MIAMI – Today in Aviation, UK charter and sub-lease carrier Astraeus Airlines (5W) ceased operations in 2011 for more than one reason.
CEO Hugh Parry citied ‘Lower-than-expected levels of business during the summer of 2011, a lack of contracts for winter 2011-2012 and some extremely bad luck with a number of technical issues’ as reasons for the carriers collapse.
Established in 2002, 5W began life as a niche charter operator in the 150-segment. There had been a gap left in the market following the collapse of British World Airlines (VF) in 2001.
Charter flights from London Gatwick (LGW) and Manchester (MAN) commenced with a fleet of Boeing 737-300s.
A Change of Ownership and a Change of Direction
In 2006 Icelandic investment company Fons Eignarhaldsfelag took a 51% stake in the airline. The remaining 49% was held by Astraeus management and Aberdeen Asset Management, a private equity provider which supported the airlines launch in 2002.
This change in ownership also led to a change in direction for 5W. In May 2008 Its charter and scheduled flights were dropped in favour of providing dry, damp and wet-lease aircraft.
The new strategy led to aircraft being operated with Ghana International (G0), British Midland (BD), Sterling Airlines (NB) and Iceland Express (HC).
Another of its leasing agreements was with rock band Iron Maiden, whose lead singer Bruce Dickinson was a pilot for the airline. In 2008, as part of the bands Somewhere Back in Time tour, Boeing 757 (G-OJIB) was converted to a combi and painted in a special ‘Ed Force One’ colour scheme.
In 2011, the aircraft was meant to be used again for the bands The Final Frontier World Tour. However another of the airlines 757s G-STRX was used instead and painted in a different Iron Maiden livery.
Featured image: Astraeus operated a total of 16 Boeing 757s through the years. (Photo: L doddrell, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)