Featured image: Udo Haafke/GFDL 1.2

5/18/1981: International Air Bahama Ceases Operations

DALLAS – Today, in 1981, The independent passenger carrier International Air Bahama ceased operations.

Founded as Air Bahama in 1966 by Major Norman Ricketts, Brigadier General OD Lassiter and Mr Tommie Thompson, the trio decided to set up an airline after Sir Lynden Pindling, the Prime Minister of the Bahamas, looked at developing tourism in the archipelago.

The airline’s Chief Executive was Alexander Mailis. Mailis helped source a Boeing 707-300 (N525EJ), leased from Executive Jet Aviation. Operations then commenced on July 20, 1968.

Scheduled flights were offered from Nassau (NAS) to Luxembourg (LUX). LUX offered a useful and affordable entry point for United States military personnel’s families stationed in neighbouring Germany.

International Air Bahama also operated charter flights to Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Paris, Shannon, Basel, Stockholm and Reykjavik.

The airlines Boeing 707 pictured at London Gatwick. Photo: Ken Fielding, CC BY-SA 3.0

Icelandic Takeover

In March 1969, the airline was sold to Hekla Holdings of Loftleidir Icelandic Airlines (LL), as the company fitted with LL’s pioneering low-cost transatlantic operation. Following the sale, a rebranding saw the carrier renamed ‘International Air Bahama.’

The 707 was subsequently returned to the lessor and replaced by a Douglas DC-8 (N8630). The airline christened the jet ‘Eleutheran Adventurer’ after the English group who were expelled from Bermuda and subsequently developed a new colony on the island of Eleuthra.

However, with the airline’s Icelandic owner struggling financially, this left the Bahamian carrier in a precarious situation. LL would be merged with rival Flugfélag Íslands to form Icelandair (FI) in 1979. With the new airline looking to improve its own financial position, further cash injections were no longer forthcoming, and International Air Bahama was forced to declare bankruptcy.

The featured Image shows an International Air Bahama McDonnell Douglas DC-8-63CF @ Luxembourg-Findel International Airport.

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