Owned by the Turkish businessman Mehmet Birgen, Birgenair operated charter flights from Western Europe to several Turkish holiday destinations, initially with DC-8 aircraft. Later it served the Turkish-German discount travel and tourism company Öger Tours for flights from Germany to the Caribbean with Boeing 757 and 767 aircraft.
Massive negative publicity about Birgenair and other discount flight organizers in Germany following the disaster mentioned below caused a sharp decline in reservations, and finally the company went into bankruptcy and closed later that same year, 1996.
On 6 February 1996 Birgenair Flight 301 was bound for Frankfurt, Germany but crashed shortly after take-off from Puerto Plata Airport in the Dominican Republic into Atlantic Ocean 26 kilometres off-shore. All 176 passengers and 13 crew members, among them 154 Germans and 9 Polish people, were killed. It was found that one of the air speed indicators of the Boeing 757-225 was not working properly, confusing the pilots about whether the plane's speed was too fast or too slow. The aircraft was leased due to a malfunction with the scheduled aircraft for that flight.