Britannia Airways

Britannia

Operated from Apr 1962 to Nov 2005

Main Base – Luton
Founders/Directors – Mr J.E.D Williams, Capt J.C Harrington and Capt T Langton

Britannia Airways had something of a tenuous relationship with SEN, although this airline would admittedly provide the airport with its first ever visit by a Boeing 737 (G-AXNA) which arrived on April 8th 1970, while carrying out a freight flight. However, this airline’s beginnings came about 8 years earlier when Euravia (as it was then known) flew its first service from Luton with a Lockheed 049 Constellation. As was the case with most of these post-1960, I.T operators, there was invariably a holiday or tour company attached to its operations and in the case of this company, this would be Universal Sky Tours. Operations went from strength to strength and in September 1962, Euravia purchased Skyways which enabled them to expand services further. Two more important events would then take place, firstly a name change to Britannia Airways in August 1964 and secondly, the takeover by the Thomson Group which occurred the following spring in April 1965.

The mid-60s, would also see a number of fleet changes and by the end of 1965, all but one of the Constellations had been replaced by Britannias which would then in turn, be superseded by jets from 1968 onwards. The first pure jet equipment to arrive would be in the shape of Boeing 737s, with Britannia becoming Britain’s first airline and Europe’s first charter carrier to purchase the type. So, it was from 1970 onwards that SEN would begin to see a trickle of Britannia 737s, most of which used the airport for diversions. However, around 1978, Britannia sent an aircraft and crew to Southend to perform an evaluation on the possibility of operating Thomson charters from the airport. Unfortunately though, the crew were not too enthralled with the length of the runway. It is believed that Britannia may have flown a few services from the airport, although they would soon pull out, citing operational difficulties.

Nevertheless, Britannia 737s would continue to infrequently appear at Southend, until around 1982 when their aircraft finally vanished for good. Otherwise, this aeronautical entity would go on to become the UK’s largest I.T charter airline flying for parent company Thomson. During the ’80s, Britannia built up a fleet of more than 30 aircraft and would also be the first British operator to buy the Boeing 767. The fleet was then later expanded to almost 50 aircraft before finally, being reorganised and becoming Thomsonfly in November 2005. Operations continue today under the Thomson Airways brand to destinations worldwide and as of 2016, this airline is currently the largest charter airline on the planet.

 

Britannia Airways fleet from 1970 to 1982

(Only those aircraft that were likely to have been seen at SEN are listed)

Boeing 737-200

G-AVRL – 7/68 to 3/86

Sold to Presidential Airways as N311XV

G-AVRM – 8/68 to 11/85

Sold to Presidential Airways as N312XV

G-AVRN – 4/69 to 12/74

Sold to Transavia as PH-TVG

G-AVRO – 4/69 to 11/76

Sold to Far Eastern Air Transport as B-2605

G-AWSY – 5/69 to 10/93

Sold to Polaris Holdings as N173PL

G-AXNA – 3/70 to 9/74

Sold to Transavia as PH-TVF

G-AXNB – 4/70 to 2/90

Sold to TAT European Airlines as F-GGPB

G-AXNC – 5/70 to 1/93

Sold to Air Atlanta Icelandic as TF-ABD

G-BADP – 1/73 to 11/92

Sold to National Airlines S.A as CC-CSH

G-BADR – 3/73 to 11/92

Sold to National Airlines S.A as CC-CSI

G-BAZG – 1/74 to 9/91

Sold to Copa Airlines as HP-1195CMP

G-BAZH – 2/74 to 3/94

Sold to Ambassador Airlines

G-BAZI – 3/74 to 3/97

Sold to National Airlines S.A as CC-CSP

G-BECG – 4/77 to 2/94

Sold to GB Airways

G-BECH – 5/77 to 12/97

Sold to Triton Leasing as N103TR

G-BFVA – 11/78 to 8/90

Sold to Copa Airlines as HP-1163CMP

G-BFVB – 11/78 to 12/94

Sold to Sabre Airways

 

Do you have any other, interesting snippets of information about this airline’s SEN history or indeed, any pictures or paraphernalia that you would like to share? If so, please post submissions below or contact us on saadinfomail@gmail.com

Many thanks from the SAAD Admin Team.