Airlines Remembered

Air Hollland (1)

Photos © Ruud Leeuw

Ceased operations: 03Oct91
Homebase: Amsterdam IAP - Schiphol, the Netherlands
Founded: 1984
ICAO callsign: Air Holland
Prefix IATA: HD / ICAO: AHD
Operations: Passengers



On a rainy, dismal day at Amsterdam IAP we see here an Air Holland 727 facing a Martinair DC-9-30: a symbolic pose ! It took 5 years for Air Holland to receive its operating permit, no doubt Martinair and Transavia did their best to convince the Dutch Aviation Authorities Rijks Luchtvaart Dienst - RLD) that the Dutch market could not sustain a 3rd charter company. But the day arrived that Air Holland proudly parked its aircraft, on EHAM, facing those of Martinair and Transavia. There was much gnashing of teeth...
The three 727s operated were: PH-AHB (c/n 20739/952), PH-AHD (c/n 20822/996) and PH-AHZ (21021/1082).


Boeing 757 PH-AHE is seen here taking off from runway 24 at Amsterdam IAP. This particular 757 remained faithful thru Air Holland "one", "two" and "three".

Air Holland was founded in 1984 and things progressed swiftly from there: while initially approved for operations from Maastricht IAP in the Netherlands, upon start up Air Holland was firmly planted at "Schiphol". And the old Boeing 727s were replaced by modern 757s only 3 years later. The other Dutch charter operators, Transavia and Martinair, did not like it one bit...
In 1989 Air Holland also found a way to start weekly flights to Kenya: Air Holland leased an aircraft plus crew once a week to Kenia Flamingo Airways, a (paper) subsidairy of Kenia Airways.
During 1990 Transavia attempted to take over Air Holland but the attempt failed.
A 20% share was taken in Air Aruba and things became very clear: Air Holland was not satisfied with short haul operations but also intended to fully participate in long haul operations.

Air Holland was started with funding by oil company Transol (through Transol Investments), but Transol reduced its share of 80% to aproximately 35% after the first few years and upon the purchase of the new Boeing 757s. President and founder of the company was John Block, who also had helped Martin Schröder getting his Martinair of the ground. The history between these two men is interesting to say the least: their ways seperated after 7 years when two captains on the ship with Martinair proved to be impossible and John Block started Transavia, selling his shares lucratively after a number of years. Later, he started JetStar and introduced the use of executive jet travel in Holland. But Block returned to the bigger scheme of things with Air Holland (Arke and Neckermann were the big tour operators supporting Air Holland) and a fierce competition resulted. There was no love lost between the two Captains of Industry, but respect for each others abilities and common business sense prevailed.
The Boeing 727s played a role in obtaining the permit to operate from Amsterdam. The Operators Certificate stipulated operations from regional airports such as Rotterdam and Maastricht, except for those flights which needed the longer runways of Amsterdam; quite purposely John Block selected 727s with PW JT8D-9A engines (though PH-AHZ had -17 engines) which needed all the concrete Amsterdam could offer.... By the time the Boeing 757s were delivered, Air Holland had settled permanently at Amsterdam.

In conjunction with Air Aruba, flights from the Dutch Antilles were started, using a Boeing 767-200 PH-AHM in Air Aruba livery, leased from Britannia Airways (G-BYAA). Destinations Amsterdam and Cologne were flown to but passengers did not flock to these flights and the experiment for Air Holland lasted only a few months.

Aircraft operated were: Boeing 757s: PH-AHE (24135/165), PH-AHF (24136/169), PH-AHI (24137/178), PH-AHK (24291/215) and PH-AHL (24838/302). A Boeing 757 in Air Aruba livery was also used: G-IEAB (24636/256).

In 1991 Air Holland had to cease operations. In September John Block resigned from the board and the financial director A.R.Marx took over. While 1989-1990 had ended with a profit (DFL 7.3 million), 1990-1991 ended with a horrific loss: DFL 30 million ! The (first) Gulf War was seen as a major cause, but fingers were also pointed to the management of the company. Early October 1991 it was curtains for Air Holland.

But that same month, news hit the media that Air Holland was to return to the skies and on Friday 20Dec91 a Boeing 757 took off from Amsterdam for destination Tenerife like nothing had happened. But that was to become the story of Air Holland Regional, renamed Air Holland Charter !

Sources:
JP Airline Fleets, 1987 and 1990 edition


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Last updated 23.11.2005