The leisure market makes up a significant part of commercial aviation in the UK. This sector has seen numerous carriers come and go over the years. However, few, if any, can claim to have served such enigmatic routes as those covered by Scottish low-cost airline Flyglobespan. But what exactly happened to this curious carrier, whose existence spanned less than seven years?
A brief history of Flyglobespan
Flyglobespan’s first services operated in April 2003 out of Edinburgh Airport and Glasgow Prestwick Airport in Scotland. The aircraft it initially used were a pair of Boeing 737-300s, which were provided by Channel Express, which would eventually rebrand as Jet2. Flyglobespan initially served leisure destinations in European countries, such as France, Italy, and Spain.
Within two years, the airline was flying 1.5 million passengers a year, using a larger fleet of nine aircraft. The number of destinations it served had climbed to 15, including Prague, and Spain’s Canary Islands. 2005 also saw it launch short-lived Anglo-Scottish domestic services, although these struggled to compete with established carriers like easyJet, and lasted just nine months.
Over the next few years, Flyglobespan began adding long-haul services to North American and African destinations. This period saw some obscure combinations of destinations being linked with one another, which we shall touch upon briefly. However, increasing financial difficulties, with debts said to be as high as £35 million ($48.5 million), forced the airline to cease operations on December 16th, 2009. It was placed into administration the next day.
Curious city combinations
Listed below are some of Flyglobespan’s more interesting long-haul services. Could the airline have been ahead of its time in terms of operating direct, ‘long thin’ point-to-point routes? That said, certain flights from Knock did make refueling stops when using 737s instead of 757s.
- Doncaster/Sheffield – Hamilton, Canada.
- Knock, Ireland – Boston Logan International.
- Knock – Hamilton.
- Liverpool – Hamilton.
- Liverpool – New York JFK.
- Manchester – Cape Town, South Africa.
- Manchester – Hamilton.
A diverse, all-Boeing fleet
In its six-and-a-half years of operation, Flyglobespan operated a variety of twin-engine Boeing airliners. The majority of these were narrowbodies – for example, it flew five different variants of the Boeing 737. According to Planespotters.net, these were broken down as follows.
- 737-300 – 6 aircraft, 2003-2009.
- 737-400 – 1 aircraft, 2005 only.
- 737-600 – 4 aircraft, 2005-2008.
- 737-700 – 2 aircraft, 2007-2009.
- 737-800 – 5 aircraft, 2005-2009.
Flyglobespan also operated three examples of the Boeing 757-200 between 2007 and 2009. In terms of widebody operations, the airline’s flagship was the 767-300ER. It operated six of these twin-aisle aircraft on its longer-haul and higher-demand routes between 2007 and 2009.
These planes were Flyglobespans only widebodies, and could fly a capacity of 276 holidaymakers at a time. One of these aircraft has had a particularly interesting life after its time at Flyglobespan. According to Planespotters.net, G-CEOD was first transferred to Kenya Airways in August 2010, after eight months in storage in Shannon, Ireland.
It flew for the Kenyan flag carrier until June 2014, when it re-entered a 14-month storage period in Shannon once again. It was eventually taken up by Icelandair, who presently fly the aircraft with a two-class 259-seat configuration, according to SeatGuru. Simple Flying covered one of its more recent missions in great detail, which saw it fly a team of research scientists to Antarctica. What a contrast from its previous role as a summer-sun leisure workhorse!
Did you ever travel with Flyglobespan? If so, where did you fly, and on what aircraft? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments!