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British Airlines of the Past

G-AYVG Boeing 707-321 of Donaldson
London Gatwick - 1971

G-AYVG Boeing 707-321 of Donaldson at London Gatwick (LGW) - 1971 © Caz Caswell 1971

Photographic Copyright Caz Caswell © 1971-2008

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Douglas Holland Writes:
Donaldson International     G-AYVG     DIH Remembers Donaldson     External Links

Donaldson International Airways
Donaldson International Airways was the trading name of Donaldson Line (Air Services Ltd). Formed in 1968 with two Bristol Britannia Aircraft with bases in Glasgow and Gatwick, primarily to operate Inclusive Tours flights for Mercury Air Holidays.

A further two Britannias were acquired to cope with the increase in business. In 1971 Donaldson commenced trans-Atlantic Affinity Group Charter services with two Boeing 707-321 Aircraft leased from PAN AM. The Britannia Fleet was sold in 1972 and a further two PAN AM leased 707-321's brought into service.

For a period in 1973-1974 Donaldson operated on the three 707s which had a freight door fitted as a pure cargo aircraft.

As covered in Notes on Court line the fuel crisis threatened the future of many UK Independent Airlines and Donaldson was one of the casualties. Flying ceased on the 8th August 1974. PAN AM repossessed the Aircraft.

G-AYVG Boeing 707-321 - The Aircraft in the Picture above.
Boeing 707-321 Serial 17598 first flew on the 25 September 1959 and was delivered to PAN AM as N720PA. It remained with PAN AM until December 1970 when it was leased to Donaldson.
Whilst in Donaldson Service it was wet leased to Iraqi Airways for a brief period in May 1974.
Also spent time on wet lease to Polafern of Iceland and it appears the Aircraft was with them when Donaldson collapsed
After being repossessed by PAN AM the Aircraft remained on the British Register and served with British Midland.
This was the start of a series of adventures as the Aircraft went on short leases to: East African Airways, Zambia Airways, Syrian Arab, PIA, Malaysian, Nigerian Airways, Britannia Airways, Libyan Arab.

This was followed by a lease to British Caledonian Airways where the Aircraft remained for almost a year, before moving on to Kenya Airways where it also remained for around a year, before moving onto Kuwait Airways for its final lease in May 1979.

On the 22 July 1980 the Aircraft was delivered to Jet Power Inc as N3791G and was Withdrawn from use and later scrapped.

Douglas Holland Remembers Donaldson International Airways:
I do have a tenuous family link with the Donaldson International Airways as my Step-sister worked for them briefly in their Gatwick Offices.

Professionally my memories of this airline limited to the chaotic scenes in the Gatwick Terminal as the Authorities performed checks on membership credentials of Passengers on Affinity Group Charters being operated by Donaldson. These often resulting in many having their holiday ruined as the ink was still wet on their membership cards.
Whilst many airlines did operate Affinity Group Charters (which by 1971 had become a haven for fakery and dodgy dealing) including Caledonian Airways, Donaldson appeared to be particularly unfortunate in having more than its fair share of problems with these Groups.

My last personal memory of Donaldson is sitting in a VC10 Parked on a Taxyway at Manchester Airport after being diverted there by fog. The VC10 was parked next to a Donaldson 707, which was in Manchester for the same reason.
It was getting very hot in side the VC10 and it appeared this was also the case on the Donaldson Aircraft as suddenly an overwing emergency exit opened and several student types rushed out to sit on the wing, shortly afterwards pursued by a Donaldson Airhostess in stockinged feet who ushered them back in.

External Links
Donaldson International Airways - Wikipedia Entry

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