DALLAS – Today in Aviation, British low-cost carrier Jet2 (LS) operated its maiden flight in 2003 from its home base, Leeds Bradford Airport (LBA) to Amsterdam (AMS).
The inaugural flight would become a service flown twice daily using a pair of Boeing 737-300QCs ‘Quick Change’. It was these QC jets that initially inspired the airline.
The airline can trace its history back to 1983, when it was known as Channel Express. Based at Bournemouth Airport (BOH), it was predominantly a cargo carrier with limited scheduled services to the UK’s Channel Islands.
In 2001 its owners, the Dart Group PLC, purchased two 737QCs and began to utilise them as 149-seat passenger charter jets during the day and 16-tonne freighters at night. Low-cost carriers were booming in the UK, and management was keen to cash in on the growing market.
Dart ordered eight further QC jets, and Jet2 was launched in 2002. Twelve thousand seats were sold online in the first 24 hours. The fledgling carrier quickly added new routes to the network from LBA and Manchester (MAN), and Belfast (BFS) became new bases in 2004.
Enter the 757
The airline added the larger, 232-seat Boeing 757-200 in 2005. Jet2 would go on to operate 16 757s and allowed for further bases to be opened at Newcastle (NCL), Edinburgh (EDI) and the now-defunct Blackpool Airport (BLK). Today the airline has ten bases across the UK.
COVID-19 had a massive impact on Jet2, grounding all flights until July 2021. However, it soon bounced back when the longtime Boeing customer announced an order for 51 Airbus A321neo airliners, with options for a further 24 in August 2021.
Featured image: Jet2 G-GDFE Boeing 737-3Q8(QC). Photo: Fabrizio Spicuglia/Airways