Varsity Express (Oxford) after much fanfare finally started the Oxford–Edinburgh route on March 1 with a BAe Jetstream 31 (G-JIBO, msn 711) operated by LinkAir (Humberside). However the scheduled service ended one week later on March 8 after the two companies could not agree on funding.
Varsity Express stated on its website that the reason for the suspension was due to the “operational issues between Varsity Air Services Ltd and the airline and AOC holder [LinksAir] who have been contracted to operate the Jetstream 31 type on our behalf and that was being used on the route. All further ticket sales have been suspended until further notice. All passengers effected by the suspension of service either have been or are currently being informed of the situation”.
The company was set up and managed by Martin Halsted who gained some notority in 2005 when, at the age of 18, he announced that he would launch his own aviation business named AlphaOne Airways. It had a number of false starts. Halstead announced services from Oxford in March 2005 and later the same year from Southampton. AlphaOne Airways never flew a single flight from either airport. In December 2005 and January 2006, limited flight operations took place between the Isle of Man and Edinburgh. The company folded after having carried only 46 passengers.
Photos of this one-week operation are welcome.
Copyright Photo: Speed-pics. Jetstream 3102 G-JIBO (msn 711) with Varsity Express titles and logo is pictured at Edinburgh on opening day (March 1).