Channel Express History

The airlines beginnings...

1971
  • Art Carpenter sets up Carpenter's Air Services and Carpenter's Transport Ltd to fly fragrant flowers from Guernsey (famous for the Battle of the Flowers) to the UK, and onwards to wholesale markets.
1975
  • Art Carpenter joins forces with Guernsey exporters to create Express Air Freight. The famous Douglas DC3 helped to fly produce, flowers and freight between the Channel Islands and the UK.
1978
  • Express Air Freight buys its first Handley Page Dart Herald, the inspiration for the groups current name "Dart Group PLC." The aircraft 'darts' into action between Bournemouth and the Channel Islands!
1979
  • Art Carpenter forms Express Air Services to take over the cargo aircraft operation from Express Air Freight.
1980
  • Express Air Services secures its first contract with the Royal Mail, for the speedy delivery of first class mail between Bournemouth, Bristol and Liverpool Airports.
1983
  • Philip Meeson, an expert pilot who trained in the Royal Air Force and a five-time British Aerobatics Champion, purchases the `Express` companies. We get a great new name too `Channel Express`.

1984
  • Channel Express invests in cooling equipment, cold stores and temperature controlled vehicles. This helps to make our flowers even fresher.

1985
  • Channel Express secures overnight parcel contracts with TNT. We acquire our third Handley Page Dart Herald to carry time-sensitive airfreight between Birmingham, Nuremburg and Hanover.

1986
  • Channel Express creates 'Super' Dart Herald aircraft with improved instruments and avionics capable of delivering a payload of nearly 6 tonnes each.

1987
  • Channel Express delivers for express parcel carriers, the Guernsey Post Office, Royal Mail and newspaper publishers. It's 'super' news all round, as we expand our 'Super' Dart Herald aircraft fleet too. The Group also expands its consolidation centres in both the Channel Islands and the UK.

1988
  • Channel Express Group Ltd floats on the UK Unlisted Securities Market (USM) to raise capital for our ambitious expansion plans. Immediately after it floats, almost 11.2 million ordinary shares are in issue. We also secure more Royal Mail and UPS contracts, increasing our workforce to 200 colleagues.

1989
  • Channel Express (Air Services) purchases the first of five Lockheed L-188 Electra freighter aircraft. Capable of carrying a 15 tonne payload, it can be loaded in 25 minutes and flies at 330 knots. We set off for pastures new, flying to key European routes for UPS, TNT and DHL.

1990
  • Channel Express issues a further one million shares to buy Benair Freight Ltd, an international freight management company. It gives Channel Express an international presence with multinational bases. We also use the Fokker F27 for our new operation for Fedex between Birmingham and Brussels.

1991
  • Channel Express Group PLC gets a great new name `Dart Group PLC.` The name honours the Rolls-Royce Dart engines that are so invaluable to the Group's forays into the air. Dart Group PLC moves to the Official List of the London Stock Exchange. The company`s shareholders take up a further 2.75 million ordinary shares to raise funds for expansion, with 15.25 million ordinary shares now in issue.

1992
  • Channel Express is the first to win the containerised night mail contract for the Royal Mail. We put our new Electra aircraft into action for this time-sensitive operation between London Stansted and Edinburgh.

1995
  • Channel Express (Air Services) completes a six month contract for the Italian Post Office. The contract is a total success; with our aircraft making swift deliveries between Genoa, Sardinia, Sicily and Rome.

1996
  • Dart Group PLC purchases the Airbus A300-B4, a 257 passenger aircraft that was the world`s first twin-engine widebody jet airliner. We convert ours into freighters with a mighty moniker the Eurofreighter. Fowler Welch also adds a new warehouse at its Spalding headquarters, as well as a lovely new logo and livery.

1997
  • The Eurofreighter carries out daily 45 tonne deliveries from Sweden to Luxembourg on behalf of Panalpina. It's also used for a weekly Stansted to Tel Aviv service for British Airways World Cargo. Fowler Welch expands its Spalding warehouse and we split our shares two for one, meaning there are now more than 32 million ordinary shares in issue.

1998
  • Channel Express is called upon by the major delivery providers UPS and DHL. We`re also awarded Type Rating Training Organisation (TRTO) approval by the CAA and Joint Airworthiness Requirements (JAR 145).

1999
  • Dart Group PLC purchases Coolchain to deliver even more fresh produce, packaging and warehousing. We also open a new consolidation centre in Portsmouth. We form Fowler Welch BV as a Netherlands company and Channel Express Parts Trading to supply aircraft parts to other airlines. A further 1.6 million shares are placed for Dart Group PLC. This brings the total in issue to 34 million.

2001
  • Dart Group PLC purchases two Boeing 737-300QC `Quick Change` aircraft in May 2001. This new aircraft would go on to inspire the launch of Jet2.com as its `Quick Change` (QC) system can transform from a 148-passenger to a 16 tonne payload freighter aircraft in 30 minutes. We also add new ACAS avionics to our Fokker F27 aircraft and introduce a tracking IT system for Fowler Welch.

2002
  • Jet2.com, the leading low cost leisure airline, is launched! After the success of our chartered service, we announce that the first Jet2.com flight will take off in February 2003. Dart Group PLC purchases a further eight Boeing 737-300QCs. We also purchase a fourth Airbus A300-B4 for cargo. Jet2.com opens for business on 11th December 2002. It sells 12,000 seats online within the first 24 hours!

2003
  • Since 2003 Jet2.com has continued to grow and now includes Jet2holidays, the name Channel Express was dropped entirely by January 2006 and all subsidaries now operate under the brand name Jet2.

    The name Channel Express was archived but lives on in the memories of many an aviator and here... virtually !