European Aviation Air Charter

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European Aviation Air Charter
IATA ICAO Callsign
Founded1989 (as European Aviation)
Ceased operations1 December 2008
HubsBournemouth Airport
Fleet size6
Parent companyEuropean Aviation
HeadquartersBournemouth Airport
European Hall, Ledbury
Key peoplePaul Stoddart Chairman
Trevor Whetter Managing Director

European Aviation Air Charter was an airline based in Bournemouth, United Kingdom. It operated ad hoc charter services, VIP flights, and inclusive-tour and sub-charter flights, as well as ACMI wet leases for other airlines. Its main base was Bournemouth Airport.[1] The company went into administration on Tuesday 2 December 2008.[2]

European Aviation Air Charter Limited held a United Kingdom Civil Aviation Authority Type A Operating Licence. It was permitted to carry passengers, cargo and mail on aircraft with 20 or more seats.[3]


European Air Charter BAC 1-11 (G-AVMH) at Faro Airport, Portugal in February 1994

In late 1989, European Aviation was formed when owner Paul Stoddart purchased two BAC 1-11 aircraft and three Falcon 20 business jets (and a large assortment of spare parts for both aircraft) from the Royal Australian Air Force's 'VIP Squad' (the Canberra-based No 34 SQN). Stoddart hired Trevor Whetter from British Aerospace as his Managing Director and sold the BAC 1-11 aircraft to Okada Air in Nigeria. European Aviation were based from Bournemouth Airport.[4]

In 1993, the company directors took the decision of changing European Aviation's name to European Aviation Air Charter, or EAC for short. That same year, twenty other BAC-111s were bought from British Airways following the British airlines absorption of Dan Air. This meant the airline could include tour groups among its charter clients.[5] By 2000, European Air Charter had acquired a eight Boeing 737 aircraft formerly of Belgian Airline, Sabena. They would be in operation with the company until 2006, with brief leases to Palmair and OzJet.[6][7]

In 2001, European Air Charter had acquired seven Boeing 747 aircraft from British Airways. Later, adding an eighth from Cathay Pacific. Seven of the aircraft were utilised in long haul service to destinations such as New York City, Chicago and other United States and Canadian locations. Agreements were signed with Palmair, however by 2004 European Air Charter had disposed of their Boeing 747 aircraft.[8] During their ownership of the 747 aircraft, they were also utilised for servicing the Minardi Formula One Team now owned by founder, Stoddart.[9]

European Air Charter Boeing 747-200 (G-BDXH) at Manchester Airport in August 2003

In 2002, Stoddart was close to selling European Air Charter to the Bath Family who owned Palmair.[10][11][12] The deal was completed, and the Bath Family continued operating European Air Charter until 2004, when founder Stoddart bought the airline back. At the time of reacquisition, European was making losses of up to $60million.[13] Shortly after Stoddart's return, European Air Charter significantly cut aircraft numbers, and made 560 of its 600 staff redundant.[14][15][16]

In December, 2008 the airline ceased operations.[17]

Continued operations[edit]

The charter airline business may have folded in 2008, European still exist with an extensive aircraft parts business. Operating from Bournemouth Airport and Ledbury, Herefordshire. In 2018, European acquired ten Airbus A340 aircraft from Etihad Airways.[18] In 2020, the aircraft, and owner Stoddart, made the news in the UK during the Coronavirus pandemic in 2020. The Airbus A340 aircraft were used to transport PPE from China and Malaysia back to the UK.[19][20][21][22]

European also developed a VIP aircraft conversion in 2018, based on Boeing 737 aircraft designed for non-stop flights to Dubai.[23]


European Aviation branding on the 2001 Minardi of Fernando Alonso

European Aviation were a regular sponsor across Formula One and Formula 3000 during the late 1990s and early 2000s. Initially with the Tyrrell team, and later Jordan Grand Prix and Arrows Grand Prix.[24][25][26] In 2001, European Aviation owner Paul Stoddart acquired the Minardi team. It became known as European Minardi, and ran with European branding on the cars alongside the engines being branded as 'European'.[27][28]


