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|Founded||1931 (as Gibraltar Airways)|
|Hubs||London Gatwick Airport|
|Focus cities||London Heathrow Airport, Manchester Airport|
|Headquarters||London Gatwick Airport
|Key people||Joseph Gaggero (President) James Gaggero (Chairman)|
GB Airways was a UK airline; prior to its dissolution it was headquartered in "The Beehive," a former terminal building, at City Place Gatwick, London Gatwick Airport in Crawley, West Sussex, England. It operated scheduled services as a British Airways franchise to 30 destinations in Europe and North Africa from Gatwick and as well as Heathrow and Manchester. The company ceased operations on 30 March 2008 following its purchase by EasyJet in January 2008.
The airline was established in 1931 as an offshoot of Gibraltarian shipping company MH Bland, in Gibraltar. Gibraltar Airways, as it was then known, started operations later that year between 'the Rock' and Tangier, Morocco, using a Saunders-Roe A21 Windhover flying boat.
During World War II, the airline represented Imperial Airways/BOAC and in 1947 began its relationship with the newly created British European Airways (BEA). BEA began flying between London and Gibraltar, connecting with Gibraltar Airways' flights to Morocco. BEA took a 49% stake in the airline, which began trading as GibAir, and the London Heathrow to Gibraltar service was jointly operated by the two carriers. Although BEA merged with BOAC to form British Airways in 1974, the financial and operational relationship with GibAir continued.
Meanwhile, GibAir continued to operate its own services from Gibraltar, primarily to Morocco, and also began charter flights to Portugal and France. Douglas DC-3s were operated on these services. In 1960 the airline was headquartered in the Cloister Building in Gibraltar.
In 1985 the airline, known as GB Airways, was headquartered in Gibraltar. In 1989 the company moved its operational HQ to the United Kingdom in order to increase the scope for expansion. A base was established at London Gatwick Airport and the company became GB Airways Ltd on 3 January 1989. The livery on the airline's fleet of Boeing 737 aircraft at this time was mainly white, with red and blue twin stripes down the centre of the fuselage, sweeping down to form a 'chin strap' under the nose cone. The twin stripe was repeated on the tailfin, with a speeding red arrow creating a diamond-shaped centrepiece, which was repeated on the forward fuselage. A stylised version of this diamond logo was used until the airline was bought by EasyJet in 2008.
The relationship with British Airways was firmly entrenched in 1995 when it became a full British Airways franchise operator, with BA relinquishing its financial holding in the airline. The franchise agreement with British Airways was due to continue until 2010 and under the terms, GB Airways traded as British Airways, with all flights operated under BA flight codes (the range BA6800-6999 were allocated to GB Airways flights). All GB Airways aircraft were presented in full British Airways livery, appointed with the same interior and class product as the BA main fleet, and staff wore the BA uniform. GB Airways flights could be booked through British Airways and the airline participated in BA's Executive Club and BA Miles programme. GB Airways was an affiliate member of Oneworld. However, GB Airways continued its own inflight magazines, Med Life and "Elevate" (for GB Airways' own duty-free goods range) in addition to the regular BA publications. Additionally, servicing of GB Airways aircraft at Gatwick was carried out by Virgin Atlantic Engineering.
Acquisition by EasyJet
It was announced on 25 October 2007 that GB Airways was to be sold to EasyJet. The UK Office of Fair Trading approved the acquisition on 18 January 2008. The deal was worth £103.5m and was used to expand EasyJet operations at London Gatwick and start operations from Manchester Airport. GB Airways continued to honour its British Airways franchise agreement and continued to operate as GB Airways until 29 March 2008, after which all aircraft were transferred to EasyJet. Slots used by GB Airways at London Heathrow Airport were not included in the sale, these were sold to other airlines for an estimated £100 million.
While most assets of GB Airways were acquired by Easyjet, the corporate head office, the Beehive, was not included. The employment base at The Beehive closed, with 284 job losses. All aircraft that were belong to British Airways were sold back to them while the other sold to Easyjet or other airlines.
The airline's main operational base was at London Gatwick. Some of its aircraft were also based at London Heathrow and there was a small base at Manchester. Flights from the latter operated as 'BA Connect' services, which operated a no-frills airline style "buy on board" service. The airline mainly served destinations in the Mediterranean region and the Spanish and Portuguese islands, as well as a small number of destinations in inland continental Europe. Thus its main market was British people looking for a holiday in the sun.
- London Gatwick (Agadir, Ajaccio, Alicante, Arrecife, Bastia, Corfu, Dalaman, Fez, Faro, Funchal, Gibraltar, Heraklion, Hurghada, Ibiza, Innsbruck, Las Palmas, Mahon, Malaga, Malta, Marrakech, Montpellier, Mykonos, Nantes, Palma de Mallorca, Paphos, Rhodes, Sharm el-Sheikh, Tenerife-South, Tunis)
- London Heathrow (Casablanca, Faro, Malaga, Marrakech, Tangiers)
- Manchester (Heraklion, Innsbruck, Malaga, Malta, Paphos, Salzburg, Tenerife-South)
In addition to the above destinations the airline also operated several charter flights from London Gatwick to destinations across Africa, Asia and Europe during Winter months.
The GB Airways fleet consisted of the following aircraft (at March 2008):
In February 2008, the GB Airways average fleet age was 4.7 years.
Accidents and incidents
- On 23 November 1988, Vickers Viscount G-BBVH was damaged beyond economic repair in a landing accident at Tangier-Boukhalef Airport.
- "The Beehive." GB Airways. Retrieved on May 19, 2009.
- "Directory: World Airlines". Flight International. 2007-04-03. pp. 85–86.
- "World Airline Directory." Flight International. 8 April 1960. 500.
- "World Airline Directory." ''Flight International. 30 March 1985. 83." Retrieved on 23 July 2009.
- BBC story about EasyJet taking over GB Airways
- EasyJet plc agrees to acquire GB Airways Limited
- Regulator clears EasyJet's GB Airways acquisition
- "GB's slim profits hastened sale." Travel Trade Gazette UK & Ireland. 2 November 2007. 4 News. Retrieved on 2 March 2011.
- Civil Aviation Authority Aircraft Register
- GB Airways Average Fleet Age
- "Accident description". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 8 October 2009.
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