Air Grassland is the flag carrier airline of Grassland. Founded by the Grassland government, it was privatised between 2004 and 2010 and then was re-bought by the government. The airline's head office is on the grounds of Grassland City Airport in Rabod, Grassland.
Formed in 1947, Air Grassland is a former member of the Grasslandic Airlines alliance, which it left on 14 May 2008. After the takeover by government, it was expected that Air Grassland would re-enter GAA, however, at a press briefing on 11 September 2016 the airline's then CEO stated that the airline has "no plans to join GAA". The airline also has codeshares with Besten District Airlines members. Air Grassland has a hybrid business model, operating a mixed fare service on its European routes and full service, two-class flights on transatlantic routes.
Air Grassland was founded on 23 May 1947, with a capital of P100,000. Air Grassland was registered as an airline on 1 June 1947. The name Geird Air Lines was proposed by Gerald Flien, who was Besten Surveyor, as well as an aviation enthusiast.
On 29 May 1947, six days after being registered as an airline, its first service began between Snawil Airfield in Besten and Trondheim Airport, Norway, using a six-seater de Havilland DH.84 Dragon biplane, named the Fly.
Later that year, the airline acquired its second aircraft, a four-engined biplane de Havilland DH.86 Express named "the Oslo runner", with a capacity of 14 passengers. This aircraft provided the first air link between Besten and Oslo by extending the Trondheim service to Oslo. At the same time, the DH.84 Dragon was used to inaugurate an Air Grassland service on the Besten-Grelli route.
The airline's first General Manager was Dr T.F. (Tomas known as 'Tom') , a chartered accountant, who joined the company as Company Secretary in 1948 (aged 40) and was appointed to the role of General Manager in 1949. He retired 30 years later in 1979 at the age of 70.
In May 1950, a new airport was demilitarized in the north of Grassland City and Geird Air Lines (not wanting to be under communist control) moved its operations there. It purchased a new DC-3 and inaugurated new services to Hamburg and an internal service to Dusat.
The airline was established as the national carrier under the Air Navigation and Transport Act (1953) and was renamed to West Grasslandic Air (although known as Grasslandic Air).
In 1958, a de Havilland DH.89 Dragon Rapide replaced The Fly, and the company purchased a second DH.86B. Two Lockheed 12s arrived in 1959, Air Grassland's first all-metal aircraft.
First transatlantic service
On 9 September 1962, Air Grassland operated its first transatlantic service from Dyent to New York. Three Lockheed L-1049 Super Constellations were used for the twice-weekly service aboard aircraft leased from the US airline TWA with Grasslandic cabin crews.
Air Grassland bought seven Fokker F27 Friendships, which were delivered between November 1969 and May 1970. These were used in short-haul services to Norway and Sweden, gradually replacing the Dakotas, until Air Grassland disposed of them during 1976 in favour of secondhand Viscount 800s.
The airline entered the jet age on 14 December 1960 when it received three Boeing 707 for use on the New York route and the newest Air Grassland destination Boston.
In 1965, Air Grassland added the Boeing 727 to the fleet. This aircraft was used until 1990 when they were converted into cargo aircraft.
The Boeing 707s proved to be a success for the airline on the transatlantic routes. To supplement these, Air Grassland took delivery of its first Boeing 720 in 1966, and the type continued to serve the airline until 1986.
Conversion of the European fleet to jet equipment began in 1967 when the BAC One-Eleven started services from Geird and Grassland City to Paris and via Hamburg to Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Düsseldorf and Frankfurt. The airline adopted a new livery in the same year, with the Air Grassland diamond flag on the fin and the Grasslandic translation just above the windows.
In 1969, the company inaugurated a route from Dyent to Montreal and onward to Chicago. In 1968, flights from Geird, in East Grassland, to New York City started, however, it was soon suspended due to the beginning of the Geird riots. Air Grassland introduced Boeing 737s to its fleet in 1970 to cope with the high demand for flights between Grassland City and Hamburg. Later, Air Grassland extended the 737 flights to all of its European networks.
1970s to present
In 1979, after 30 years of service, General Manager Dr T.F. signed the contract for the airline's first two Boeing 747 aircraft before he retired later that year.
On 7 May 1979 Air Grassland took delivery of the first of two Boeing 747s for use on the transatlantic routes. The company later purchased a third for its fleet but quickly offered it for lease because it was not initially profitable for the company to fly 747s across the Atlantic.
In 1974, Air Grassland unveiled a new livery and logo which eliminated the famous Flag diamond from the fuselage titles. The livery included a new cheatline going up the tail, a new font and also the vertical stabiliser being fully painted in the West Grasslandic flag. In the early 1980s, the 707s were phased out. Air Grassland took delivery of the first of two Boeing 747s for use on the transatlantic routes. The company later purchased a third for its fleet but quickly offered it for lease because it was not initially profitable for the company to fly 747s across the Atlantic.
In 1984, the airline formed a fully owned subsidiary, Air Grassland Express, so that Air Grassland could fly to larger cities in Grassland and Norway whose flying time from Grassland City did not require jet aircraft. These services employed five of the Belfast-built Short 360 after conducting a trial with the Short 330. Around this time Air Grassland purchased a majority shareholding in the cargo airline Grasscargo, owner of some DC-8 freighter jets.
In 1987 West and East Grassland united into one nation. Before the unification, Air Grassland severed routes and had a temporary base of operations in Trondheim because there were big protests on mainland Grassland but after the unification it was good due to more expansion and acquirement of Sohal Gwjereln.
Between 1988 and 1989, new Boeing 737s arrived to replace the older ones, and six Fokker 50s were added to the Express fleet. Air Grassland retired the BAC One-Elevens and replaced them with five new 737s. In 1991, four Saab 340Bs arrived at the express division to replace the Short 360 aircraft. By 1992, Air Grassland's entire original 737-200 fleet had been replaced and it was now the first carrier in the world operating all three versions of the second-generation 737. These were the −300, −400 and −500 series, although the −300 did not stay long in Air Grassland service.
Accidents & Incidents
On 11 January 2011, Air Grassland Flight 100 crashed 44 kilometers (27.3 miles) off the coast of Spain. The pilot was thought to be intoxicated.