Island Images FlyBe Tribute Pictures
Jersey European - British European - FlyBe - Virgin Connect
at Ronaldsway from 1990 to 2020
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All pictures on this website are  © Jon Wornham
A Brief History
The airline was formed in 1979 as Jersey European from a merger between Jersey based Intra Airways and Bournemouth based Express Air Services, initially operating mainly wartime surplus C47 (DC3) Dakota aircraft.  In 1985 it merged with Blackpool based Spacegrand Aviation, who were operating Isle of Man services and the airline operated isle of Man services from then until it's demise in 2020. In 2000 it was renamed as British European with a slight change of livery but that incarnation didn't last long before it was re-branded as FlyBe in 2002 with a completely new colour scheme.  In 2006 it took over most of the BA Connect operation, which had originated from Manx Airlines, further cementing its Isle of Man base.  However by 2019 it was suffering financial woes and in February was purchased by a consortium of Virgin Atlantic Airways and Ireland based Stobart Air, the new airline to be rebranded as Virgin Connect.  However, it seemed to continue operating as before with no signs of a re-launch and went into administration on the 5th March 2020.
The following pictures are intended as a tribute to the airline that served the Isle of Man for many years and are ones that I have taken since my arrival in ATC at Ronaldsway in 1990, up until the end of FlyBe operation in March 2020.  Any views expressed on the following pages are purely my own.
'Still in Service in 2020' denotes aircraft operated by FlyBe as of 5/3/20.  'Last know' is information I could find out in March/April 2020. I have put some links on pages where aircraft have left the fleet and I've traced their further operators, these are all external so press 'return' to come back here.

Jersey European and British European 1990 - 2002

What might have been  - The Avro RJX
A development of the RJ versions of the original BAe 146 with new, higher efficiency engines giving a claimed 15% lower fuel burn and 20% lower maintenance costs. 
A twin engined version was considered, but development costs deemed to high.  British European was one of the lead customers and ordered twelve with eight options. The first prototype, RJX85 G-ORJX flew in April 2001 and the second, RJX100 G-IRJX in September 2001.  The first production aircraft, an RJX100 for British European flew in January 2002 under test registration G-6-391 but BAe had already decided to cancel the program in November 2001 and the aircraft only made five flights in total and was broken up in 2004. G-IRJX has been preserved at the Manchester Airport Runway Visitor Park and the fuselage of G-ORJX is a training airframe at Prestwick.

 The FlyBe Era   2002 - 2020











2014 saw the decision by FlyBe management to close the Isle of Man crew base and operate all flights with UK based crews.  From three based aircraft and crews, they went down to two aircraft night stopping every night with crews being accommodated in hotels.  Island based crew members were either re-assigned to other bases or made redundant.  During the year a rebranding exercise took place with aircraft being repainted into a purple colour scheme and new purple uniforms being issued to staff.  2014 was also the year I retired from ATC at Ronaldsway, so not so many pictures to choose from for future years.




In September 2018 yet another rebranding exercise was commenced with a new livery appearing on Q400 G-JECP.  At the time it was reported that all of the Q400 and Embraer 175s would be repainted at the rate of around 10 aircraft a year, to be completed by 2025.  As far as I can tell, only 'CP was in fact repainted.

In February of 2019 FlyBe was sold to a consortium including Virgin Atlantic and Stobart Air. The intention was to rebrand and operate as Virgin Connect.  Normally when these things happen there is a re-launch of the airline with much publicity and aircraft appearing in a new colour scheme.  Somewhat ominously from an outside observer's point of view, nothing much actually seemed to happen, although rather strangely, Stobart Air closed their Ronaldsway base in March and FlyBe opened one of their own again, with the ATR72s being replaced by Dash8 Q400s.

2020 started with still no sign of the promised Virgin Connect, however the FlyBe Dash 8 base at Ronaldsway that had only been re-opened the previous March, appeared to be going to be closed with Stobart Air ATR72s taking over again.  The initial Stobart aircraft to arrived ( a former FlyBe operated one) was painted plain white, presumably ready to receive the new Virgin Connect livery.  By March there was still only one Stobart ATR at Ronaldsway, the other FlyBe services being covered by a based Dash 8 or aircraft based in the UK.  On March 4th, while many FlyBe flights were still in the air, it was announced that the the airline would be going onto receivership the following day and that once all flights had landed that evening there would be no more.  Most airports where FlyBe operated were owed money for landing fees and took steps to impound aircraft on the ground.  At the start of April when I was finishing this page, there seemed to be no change in the situation, the wholesale cancellation of flights world-wide due to the Covid-19 virus has further complicated matters.  At Ronaldsway, Loganair have take over some of the former FlyBe routes, maintaining vital air links to Liverpool and Manchester.  They are also flying to London on behalf of British Airways.

What should have been - Virgin Connect
It seemed strange to me that in over a year of the new operating company's existence there was apparently not a single aircraft painted in the new colour scheme and there are relatively few illustrations of what FlyBe and Stobart aircraft would have looked like.  However Jake Wright has produced one for the excellent Majestic Software Dash8-Q400 available for the FSX and P3D Flight Simulators.  I've used this for the illustrations below.

2022 - 2023
Somewhat surprisingly, the FlyBe brand was resurrected in April 2022.  Although it appeared to be the same company as before, using the same aircraft and the same livery, it was in fact legally an entirely new entity taking no responsibility for any debts of the old company.  In September 2022 it announced that it was going to re-start Isle of Man routes to London Heathrow and Belfast starting from the 30th October in competition with Loganair and easyJet, but just two days before that, the IOM flights were cancelled with passengers already booked promised full refunds. The airline blamed a shortage of available Dash 8 aircraft.  On the 28th January 2023 the company announced that it had gone into administration with all flights cancelled.  Most of the staff were made redundant and passengers left stranded.  The Isle of Man and Ronaldsway probably had a lucky break with services never having started, no need this time to impound an aircraft against outstanding debts.
All pictures on this website are  © Jon Wornham