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TBT (Throwback Thursday) in Aviation History: Brymon Airways
The United Kingdom regional air market has seen its share of airlines rise and fall. Beginning in the 1970s, one of these airlines was Brymon Airways. The airline was incorporated in January of 1970 by Chris Amon and Bill Bryce. The name of the airline came from the last names of the two founders.
Brymon was based on the ground of Plymouth City Airport, where it had a base. Its second base was in Newquay also in the southwest of England. The airline started operations with the Handley Page Herald, with routes from the southwest to airports across the UK, and across the Channel to France. Routes included flights to the Channel Islands and the Isle of Scilly off the coast of England.
In 1981, the deHavilland Dash-7 joined the fleet. Brymon became the first airline in the UK to operate the four-engine STOL aircraft. Initially, the airline acquired four aircraft. Two were based in Aberdeen to operate contracts for the oil industry, and the other two were based in the company’s home in Plymouth.
The Dash-7 would eventually become the backbone of the airline, with 12 operated by the airline over its history. The Heralds would be phased out by the 1980s as newer aircraft entered the fleet. The Dash-7s would also allow Brymon to make history in the UK. In June of 1983, a Brymon Dash-7 flew into Heron Quay in the London Docklands.
This flight paved the way for the creation of London City Airport. The airport would open in 1987 with Brymon making the first landing at the new airport in the same year. Services were launched in partnership with Air France.
Amon and Bryce both left the airline by 1984 at the time British Airways purchased a minority stake in the airline. In 1992, Brymon merged with Birmingham European Airways, to form Brymon European Airways. However, the merger was short-lived, as the next year British Airways and Maersk Air purchased the two airlines.
After the separation, British Airways allowed Brymon to retain its operating name, but painted aircraft in a British Airways Express livery. The company had expanded rapidly throughout the 1990s. A hub was created in Bristol with operations throughout England, Scotland and the Channel Islands.
The airline was successful throughout its history, however, British Airways had different plans for the carrier. In 2002, the decision was made to merge Brymon Airways with British Regional Airlines, another regional carrier owned by British Airways. The new airline was renamed British Airways Citiexpress, and renamed again in 2006 to BA Connect.
The merger brought an end to the 32-year history of the regional airline. The carrier pioneered operations into London City Airport, helping to create the closest airport to London’s financial center. The carrier’s Dash-7s would be instrumental in creating the necessary approach to the airport. Without the airline, there would be no London City Airport, leaving the airport as the airline’s greatest legacy.
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