FlyerTalk Forums - View Single Post - Old Timer's Airline Quiz and Discussion
View Single Post
Old Feb 25, 16, 7:14 am
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: London, England.
Programs: BA
Posts: 7,630
65. Yep, I finally remembered this classic "change of gauge" service operated by Pan Am with the B727-200 in Europe. As we have previously discussed, PA operated the B737-200 in the same type of service in Europe as well.

And if memory serves me correctly, I think TWA and United also operated 72S aircraft in "change of gauge" services in Europe. WHBM, please correct me if my memory is faulty!
Per the OAG I've referenced for this question, there were no Pan Am 737-200 operations out of London (LHR) in late 1987. I think perhaps those 73S flights may have been a few years earlier...?

United of course purchased Pan Am's London routes in 1990 and so took over those intra-European flights out of LHR, though to what extent they kept all of PA's 1990 LHR-Europe routes versus expanding into other cities later on I don't know.
I don't believe Pan Am scheduled any of their German-based 737s over to London, but used all 727s to the end, dating back to when 727-100s were the German type. The corridor services radiated from Berlin, but the maintenance base for this fleet was at Frankfurt, and the 727s which came through London linked here and some other principally German cities, in what was a rather loose hub arrangement at Heathrow. Their aircraft used to be scattered each morning all over various Terminal 3 stands, rather than being grouped together, and the 727s (and United's later as well) as often as not were on the remote stands facing the north runway with transfer bus to/from the terminal, an arrangement which I know those from the US LOVE

Pan Am sold their European routes in two separate parts, the Heathrow routes to United (though not Miami, which had to transfer to Gatwick), and the rest, principally based on Frankfurt, to Delta immediately after their bankruptcy. As Perestroika came along at the same time the Berlin routes had been sold to Lufthansa the moment this was possible. If I remember correctly they got more for the Heathrow routes than was paid for all the rest added together.

United maintained a couple of tag-ons from Heathrow for some time, the last one to Brussels with a 767, only stopping a few years ago. I can recall United 727s there for a short while after the changeover, I don't believe the TWA European fleet were scheduled in there, and Delta would not have been permitted. Somewhat earlier, US 727 charter operators like American Flyers used to be summer regulars at Gatwick, but these had pretty much disappeared by the late 1980s.

If you read Alex Frater's book "Beyond the Blue Horizon", his stop-everywhere journey from the UK to Australia in 1984, he travelled from Rome to Athens on a TWA 727, which was to connect with the incoming 747 from JFK, but which was so late that day that the 727 was sent off to time with just four passengers, originating from Rome, on board.

Right at the start of ETOPS with twins across the Atlantic, when any engine issue meant diversion into absolutely the nearest available airport, a Pan Am A310 got a failure off Scotland, and diverted into Stornoway in the Scottish Western Isles, the nearest although obscure point with a 7,000 foot runway. This was soon followed by a Pan Am 727 from Frankfurt with engineers and customer service personnel, a Monarch A300 (of all things) chartered on the spot from London Luton to get the passengers onward to destination, and then a commercial C-130 with a spare engine. It must have been Stornoway's finest hour; at the time the ramp typically held maybe a BA HS748 and a Cessna !

Last edited by WHBM; Feb 25, 16 at 7:35 am
WHBM is offline