Air Europe was a wholly privately owned, independent British airline, established in 1978 under the working title Inter European Airways. It adopted the Air Europe name the following year. Its head office was originally in Reigate, Surrey but moved to Crawley, West Sussex.
Its main operating base was at London Gatwick Airport, where it commenced commercial airline operations in May 1979 with three brand-new Boeing 737-200 Advanced jet aircraft.
Air Europe was the brainchild of Errol Cossey and Martin O'Regan, two former Dan-Air executives. Harry Goodman, who had founded Intasun Leisure during the early 1970s, became the airline's main financial backer as well as the chairman of the International Leisure Group (ILG), the parent company of both Air Europe and Intasun Leisure.
Air Europe was the main supplier of charter seats to Intasun Leisure, which grew during the 1980s to become the UK's second-largest package tour operator (after long-established market leader Thomson Holidays).
Air Europe aggressively expanded during the 1980s to become one of the UK's leading charter airlines with a major scheduled presence on a number of short-haul European trunk routes out of Gatwick.
Towards the end of the 1980s Air Europe became the first airline to acquire a pan-European presence by setting up several subsidiaries on the Continent. Air Europe also acquired two small regional airlines, forming the nucleus of a new Air Europe Express regional airline subsidiary. The acquired slots at Gatwick enabled it to increase frequencies as well as launch new scheduled routes. By the end of the decade Air Europe had become Gatwick's largest resident airline operator.
Air Europe's stellar success came to an end when growing financial problems at its parent company began to undermine the financial performance of the airline and its sister companies from late 1989.
ILG and all its UK-based subsidiaries — including Air Europe — went bankrupt on March 8, 1991.
Read more about Air Europe: Accidents and Incidents, Notes and References
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