Home Classic Airliners When Dan-Air Went Big – the Dan-Air London A300 Fleet

When Dan-Air Went Big – the Dan-Air London A300 Fleet

by Nigel Richardson
Airbus A300B4-103 G-BMNC was leased by Dan-Air from Guiness Peat Aviation in August 1988. (Pedro Aragão, licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0)

Between 1953 and 1992 Dan-Air became one of the UK’s largest, best known and most popular independent airlines.

Throughout this period it operated a range of aircraft types, including Airspeed Ambassadors, de Havilland Comets, Hawker Siddeley 748s, BAC One-Elevens, Boeing 727s and Boeing 737s, each with different passenger capacities which provided flexibility in meeting the varying requirements of the tour operators that it served.

At the beginning of 1986 there was a significant step change in the type of aircraft Dan-Air offered when it obtained its first wide-body airliner, the Airbus A300B4-200.

Airbus A300B4-103 G-BMNB was purchased from Hapag Lloyd in December 1986 to replace G-BMNA. (Pedro Aragão, licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0)

The acquisition fulfilled the demands of some of its tour operators which required an aircraft type able to carry large numbers of holidaymakers to their more popular resorts. Not only was it the largest aircraft that Dan-Air had operated, it was the first time that the carrier had used an aircraft type produced by Airbus, and it enabled Dan-Air to match some of its competitors, with Britannia Airways operating Boeing 767s and British Airtours using Lockheed TriStars and a Boeing 747.

The Airbus A300 made its maiden flight on 28 October 1972 and the A300B4 variant first entered commercial service with Germanair in May 1975. It is powered by either two General Electric CF6-50 or Pratt & Whitney JT9D high-bypass turbofan engines and the B4 variant has an additional centre fuel tank to give a greater operating range.

Airbus A300B4-203, G-BMNA, is shown here shortly after delivery and still partly painted in the Hapag Lloyd livery. (Pedro Aragão, licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0)

Dan-Air received its first A300B4-203 (c/n 169), registered as G-BMNA, at the end of April 1986, on lease from German leisure airline Hapag Lloyd (ex D-AHLJ).

The aircraft normally carried 312 passengers but for Dan-Air it was configured to carry 336 passengers in a twin aisle 2-4-2 seating arrangement, a significant improvement on Dan-Air’s other aircraft operating at the time.

Despite some problems concerning crew training, which almost led to cancellation of the lease arrangement until some provision was eventually provided by Hapag Lloyd, the A300 began flying charter services to popular destinations in Spain, Portugal, Greece and the Canary Islands. By June 1986 it was operating an average of 12 flying hours per day.

G-BMNA was returned to Hapag Lloyd in December 1986 and replaced by an A300B4-103 (c/n 009), purchased from Hapag Lloyd (ex D-AMAP) and registered as G-BMNB on 17 December 1986. Another aircraft, an A300B4-103 (c/n 012), joined the fleet in August 1988 as G-BMNC, on lease from Guinness Peat Aviation. Once again it was an ex Hapag Lloyd aircraft (D-AMAX).

Airbus A300B4-103 G-BMNB taxiing at Gatwick Airport in January 1987. (Paul Nelhams, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0)

At the end of 1989, Dan-Air reported a loss of £3.34 million. This was only the third time in the airline’s history that it had reported a loss since Davies and Newman Holdings had become a public company in 1971, but the other two occasions were much smaller losses. The company’s response to the deficit was to sell one of its Airbus A300Bs, G-BMNB, to Air Inter in December 1989 which, when taken into account, reduced the net loss to £1.86 million.

Airbus A300B4-103 G-BMNC (Maarten Visser, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0)

Dan-Air faced further financial problems the following year, partly arising from the International Leisure Group (owners of Air Europe and the travel operator Intasun) ending its use of Dan-Air for charter services and other tour-operators, including Owners Abroad and Airtours Holidays, looking to use or establish their own in-house airlines rather than using independent carriers such as Dan-Air. As part of its efforts to alleviate some of the increasing debt, Dan Air returned A300B4 G-BMNC to the lessor after flying its last service for the carrier on 15 October 1990. The aircraft was eventually sold to Air Inter.


Dan Air Airbus A300 Fleet Details

Dan Air A300

Airbus A300B4-103 G-BMNC (Tim Rees, licensed under GFDL 1.2)

Aircraft type C/No. Registration Date Notes/Fate
Airbus A300B4-203 169 G-BMNA Apr 1986-Dec 1986 Return to Hapag Lloyd
Airbus A300B4-103 009 G-BMNB Dec 1986-Dec 1989 To Air Inter
Airbus A300B4-103 012 G-BMNC Aug 1988-Oct 1990 To Air Inter


Dan Air London Book

Nigel Richardson has written a fascinating book on the history of Dan-Air London, from its beginnings as almost an accident and growth into one of the largest scheduled and inclusive tour operators in Britain.

The book is packed full of information, and photographs of Dan Air’s wide-ranging fleet over the years.


Get Your Copy Here




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David Newman April 17, 2024 - 7:26 pm

I travelled on a Dan Air A300 from Lanzarote to Gatwick, 1988 i think.
The thing i remember was the captain was stood just outside of the cockpit and he was BIG, as in i like my food BIG.
Dan Air was a great airline.

Matt Falcus April 17, 2024 - 7:38 pm

Haha! Great memories. At least the A300 could handle him!

MERV CROWE April 20, 2024 - 4:53 am

Only ever flew DANAIR once, January 1970 on Ambassador G-ALZO ( now restored at Duxford)
I went as loadmaster on a livestock flight BFS/Belfast- DUS/Dusseldorf/ LGW-Gatwick.
Absolutely terrific sat in the jump seat of course. While working at BFS ,we handled DANAIR Ambassadors on charter flights. Sad when they folded in 1992. Great memories.


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