GB Airways was a UK airline; prior to its dissolution it was headquartered in “The Beehive,” a former terminal building, at London Gatwick Airport in Crawley, West Sussex, England. It operated scheduled services as a British Airways franchise to 30 destinations in Europe and North Africa from Gatwick and as well as Heathrow and Manchester. The company ceased operations on the 30 March, 2008 following its purchase by EasyJet in January 2008.
The airline was established in 1931 as an offshoot of Gibraltarian shipping company MH Bland, in Gibraltar. Gibraltar Airways, as it was then known, started operations later that year between ‘the Rock’ and Tangier, Morocco, using a Saunders-Roe A21 Windhover flying boat.
During World War II, the airline represented Imperial Airways/BOAC and in 1947 began its relationship with the newly created British European Airways (BEA). BEA began flying between London and Gibraltar, connecting with Gibraltar Airways’ flights to Morocco. BEA took a 49% stake in the airline, which began trading as GibAir, and the London Heathrow to Gibraltar service was jointly operated by the two carriers. Although BEA merged with BOAC to form British Airways in 1974, the financial and operational relationship with GibAir continued. Meanwhile, GibAir continued to operate services from Gibraltar, primarily to Morocco, and also began charter flights to Portugal and France.
It was announced on 25 October, 2007 that GB Airways was to be sold to EasyJet. The UK Office of Fair Trading approved the acquisition on 18 January, 2008. The deal was worth £103.5m and was used to expand EasyJet operations at London Gatwick and start operations from Manchester Airport. GB Airways continued to honour its British Airways franchise agreement and continued to operate as GB Airways until 29 March 2008, after which all aircraft were transferred to EasyJet. Slots used by GB Airways at London Heathrow Airport were not included in the sale, these were sold to other airlines for an estimated £100 million.