Go (airline)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Go Fly
Go Fly Logo.svg
IATA ICAO Callsign
GO GOE Go Flight
Ceased operations2005 (merged into EasyJet)
HubsLondon Stansted
Bristol Airport
Fleet size28
DestinationsMainland Europe
Parent company
HeadquartersLondon Stansted Airport
Key peopleBarbara Cassani
Bob Ayling
Rod Eddington

Go Fly (styled and trading as Go) was the name of a British low cost airline, founded by British Airways in May 1998. It operated flights between London Stansted Airport and destinations in Europe. The airline was purchased from BA, in a management buy out backed by the private equity firm 3i in June 2001. In May 2002, it was bought by its rival EasyJet, and was merged into the airline's operations by 2005.[1]

Its head office was in the Enterprise House, in London Stansted Airport in Stansted Mountfitchet, Essex.[2]


Boeing 737-300, landing at Málaga Airport, in June 1999
Boeing 737-300, taking off from Bristol Airport, in April 2004

Bob Ayling, CEO of British Airways, approached EasyJet founder, Stelios Haji-Ioannou, to ask whether he could visit claiming that he was fascinated by how the Greek entrepreneur had made the budget airline formula work. Haji-Ioannou not only agreed, but allegedly showed Ayling his business plan.[3]

In November 1997, BA announced that, under the project name of Operation Blue Sky, it would launch its own low cost airline in order to meet the changing demand for air travel in Europe.[4] According to Ayling, the new airline would, "quickly become a favourite with the budget traveller" via its pricing scheme and available flights.[5]

Barbara Cassani, who had been British Airways' General Manager in New York and had been credited with turning around the airline's flagging fortunes on the transatlantic market in the beginning of the 1990s, was chosen by Ayling to set up the new venture.

The new airline would be run separately from British Airways as a wholly owned subsidiary, and would compete in the European low-cost carrier market, dominated by Ryanair, EasyJet and Debonair.

The airline was named Go Fly Limited in February 1998, following a lengthy debate over how to choose a name that would best suit the positioning of this new airline, which was already facing challenges from EasyJet,[6] and Virgin Atlantic,[7] among others. The fleet consisted of Boeing 737s. The first two, 737-300s G-IGOC and G-IGOE,[8] were initially acquired via lease from Philippine Airlines.[9]

A fourth plane, a 737-3Q8 G-IGOF was leased in May 1998.[8] On Friday 22 May 1998, Go flew for the first time from its base at London Stansted Airport to Rome Ciampino. The following afternoon saw the airline's inaugural flight to Milan Malpensa Airport. The Italian start up, and launch of Go's operation, was managed by former American Airlines executive Luca Berti.[citation needed]

As part of their campaign against Go, Stelios Haji-Ioannou and nine other EasyJet staff booked tickets for the flight, arriving in orange boiler suits.[8][10] Other early routes were to Copenhagen, Bologna and Lisbon.[8] In July flights to Glasgow were started, then to Munich in November and Venice in December 1998, followed by Málaga, Faro, Bilbao in April 1999 and Madrid.[8]

After leasing three further planes, including one former Air Liberté plane and another ex British Midland jet, between November 1998 and November 1999, six additional planes were delivered direct from Boeing, leased from GE Commercial Aviation Services bringing the total to 13. Although this was four more than had originally been envisaged, the additional routes helped to spread the overheads.[8]

In a successful attempt to stem mounting losses, on 7 June 1999, a significant change in strategy was announced, cutting back on the existing schedules in favour of new routes tapping into the summer holiday market to Alicante, Ibiza and Palma. This was followed by winter schedules targeting skiers travelling to Lyon and Zurich, together with a new route to Prague.[8]

In March 2001, Go expanded its operations in the United Kingdom, and opened a second base at Bristol Airport, bringing low cost travel to South West England for the first time.[11]

Go was very much the brain child of Bob Ayling, and when he left British Airways, Go's future was rendered shaky.[12] In November 2000, BA announced it planned to sell Go, as part of efforts to improve profit levels, coupled with concerns that Go was attracting customers from BA's own services.[13]

Estimated gains from the sale fluctuated, and in January 2001, British Airways admitted that its initial estimates may have been incorrect and that they now estimated Go to be worth only £200m.[14] With the revised forecasts, there seemed to be an increase in pressure to sell Go as soon as possible, possibly within two months.

