TBT (Throwback Thursday) in Aviation History: Partnair

A Partnair Convair 580 (Photo: Eduard Marmet [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0), CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL 1.2 (http://www.gnu.org/licenses/old-licenses/fdl-1.2.html)], via Wikimedia Commons)

In the late 1980s, Partnair was flying the Norwegian skies, becoming the fifth largest airline in Norway by revenue. The airline was founded in 1968 as Paralift Air Service by a group of parachuters to own and operate an aircraft so that they did not have to rent.

The service began with a Cessna 180 in February 1969 which they operated until August when it was replaced with a Cessna 182. The air service expanded a year later with the addition of a Cessna 310. The aircraft were all designed in a parachutist configuration. The company was officially incorporated in June of 1971 and received a commercial air operator’s certificate in the fall of 1971.

Based in Oslo, the air service continued to operate parachute flights in 1975. In the early 1970s, the air service began to operate charters using multi-engine Cessna aircraft. The air service catered to executives traveling in groups as it was more economical than jets. 

In 1976, the airline began to replace the aging fleet of Cessna aircraft with multi-engined Piper aircraft. Within three years, the airline had five Pipers in its fleet as well as a Cessna 404.

In the late 1970s, the airline changed names from Paralift to Partnair. During the late 1970s, the oil industry was booming in Norway and Partnair rode the waves of the budding business. 

The airline continued to expand adding newer and larger aircraft. In 1978 the airline began receiving its first King Air aircraft. In the 1980s, the Partnair added its first jet aircraft, the Cessna Citation, however, the type lasted less than a year in the fleet.

In 1983, the airline was purchased by the shipping company Tenvig, which invested 43 million kroner over three years into the airline. Following the takeover, the carrier invested in an executive terminal at Oslo Airport. 

The same year the airline purchased fellow Norwegian carrier Nor-Fly Charter and took over the company’s Convair CV-580s, which were assigned to domestic oil charters from Stavanger Airport.

The airline built a new headquarters and hangar in Oslo at a cost of 15 million kroner. The carrier also added a third Convair the next year. The late 1980s saw Partnair attempt to enter scheduled service, with the carrier awarded domestic routes.

The scheduled service proved to be unprofitable with the airline reporting a loss of 6.5 million kroner in 1986. This prompted Tenvig to withdraw from the airline and shut it down in 1987. However, 70 percent of the airline was purchased by Helikopter Service and operations resumed in August 1987.

A year later the airline was running without a deficit and Helikopter Service decided to sell the airline. The new owners, brothers Terje and Rolf Thoresen, began to lose money with the airline posting losses by the end of 1988. At the time the airline operated three Convairs and six King Airs.

In 1989 tragedy struck the airline, when Partnair flight 394 crashed into the Straits of Denmark, while on a charter flight to Hamburg. The crash killed all 55 people onboard and led to an extensive investigation into Partnair. 

The crash highlighted the poor financial state of the airline, as the flight was delayed with the crew having to pay for catering. A little over a month after the crash, the airline filed for bankruptcy and shut down. The assets were purchased by a group including the Thoresen brothers and was renamed Air Stord.

Daniel Morley

Daniel Morley

Daniel has always had aviation in his life; from moving to the United States when he was two, to family vacations across the U.S., and back to his native England. He currently resides in South Florida and attends Nova Southeastern University, studying Human Factors in Aviation. Daniel has his Commercial Certificate for both land and sea, and hopes to one day join the major airlines.
Daniel Morley