Flightline ceases operations

Flightline BAe 146-300 G-FLTC

BAe 146-300 G-FLTC sits forlorn at Southend following Flightline’s shutdown (Pete Marshall)

Southend-based Flightline abruptly shut down operations on 3 December. A terse press release from KPMG LLP indicated that it has been appointed as administrators and that they would be winding down the business. 235 staff members were made redundant, with only a small number remaining to help the administrators. Flightline had been formed in 1989, and had acquired its first BAe 146 in 1992, which it operated on behalf of Palmair. Others were soon added, and the company became one of the world’s pre-eminent operators of the type. Over the years, Flightline operated no less than 21 different BAe 146s and Avro RJs at various times, including thirteen series 200s, six series 300s, one RJ70, and one RJ100. Only in recent years have any of them actually flown with Flightline titles, as the company has specialized in what it called “branded wet leases”: operating aircraft on behalf of other airlines in their full colors. Clients have included Aer Lingus, Binter Canarias, British Airways, Croatia Airlines, Discovery Aviation, Jet2, Lufthansa, Qantas, Swiss, and VLM. Another longstanding contract has seen Flightline operate 146s from Aberdeen in support of the North Sea oil industry. Flightline’s collapse left its current contracts hanging. At London City, the loss of Flightline’s two 146s caused BA CityFlyer to shuffle schedules until Titan‘s BAe 146-200 G-ZAPO (msn E2176) could fly in to help out. At Aberdeen, Eastern Airlines stepped in with SAAB 2000s to cover for Flightline’s BAe 146s. Eastern had been scheduled to take over the Scatsta flying in February. Fordair’s regular Avro RJ100 service from Stansted to Köln, which Flightline had been operating, was cancelled outright until at least January. On a smaller scale, WDL‘s BAe 146-100 D-AWDL (msn E1011) came to the rescue of the Portsmouth football team, who had chartered a Flightline 146 to fly them to Braunschweig, Germany, for a UEFA Cup match.

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