Go was sold in June 2001, in a management buyout led by Cassani with the cooperation of private equity firm 3i for £100 million.[15] The airline's management team remained in place.[16] In December 2001, Go reported that it had carried 57.3% more passengers in December 2001 than in the previous year.[17] EasyJet announced that it would buy Go on 16 May 2002, for £374 million, to expand its own operations.[18]

By December 2002, Go operated under the easyJet Air Operators Certificate (AOC) and in April 2003, the airline was absorbed into the easyJet brand. Although it was initially reported that Cassani might seek to block the deal with EasyJet, that did not happen.[19] She did not accept a position with the new entity, and in November 2003, Barbara Cassani published Go, An Airline Adventure, which chronicled the airline's existence.


The fleet of Go consisted of the following aircraft, before merging with easyJet:

Go Fleet
Aircraft In Fleet Notes
Boeing 737-300 28

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Cowell, Alan (17 May 2002). "World Business Briefing / Europe: Britain: Discount Airlines Merge". The New York Times. Retrieved 16 January 2008.
  2. ^ "World Airline Directory." Flight International. 27 March-2 April 2001. 77. "Enterprise House, 2nd Floor, Stansted Airport, Stansted, Essex, CM241SB, UK"
  3. ^ Curtis, James (24 May 2001). "Behind enemy lines". Marketing.
  4. ^ Burnham Finney, Paul (31 December 1997). "Business Travel; Hong Kong's Huge New Airport, Chek Lap Kok, is Set to Open in April, Tourist Slump and all". The New York Times. Retrieved 16 January 2008.
  5. ^ "New BA Low-Cost Airline Meets Legal Threat". BBC News. 17 November 1997. Retrieved 16 January 2008.
  6. ^ "the EasyJet case against Operation Blue Sky". Archived from the original on 1 March 2008. Retrieved 16 January 2008.
  7. ^ Sorkin, Andrew Ross (19 September 1999). "Nurturing a No-Frills Airline". The New York Times. Retrieved 16 January 2008.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g Go: An airline adventure, Barbara Cassani with Kenny Kemp, ISBN 0-7515-3560-5
  9. ^ Kingsley-Jones, Max (28 January 1998). "Blue Sky Prepares for Launch as PAL 737-300s are Secured". Flight. Retrieved 16 January 2008.
  10. ^ "Stop Stansted Expansion Campaign - SSE News Archive - April to June 2006". Archived from the original on 22 May 2008. Retrieved 13 August 2008.
  11. ^ "Go to Bring Low Airfares to the South West". Bristol International. 9 March 2001. Archived from the original on 2 March 2008. Retrieved 16 January 2008.
  12. ^ "Outlook: Eddington Axes Ayling's Legacy. But Will it Work?". The Independent. 7 November 2000. Archived from the original on 2 March 2008. Retrieved 16 January 2008.
  13. ^ "BA to sell Go airline as profits surge". BBC News. 6 November 2000. Retrieved 16 July 2013.
  14. ^ Harrison, Michael (5 January 2001). "BA admits Sale of Go May Raise Just £200m". The Independent. Retrieved 16 January 2008.[dead link]
  15. ^ "BA sells Go for £100m". BBC News. 14 June 2001. Retrieved 16 July 2013.
  16. ^ Levy, Alan (20 June 2001). "All Signals Go: Airline Sold". The Prague Post. Archived from the original on 2 March 2008. Retrieved 16 January 2008.
  17. ^ "3I Go Fly Dec passengers up 57 pct yr-on-yr". ADVFN. 4 January 2002. Archived from the original on 1 March 2008. Retrieved 16 January 2008.
  18. ^ "Easyjet buys Go for £374m". BBC News. 16 May 2002. Retrieved 16 July 2013.
  19. ^ Kemp, Kenny (12 May 2002). "Cassani: I Won't Stop Takeover of Go; UK Businesswoman of the Year". The Sunday Herald. Archived from the original on 2 March 2008. Retrieved 16 January 2008.

External links[edit]

Media related to Go Fly at Wikimedia Commons