MIAMI – Today in Aviation, Jersey European Airways (JY) commenced operations in 1979. The airline was established by Jersey resident and majority investor John Habin who saw a market for a new airline on Channel Island. Jersey-based Intra Airways was merged with Bournemouth-based Express Air Freight to create the new carrier.

The fleet consisted initially of Douglas DC-3s and Vickers Viscounts. Habin established JY on a number of key routes from the Channel Islands to the UK and Northern Europe.

In November 1983, the company was sold to the Walker Steel Group. Owner Jack Walker already owned Blackpool-based charter carrier Spacegrand Aviation. The airlines were subsequently merged under the Jersey European brand in 1985 and its headquarters moved to Exeter.

Vickers Viscount G-AVJB was transferred over from Intra Airways and remained with JY until November 1986. (Photo: Udo K. Haafke (GFDL 1.2 or GFDL 1.2, via Wikimedia Commons)

The Jet Age

In 1993, JY received its first jet aircraft when its first British Aerospace (BAe) 146 arrived. The type went on to form the backbone of the fleet for many years. At the same time, a business class was introduced, making JY the first domestic airline in the UK to offer two cabin classes.

In June 2000, the carrier had grown to become the third-largest scheduled operator in the UK. To reflect this shift, JY was rebranded as British European. In July 2002, the company had a further name change to Flybe (BE) as it was repositioned as a full-service, low-fare airline.

Sadly on March 5, 2020, Flybe ceased all operations after years of financial losses. Today BE MK. II is set to relaunch although details of the new carrier have yet to be announced. 

Featured image: Jersey European operated all variants of the BAe 146, including the -200 pictured here. (Photo: Ardfern, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)