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Charter Scene

Back in the nineties, when major airlines started getting rid of their TriStars, many of them found a second life with charter and ACMI airlines in Europe. These aircraft were very popular with tour operators from the UK and nordic countries, flying their tourists mostly to Mediterranean destinations (Balearic, Greek Islands, etc), Canary Islands and Algarve. Cheap lease rates, perfect range and high capacity for these flights, made the L-1011 an attractive aircraft in its charter role.

Let's have a look at some of these airlines. Please note that many of them operated other aircraft types beside the TriStar.

Air Atlanta Icelandic, an airline based in Kópavogur (Iceland), operated several TriStars from 1991 until 2001. The L-1011 was their first wide-body aircraft. Most of them were ex-Eastern, TWA and Cathay Pacific birds. This airline is still active and it is one of the largest ACMI service providers currently with a fleet of 747s. 

TF-ABV © Pedro Aragão

Air Atlanta Icelandic L-1011 safety card 

airOps, was a Swedish airline founded in 1993. They were also an ACMI provider flying for established operators when there was a capacity shortfall during the busy summer season. At its peak they had a fleet of 8 TriStars. Although they were not bankrupt, AirOps ceased operations in 1996.

SE-DPX (Hawaiian c/s) © Pedro Aragão

HR-AMC © Pedro Aragão

airOps L-1011 safety card - front

airOps L-1011 safety card - rear

Air Scandic, based in Manchester, operated for several UK tour operators. They flew only one L-1011 with reg. number EI-CNN, on behalf of Aer Turas, in 1999.

EI-CNN © Pedro Aragão

Atlanta Airways, not much information about this airline which operated in 1996.

G-CEAP (airOps c/s) © Pedro Aragão

Blue Scandinavia, started operations in 1996, although the original airline - Transwede - was founded in 1985. This Swedish airline, based in Stockholm-Arlanda, operated one L-1011-1 (SE-DTC) to the Greek holiday resorts, from 1996 until October 1997. The aircraft was handed over to Novair.
Blue Scandinavia changed its name to Britannia Nordic in 1998 and the airline still exists today under the designation of TUIfly Nordic with a fleet of 737NG and 767 aircraft. I am proud to have flown for them, in 2008, in my last TriStar mission between Helsinki and Chania in Crete.
Here is the flight plan "stolen" from the cockpit :)

LPPT-EFHK operated by L-1011 CS-TMP

It's nice to find that they still use the old callsign Bluescan. I think Blue Scandinavia's livery was one of the smartest liveries ever applied to a TriStar.

SE-DTC © Pedro Aragão

Caledonian Airways, was originally the holiday charter subsidiary of British Airways sold to Inspirations tour operator in 1995. They had a strong fleet of TriStars (many ex-BA) operating out of Gatwick to Mediterranean holiday destination routes.

G-BEAL © Pedro Aragão

Caledonian Airways L-1011 safety card - front 

Caledonian Airways L-1011 safety card - rear 

Classic Airways, was a short lived British airline between August 1997 and August 1998, operating one ex-Cathay Pacific TriStar with a proper registration (G-IOII), under British World Airlines AOC. They were based in Stansted and operated ACMI flights and ad hoc charters.

G-IOII © Luís Gonçalves' Collection

Classic Airways L-1011 safety card - front 

Classic Airways L-1011 safety card - rear 

International Airways, operated G-CEAP, leased from Caledonian, between August and November of 1996.

G-CEAP (airOps c/s) © Pedro Aragão

Nordic European Airlines, previously Nordic East, was another Swedish airline starting operations in 1991. It was only in 1995 that they received their first L-1011 bought from Cathay Pacific. They operated a total of 5 different L-1011s, including the first TriStar 500 model modified with 8 doors (SE-DVM) which they got from Rich International. Nordic went bankrupt in 1998.

SE-DPX (Nordic East c/s) © Pedro Aragão

SE-DPX (Nordic European c/s) © Pedro Aragão

Novair, yet another Swedish charter airline based in Stockholm. They started operations in November 1997 flying for tour operator Apollo Resor. Their first TriStar was acquired from TAP Air Portugal (CS-TEC) and was registered SE-DVF. A second ex-TAP TriStar 500 bought from Caribjet, would join the fleet in March 1998 and become SE-DVI. These two aircraft returned to Portugal in 2000 for Air Luxor. Novair also operated SE-DTC previously from Blue Scandinavia and SE-DVX for a very short period.

Other than European destination routes, Novair was also able to operate long haul flights with their TriStar 500s.

CS-TEC © Luís Gonçalves' Collection

Today, Novair operates a fleet of Airbus aircraft - three A321-200 and one A330-200 leased from Air Europa.

Peach Air, was created in 1996 as a joint venture between Caledonian Airlines and Goldcrest Aviation. Peach Air ceased operations in 1998 when Caledonian merged with Flying Colours to form JMC Airlines. They were based in Gatwick and operated a total of 4 TriStars (TF-ABE/H/M/U).

TF-ABM © Pedro Aragão

Aer Turas-TBG, Thorn Browne Group operated three TriStars (EI-CNN/COL/TBG).

EI-TBG © Pedro Aragão

At the end of the decade, many of these TriStars (built in the 70's) were approaching 30 years of age and the end of their operational lives. Scrapping was their final destination. In fact, in the 2000s TriStars were already a very rare sight across Europe.

Ahhh, the nineties...Those were the days!