’s president and through him will manage the launch of the new operator. A workforce is recruited and two Boeing 737-3Q8s, previously operated by TACA International Airlines, S. A., are chartered from ILFC. Revenue flights commence during August, linking the company’s base with Alesund, Bergen, Stavanger, and Trondheim.
From September 23 through October 15, an An-124-100 hauls relief supplies for the victims of Hurricane Georges. Operating on behalf of the air charter broker Diplomat Freight Services (which is under contract to the U. S. Federal Emergency Management Administration-FEMA), it makes over 50 flights from the U. S. to Puerto Rico. Averaging over 70 tons per flight (3,500 tons total), the giant aircraft transports: 31 potable water ice trucks, utility trucks for power generation, refrigeration units, telecommunication units, water purification systems, and vast quantities of drinking water and ice.
On December 2, an An-124-100 again transports the VAA Global Challenger balloon, this time from RAF Manston to Marrakech, Morocco. From that point, on December 18, Branson, U. S. millionaire and former balloon-record competitor Steve Fossett, and Swede Per Lind-strand again attempt to achieve aviation’s last great achievement— to make the first nonstop round-the-world flight in a balloon. Unfortunately, this quest must be abandoned on Christmas Day, a little more than halfway through, when the balloon comes down off Honolulu. The three aeronauts are rescued by USCG helicopters.
Customer booking figures are unavailable for this year, but freight traffic of 17.31 million FTKs is reported.
By the beginning of 1999, airline employment has been increased by 11.1% to 150. The company continues to operate eight BAe 146-200QTs and Dash-300QTs on behalf of TNT, Ltd. On February 9, an An-124-100 flies a USN Mk. V Fast Patrol Boat, with two “Humvee” trucks and ancillary equipment from Seoul to San Diego.
At the beginning of April, an arrangement is discussed with Dublin-based CityJet, Ltd. under which the British carrier would assume controlling interest for an equity investment in excess of $6.8 million. No plans are announced for the integration of services, despite the fact that the Irish line is also a BAe 146 operator, flying seven Dash-200s on passenger services.
Acting via AFIL, AFL, on May 17, formalizes its deal with CityJet, Ltd. In exchange for a ?4-million (?Ir 8-million) investment, the British carrier acquires a 50.01 majority stake. AFL Chairman Chris Foyle becomes the Irish line’s new chairman, while CityJet’s founder/CEO Patrick Byrne retains his post.
In addition, Air France invests ?2 million as a convertible loan. The French major’s contribution will result in CityJet becoming the newest upgraded “Air France Express” carrier. As a number of its aircraft are repainted, CityJet will expand its commuter services from Dublin to Paris, London (CTN), Florence, Nice, Toulouse, Madrid, and Strasbourg to a point where these flights account for half of the company’s business.
A former Sales Director at Laker Airways, Ltd., John Jones is named Air Foyle Group Managing Director on August 2.
A key managerial associate of Sir Freddie Laker, John Jones is named group managing director on August 2; the move frees the owner and executive director, Foyle, to concentrate on strategic and development concerns.
It is confirmed in October that the company’s outsized cargo joint venture with Antonov Design Bureau will be expanded with the addition of 2 An-124s previously operated by Aeroflot Russian International Airlines (ARIA). The joint venture between the two airlines is to be renamed Antonov Airlines.
Competition introduced by Aer Lingus Irish Airlines, Ltd. over the Dublin-London (LCY) route in November causes a severe loss of market share for CityJet, Ltd. With costs mounting and expenses for expansion pending, Air Foyle, on December 19, elects to sell its stake in the Irish airline. Although Air France maintains its interest, it does not plan to take the tendered shares.
Passenger boardings in the charter division skyrocket 89% during the year to 344,000. Cargo, on the other hand, slips 0.4% to 19.11 million FTKs.
The improved cooperative arrangement with the Russian design bureau, which has by now been renamed Antonov Airlines, takes effect in early 2000.
Although Air France had maintained that it had no plan to take the tendered shares, the 33% minority owner assumes the CityJet, Ltd. stake on February 17. The French promise to keep their prize Irish owned and licensed even as seven of its eight aircraft operate “Air France Express” flights from Paris (CDG).
Also during February, the company begins to transfer its entire BAe 146QT fleet and 55 pilots to TNT Airways. The entire process will be completed by early June.
In support of the humanitarian relief effort in the African nation, a company An-124-100 on March 3 transports 4 RAF Super Puma helicopters from RAF Brize Norton to Mozambique.
In mid-April, a pair of Antonov Ruslans transport 140 tons of support equipment for Nepalese troops assigned to the UN peacekeeping effort in East Timor. The Russian giants are the first of their type and the largest aircraft ever to visit Kathmandu.
A number of British troops are deployed by passenger aircraft in early May to restore political stability in Sierra Leone. Two An-124-100s are chartered by the RAF to transport 100 tons each of vehicles and equipment to Dakar, Senegal, from whence they will be moved to support them.
Working from Air Foyle’s base, sales representatives mount an extensive campaign during the fourth quarter to expand Antonov Airlines representation in Asia. New general sales partners are found in South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, and the Philippines.