Before I start with the story, I made another Belgian aviation history topic before: The Ghost MiG Over Belgium . Check it out if you want to.
To start off, we have to go back to the late 1970s. More specifically, the 27th of May 1978. On this date, Unijet Benelux was established by it’s French parent company Unijet France. This French company was owned by Marcel Dassault, the founder of the precursor to Dassault Aviation.
Unijet Benelux started out with three Dassault Falcon 20 aircraft based out of Brussels (BRU/EBBR) and Charleroi (CRL/EBCI). These three aircraft were used for air-taxi and executive transport.
|Falcon (Mystère) 20C
|Falcon (Mystère) 20GF
|Falcon (Mystère) 20E
Image Source (Kurt Kolb).
On the 28th of October 1981, Unijet Benelux was split from it’s parent company and rebranded to BFS International, or Benelux Falcon Service (International).
The company would continue to fly it’s three Falcon 20 aircraft in the form of air-taxi and executive services until the 21st of April 1986, when the last of the Falcons was sold. The company then ceased commercial flying activities.
This would last until August 1991, when BFS International would start operating two Fokker F27 freighters on behalf of Federal Express Corporation (now FedEx Express).
Image Source (Freek Blokzijl).
These two aircraft would be operated in FedEx Europe colours until April 1992, when the American company dropped the intra European parcel network. This again, caused the company to ceasing commercial flying activities.
A few months later however, on the 5th of October 1992, BFS International started leasing a Boeing 757-200 from Sunrock Aircraft Corporation, an Irish company. This aircraft would be used on behalf of other operators, having it’s first revenue flight on the 6th of February 1993 from Munich (MUC/EDDM).
Image Source (bertrand leduc).
These operations wouldn’t last long however, as by the 15th of June 1993, the aircraft would already be stored. This would, once again, cease the company’s commercial flying activities.
On the 7th of February 1995, the company made yet another comeback. It was now rebranded to Constellation International Airlines, and would perform passenger charters to mainly Mediterranean destinations.
On the 23rd of June 1995, the first airframe would be leased, a Boeing 727-200. This would be followed up a few weeks later by another aircraft of the same type.
Image Source (Hanys).
On the 1st of July 1995, international passenger charters were started from Brussels (BRU/EBBR).
In 1996, the Boeing 727s were joined by two Boeing 737-300 aircraft. These two planes were leased from JAT Yugoslav Airlines and based in Palma (PMI/LEPA). However these planes would not become operational until two months after the lease started due to EU embargos on Yugoslavia.
Image Source (Javier Rodriguez).
These aircraft would be used for operations to Germany, Italy and Greece. They would not stay in the fleet for long however, as they were returned to JAT in June and October of 1996.
In 1997, the noisy Boeing 727s would slowly be replaced by a couple of A320 aircraft.
These aircraft were in fact the first A320 family aircraft in the Benelux, making Constellation International Airlines the first operator of the type in the Benelux, two years before Sabena (the then Belgian flag carrier).
The three A320s that were added to the fleet were delivered almost a year apart from each other. One on the 7th of May 1997, the next on the 24th of April 1998, and the last one on the 1st of April 1999.
Image Source (Marco Dotti).
These three aircraft were leased from International Lease Finance Corporation (ILFC) and Airbus Financial Services (AFS).
The three A320s would be joined by an additional A321, this was to cope with the busy summer season of 1999.
This aircraft was leased from the British airline British Midland. It was in the fleet from the 28th of June 1998 until the 4th of October 1999.
Constellation International Airlines, like many Belgian airlines before and after it, would have financial troubles throughout it’s life. These troubles would prove to be fatal however, and on the 3rd of December 1999, all operations would be ceased. On the 15th of December 1999, the company would officially be declared bankrupt.
That was the story of the fairly minor Belgian carrier Constellation International Airlines. It was, again, very interesting doing research for this topic. I learned quite a few things like I did last time.
I quite like making these Belgian aviation history topics, both for myself and anyone who is interested in reading them of course.
Here are the sources I used for this story: