Some brave souls (or should we say brave hearts?) in Scotland have attempted to start airlines only suffer the same fate as many other startups. While we discussed the 747-operator Highland Express Airways last year, we haven’t yet talked about low-cost 757-operator Air Scotland yet…
What was Air Scotland all about?
Air Scotland was founded in 2002 by Egyptian businessman Dhia Al-Ani and launched the following year, in 2003. Operating out of Edinburgh and Glasgow, Air Scotland ran service to Spanish holiday resorts, with fares starting from as little as £25.
Its initial fleet consisted of two Boeing 757-200s – which actually belonged to and were operated by Greek carrier Electra Airlines.
“Air-Scotland.com aims at carrying 115,000 passengers this year, and 250,000 in the fifth year. And we are currently negotiating further routes to Italy, France and Belgium.” -Air Scotland via BBC (2003)
Due to Electra Airlines’ unpaid debts to the British Airports Authority, its aircraft were grounded. This forced Air Scotland to source out another airline to do business with, resulting in an agreement with Air Holland. This would be short-lived as Air Holland would cease operations in 2004 due to financial difficulties.
Moving on, Air Scotland worked with Greece Airways, using its air operators certificate. The airline had its roots in the old Electra Airlines but was owned by Dhia Al-Ani.
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By 2005, fears and suspicions of company trouble arose after delays and cash problems. A high-profile incident saw an Air Scotland aircraft grounded due to unpaid fuel bills. The BBC notes that an aircraft chartered to handle the stranded passengers, Fischer Air Polska, returned to Poland due to another conflict regarding finances.
Rafael Barber-Llorente, a lawyer for Greece Airways, told the BBC:
“Almost immediately it became clear that Air Scotland was in greater debt than we had originally thought.”
Greece Airways owned 50% of Air Scotland but had been working to acquire the other 50% from Al-Ani. Barber-Llorente said that debts of more than £2m had been uncovered and that an audit of the company’s accounts had been ordered.
In 2005, Aviationpros noted that the airline had the UK’s worst punctuality record at the time. This fact was referenced when reporting on a string of delays that year.
In one case, a 07:00 flight in the Spring of 2005 from Glasgow to Malaga was delayed and saw passengers bussed to Manchester and put in a hotel. The flight departed in the evening the next day with a total delay of 34 hours.
It’s been difficult to find specific information on exactly when and how Air Scotland officially collapsed. One source notes the company fell around October 2005, with a late-October 2005 BBC article discussing the Greece Airways takeover and financial troubles.
Ultimately, the airline failed to survive past the mid-2000s- appearing to have left a long trail of disgruntled travelers on its way out.
Of the aircraft that flew service for Air Scotland, Planespotters.net notes that several Boeing 757-200s have been converted to freighters and are still operational. One aircraft continues to fly holidaymakers to leisure destinations- this time with jet2holidays.
Did you know about Air Scotland? Did you ever fly with them? Let us know in the comments.