11/27/1992: Dan-Air Merges into British Airways

11/27/1992: Dan-Air Merges into British Airways

DALLAS — Today in Aviation, the subsidiary of the Davies and Newman shipbroking company, Dan-Air (DA), was sold to British Airways (BA) in 1992.

Dan-Air (Dan Air Services Limited) was created in 1953, and operations commenced with a charter flight from Southend (SEN) to Shannon (SNN) via Manchester (MAN) using a single Douglas DC-3 (G-AMSU).

The airline’s first aircraft, G-AMSU, a Douglas C-47B Dakota 4, arrived at Blackbushe Airport in 1955 wearing the initial Dan-Air Services titles. Photo: RuthAS – Own work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17090638

Gatwick’s Second Largest Airline

Following a move from SEN to London Gatwick (LGW), the airline expanded quickly, taking advantage of the growing Inclusive Tour (IT) charter market. To operate these flights, the de Havilland Comet was added in 1966. DA would go on to become the world’s largest operator of the type, also flying de Havilland Dove and Geron aircraft.

By the end of the 1960s, DA had become the second-largest operator at LGW.

The 1970s saw the airline enter the schedule market. It also commenced transatlantic charter flights with second-hand Boeing 707-300s acquired from Pan Am (PA). In late 1971, its parent company, Davies and Newman Holdings, was floated on the London Stock Exchange.

The additional capital raised allowed DA to expand its fleet, adding types such as the BAC One-Eleven, Airbus A300, and Boeing 727 and 737. 

The Boeing 737-300/400 was the only aircraft from DA’s vast fleet to survive the merger.

A Dan-Air Airbus A300 taxiing towards its stand at London Gatwick in March 1990. Photo: Tim Rees – http://www.airliners.net/photo/Dan-Air-London/Airbus-A300B4-2C/0070117/L/, GFDL 1.2, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17563216

Financial Woes

Initially, the varied fleet gave DA the flexibility to match numerous tour operators’ requirements. However, this would go on to cause the airline financial difficulties.

Dan-Air failed to link up with a single UK tour operator. The tour operators had already begun to set up their own in-house charter airlines. 

By 1992, debts of £50m had mounted, and DA was put up for sale. Talks with Virgin Atlantic (VS) began, as the airline willing to invest £10m in DA, but the deal fell through.

Britishg Airways went on to pay a nominal £1 for the airline which was absorbed into its LGW operation, taking on financial commitments of £50m which included debts of £37m. 

The British flag carrier got 12 of DA’s newer Boeing 737s, a similar number of short-haul scheduled routes from LGW, the Heathrow–Inverness feeder service and about one-fifth of its 2,500 workers.

Featured image: A Dan-Air Boeing 727-100 in 1974. Photo: By Piergiuliano Chesi, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15723000

European Deputy Editor
Writer, aviation fanatic, and Airways European Deputy Editor, Lee is a plant geek and part-time Flight Attendant for a UK-based airline. Based in Liverpool, United Kingdom.

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