Scehduled Services - DAN AIR REMEMBERED

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It'sfair to say that Dan-Air is best remembered as a charter carrier. For many years the vast number of passengers were flown on charter services. The regulations that were in force in the UK, and for that matter, Europe, placed heavy emphasis on Scheduled Services being carried out by state run national carriers. Regular charter flights in the 1950s could only be operated if the whole of the holiday package price was the same as a standard scheduled service. No UK airlines other that BEA and BOAC could operate scheduled services out of London Heathrow and even then, a scheduled service licence would only be granted to an independent airline if the two state airlines had no objections to another airline operating it! Licences in the early days were granted by the Air Traffic Licencing Board (ATLB) and later on, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). It is inconceivable today, that those two organisations would not only be responsible for granting licences, but that they would decide what days the services could operate, what frequency and even the fares!  Each time an airline wanted to increase or decrease a fare, it would have to be approved. Dan-Air's initial scheduled services would be from their base at Blackbushe to Jersey. That service would transfer to Gatwick when Dan-Air moved their main operation their.  Dan-Air faced objections on their desire to operate from Liverpool to Rotterdam, as British European Airways, the state run Europe centric airline already flew to Rotterdam from Manchester. As the state carriers were able to fly from Heathrow to all the European capitals and plenty of prime routes from other UK cities, there seemed to be liltte for smaller carriers like Dan-Air to offer. The Link City network grew from Gatwick and would operate to secondary and even third tier airports. As the name suggests, these flights would hop around the UK, from 1968, taking in Gatwick, Bristol, Cardiff, Manchester, Liverpool, Carlisle, Newcastle and Glasgow.
By 1971 several 'Link-City' services were being flown. With Birmingham, Tees Side, Prestwick, Leeds/Bradford and Bournemouth being added. Those early flights were flown by Dakota aircraft before being joined by DeHavilland Dove and Heron aircraft. The Dove had a seating capacity of eight people and the Dakota just 36. There was hardly any room for cabin service. The Nord 262 joined the fleet in 1970 and offered passengers comfort and convenience on the 'Link-City' flights. Turnarounds at regional airports could be as quick as five minutes. International services in the early 1970s comprised of just Newcastle - Stavanger & Kristiansand, Tees Side - Stavanger, Gatwick to Berne, Ostend and Liverpool - Amsterdam.
Just one year later Montpelliler, Beauvais, Clermont Ferrand and Bergan had been added to the network. The introduction of the Hawker Siddeley 748 improved catering standards and the first jet to operate on regular scheduled services was the BAC -1-11. the Comet had served briefly on the Liverpool - Amsterdam service, but had proved to be inefficient. Domestic services continued to grow through the 1970s with several airports joining the Link City and as point to point destinations. Dinard and Strasbourg were being served by 1977. The silver jubilee year of 1978 saw the Perpignan service launch.
The start of the 1980s saw Toulouse and munich added to the company's roster. By 1983 after a big push by Dan-Air, Munich, West Berlin, Berne and Zurich were being served from Gatwick. British Airways lost their licence on the Heathrow - Inverness service. It was Dan-Air's first service from Heathrow and the airline did not disappoint passengers. Dan-Air had made great strides iwith service on their scheduled services. Offering hot meals and a complimentary bar on domestic services was a new concept. Dan-Air was praised for all aspects of in flight service, even winning the best airline tea award. By 1985 Madrid, Lisbon, Alicante and Seville as well as Innsbrucke and Saarbrucken were being served. The introduction of the British Aerospace 146 brought in a new standard of quiet flying. Dan-Air was the world's launch customer of the type. Just two years later, Lourdes, Ibiza and Mahon joined the network, and for the first time, an foreign carrier operated a domestic service in Germany when Dan-Air linked West Berlin and Saarbrucken.
Following the collapse of  Air Europe in 1991 Dan-Air was in a position to take over many of the bankrupt carrier's routes, including Palma, Gibraltar, Paris, Brussels, Rome, Barcelona, Stockholm, Vienna and Oslo. Licences had been granted to fly to Athens, Malta, Istanbul and Ciaro.
Other services were added or withdrawn at various times during the airline's 39 year history. Some routes were remarkably successful, such as Heathrow-Inverness. Others were less succesful, such as Heathrow-Manchester, where the airline faced a price war and stiff competition from British Airways. Several regional services were operated from Manchester, Newcastle and Tees Side where Dan-Air had substantial bases. At one time in the 1970s and 80s the airline served the Isle of Man from lots of regional airports, including Prestwick, Aberdeen, Carlisle, Newcastle, Tees Side, Leeds/Bradford, Eat Midlands, Birmingham, Manchester, Cardiff, Bristol, Bournemouth and Gatwick. The standard of service was high, even in the early days. The CAA even had rules about that! Airlines were not permitted to offer two classes on domestic flights. Nevertheless Dan-Air offered business travellers small incentives, such as radioing ahead if a passenger needed car hire upon arrival and offering wives half price tickets when accompanying husbands.
By the 1980s as competition became more stiff and rules less so, Dan-Air was able to offer services timed to meet business travellers' needs. Some aircraft did not have hot ovens to provide cooked breakfasts and Dan-Air pioneered the use of vaccuum packed catering boxes where meals could be brought on board and stay hot for several hours. The Inverness-Heathrow early morning service was heralded as a new standard in domestic service. Dan-Air served haggis on the glorious 12th, served local whiskey on Burn's Night and even sourced local preserves for breakfasts.  The introduction of lounges for business travellers was introduced in the late 1980s. These sanctuaries provided quiet time for business passengers to work, eat and relax at airports. A dedicated business cabin 'Class Elite' was launched in 1987. This featured dedicated check in, lounge access, priority boarding and disembarking, increased luggage, limousine transfers, superior in flight catering on board a separate cabin, where passengers were given much improved leg room. If the cabin layout had three seats, the middle seat was not sold, but instead turned into a table. As the literature presented here shows, Dan-Air Scheduled Services had come a long way in thirty nine years.

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