The European Aviation Air Charter fleet consisted of the following aircraft at the time of collapse:[29]

European Air Charter historical fleet
Aircraft Total Introduced Retired Notes
Airbus A300 2 1998 2003
BAC 1-11 20 1993 2002 G-AVML & G-AVMK sold to Chanchangi Airlines
G-AXLL & G-AYOP sold to Savannah Airlines
Boeing 737-200 16 1997 2008 Four aircraft in cargo configuration
G-CEAC sold to Palmair
G-CEAD, G-CEAI & G-CEAJ sold to OzJet
Boeing 747-200 8 2002 2006 G-BDXJ sold to Air Atlanta Europe
G-CCMA sold to Wells Fargo Bank Northwest

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Directory: World Airlines". Flight International. 3 April 2007. p. 79.
  2. ^[permanent dead link]
  3. ^ CAA Operating Licence Archived 11 March 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ "THE STORY OF "THE TRUCK - WABBIT ONE"". Key Aero. Retrieved 22 May 2022.
  5. ^ ""THERE WASN'T MUCH WE WOULDN'T DO"". Key Aero. 13 September 2017. Retrieved 19 May 2022.
  6. ^ "Boeing 737 MSN 21177 VH-OZX". Air Fleets. Retrieved 22 May 2022.
  7. ^ "European Aviation Air Charter". Business Traveller Europe. Retrieved 22 May 2022.
  8. ^ "UK 747 OPERATIONS END AFTER MORE THAN 50 YEARS". Key Aero. Retrieved 22 May 2022.
  9. ^ "European Aviation Air Charter to fly ex-BA 747-200s on Formula 1 flights". Flight Global. Retrieved 22 May 2022.
  10. ^ "Stoddart Planning to Sell European Aviation (Updated)". Autosport. Retrieved 22 May 2022.
  11. ^ "Boss is brought down to earth". Dorset Echo. Retrieved 22 May 2022.
  12. ^ "Acquisition of European Aviation Air Charter". Business Travel News Europe. Retrieved 22 May 2022.
  13. ^ "POLL POSITION". Financial Review. Retrieved 22 May 2022.
  14. ^ "Massive job losses at air company". BBC. Retrieved 22 May 2022.
  15. ^ "Air crews facing jobs axe". Manchester Evening News. Retrieved 22 May 2022.
  16. ^ "Palmair chairman's sadness at lost jobs". Dorset Echos. Retrieved 22 May 2022.
  17. ^ "EUROPEAN AVIATION AIR CHARTER LIMITED". Companies House. Retrieved 22 May 2022.
  18. ^ "European Aviation acquires ten A340s from Etihad". CH Aviation. Retrieved 22 May 2022.
  19. ^ "Coronavirus: 'NHS' passenger plane brings PPE from China". BBC. 28 April 2020. Retrieved 19 May 2022.
  20. ^ "European Aviation responds to pandemic with plans for A340 cargo fleet". Flight Global. 30 June 2020. Retrieved 19 May 2022.
  21. ^ "European Aviation Acquire 10 A340 Aircraft". EuroAv. 29 January 2018. Retrieved 19 May 2022.
  22. ^ "European delivers PPE for NHS". EuroAv. 28 April 2020. Retrieved 19 May 2022.
  23. ^ "A flexible, executive, business jet". Executive and VIP Avitation International. 12 June 2018. Retrieved 22 May 2022.
  24. ^ "Paul Stoddart Attempts To Enter The F1 Before Minardi". Unraced F1. Retrieved 19 May 2022.
  25. ^ "Exclusive: Paul Stoddart talks to pitpass - Part One". Pit Pass. 6 July 2003. Retrieved 19 May 2022.
  26. ^ "European Confirmed As Arrows Juniors". 9 December 1999. Retrieved 19 May 2022.
  27. ^ "Minardi's miraculous F1 rebirth: 'Even Fernando Alonso was building the car!'". Motorsport. 5 March 2021. Retrieved 19 May 2022.
  28. ^ "Stoddart starts his race against time". Drive. Retrieved 19 May 2022.
  29. ^ "European Air Charter". Planespotters. Retrieved 22 May 2022.