UK CHARTER CARRIER Excalibur Airways has been sold to a Scottish long-haul tour-operator, Globespan, virtually completing the recent spate of vertical integration taking place within the industry.

No price is given for the sale of the East Midlands-based airline, which was owned by its five directors, together with venture-capital company 3i and Air Malta.

Globespan says that it had found increasing difficulty in obtaining spare long-haul capacity in the UK to support its expansion, and had been involved in talks with Excalibur over the airline's plans to offer such services with the acquisition of two McDonnell Douglas DC-10-30s.

Excalibur chief executive Bob O'Donnell, also confirms that the airline plans to reduce its Airbus Industrie A320 narrow body fleet, down to no more than three aircraft, in response to the sluggish short-haul demand in the UK holiday market.

If Excalibur effectively emerges as a captive in-house airline, it will greatly narrow the options for smaller tour operators on the look out for free short-haul capacity next season.

Source: Flight International