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Air Europe was a wholly privately owned, independent British airline, established in 1978 under the working title Inter European Airways. It adopted the Air Europe name the following year. Its head office was in Reigate, Surrey, then in Crawley, West Sussex.
Its main operating base was at London Gatwick Airport where it commenced commercial airline operations in May 1979 with three brand-new Boeing 737-200 Advanced jet aircraft.Air Europe was the brainchild of Errol Cossey and Martin O'Regan, two former Dan-Air executives, and Harry Goodman, who had founded Intasun Leisure during the early 1970s. Goodman became the airline's main private financial backer, and in so doing expanded his role as chairman of the International Leisure Group (ILG), the parent company of both companies.Air Europe was the main supplier of charter seats to Intasun Leisure, which grew during the 1980s to become the UK's second-largest package tour operator (after the market leader Thomson).
Air Europe expanded during the 1980s with a major scheduled presence on short-haul European trunk routes taking off and landing at London Gatwick.
Towards the end of the decade it became the first non-state incepted airline to become pan-European, setting up subsidiaries elsewhere in Europe and it acquired two small airlines, forming the nucleus of a new Air Europe Express regional airline subsidiary. The acquired slots at Gatwick enabled it to increase frequencies as well as launch new scheduled routes. By the end of the decade it had become Gatwick's largest resident airline operator.Air Europe's success came to an end – the cost of borrowing rose (to the detriment of highly debt-leveraged companies) and financial problems beset its parent company from late 1989 thus ILG and its UK-based subsidiaries — including Air Europe — went bankrupt on 8 March 1991.