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A History of Low-Cost Airlines in the UK

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In the late 1940s the UK was still recovering from World War Two, but a war-weary world was longing for rest and relaxation in a beautiful sunny setting.
A surplus of transport aircraft retired from military service were being offered for sale on both sides of the Atlantic at bargain prices, resulting in many new airlines being created.
Many of the new airlines did not survive long due to management, financial, or safety problems and were liquidated, merged or bought each other out.
Dan-Air, Monarch, British United and Brittania Airways grew and continued for decades by offering charter flights, mostly from smaller airports that were less expensive than scheduled service aboard the flagship British Overseas Airways Corporation and British European Airways.
Some of the more successful low-cost airlines did so well operating the older aircraft, many of which were hand-me-downs from BOAC and BEA, that they started ordering brand new aircraft and offering service as good or better than them.
Sir Freddie Laker was a low-cost transatlantic pioneer when he started the Laker Skytrain service in the 1970s, although his airline had been providing service to travelers on cheap holidays around the Mediterranean for some time.
Laker continued for a few years, and during the 1980s Sir Richard Branson started a low-cost scheduled airline called Virgin Atlantic in direct competition with British Airways, and today Virgin spans the globe.
Government owned BOAC and BEA were merged and became the present British Airways in 1974, which was privatised in 1987.
In the early 90s the European Union deregulated airlines, and the tight grip on scheduled services by British Airways at the major UK airports disappeared, prompting expansion by Virgin and others plus several new low-cost scheduled airlines such as Ryanair and Easyjet to start offering services to those longing for cheap holidays.
Although prior to deregulation most international flights flew out of London Heathrow and Gatwick airports, the new wave of discount airlines now provide more service inside the country and from many UK airports such as Manchester and Birmingham to many new destinations around Europe, the Mediterranean, and beyond.
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