Go Fly

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Go Fly was the name of an award-winning British airline, trading as "Go", which was purchased by EasyJet.[1]



Bob Ayling, ex-chief of British Airways, approached easyJet's founder, Stelios Haji-Ioannou, to ask whether he could visit claiming that he was fascinated by how the Greek entrepreneur had made the budget airline formula work. Haji-Ioannou not only agreed, but allegedly showed Ayling his business plan.[2]

In November 1997, British Airways announced that, under the project name of Operation Blue Sky, it would launch its own low cost airline[3] in order to meet the changing demand for air travel in Europe. According to British Airways' CEO, Bob Ayling, the new airline would, "quickly become a favourite with the budget traveller" via its pricing scheme and available flights.[4] The new airline would be run separately from British Airways as a wholly-owned subsidiary and would compete in the European low-cost market, dominated by Ryanair, EasyJet and Debonair.

Barbara Cassani, who had been the British Airways General Manager in New York and had been credited with turning around the airline's flagging fortunes on the transatlantic market in the early 1990s, was chosen by Bob Ayling to set up the new venture. The airline was named Go Fly Limited in February 1998 after a lengthy debate over how to choose a name that would best suit the positioning of this new airline, which was already facing challenges from EasyJet[5] and Virgin,[6] among others.

The fleet consisted of Boeing 737s. The first two, 737-300s G-IGOC and G-IGOE,[7] were initially acquired via lease from Philippine Airlines.[8] A fourth plane, a 737-3Q8 G-IGOF was leased in May 1998.[7]

On 22 May 1998, Go flew for the first time, from its base at Stansted Airport to Rome Ciampino. As part of their campaign against Go, the founder of EasyJet Stelios Haji-Ioannou and nine other EasyJet staff booked tickets for the flight, arriving in orange boiler suits.[7][9] Other early routes were to Copenhagen, Milan, Bologna and Lisbon.[7] In July flights to Glasgow were started, then to Munich in November and Venice in December 1998, followed by Málaga, Faro, Bilbao in April 1999 and Madrid.[7]

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