- Two Dornier 328 aircraft in British Airways colors belong to SUN-AIR of Scandinavia, a franchise partner of British Airways.
- SUN-AIR operates flights across Europe from its base in Billund Airport.
- Passengers on SUN-AIR-operated flights receive the same loyalty benefits within British Airways’ Executive Club and On Business programs.
Keen plane spotters in London and Manchester might have seen a pretty unusual jet flying in British Airways colors. In fact, the two aircraft are some of the more challenging BA planes to spot, given the fact they are based overseas.
A British Airways franchise partner
The two Dornier 328s actually belong to SUN-AIR of Scandinavia A/S, which operates flights across Europe from its base at Billund Airport (BLL). The airline is a longstanding (and the only remaining) franchise partner of British Airways. This means it uses British Airways branding and flight codes and must match the legacy carrier’s customer service, quality, and hospitality standards. SUN-AIR excels at this and offers all its passengers complimentary food, snacks, and drinks.
Photo: SUN-AIR of Scandanavia
From its base on the Danish mainland of Jutland, SUN-AIR operates flights across the continent, primarily tailored to business travelers, and currently serves two destinations in the United Kingdom. Some of the routes are also operated in codeshare British Airways’ oneworld alliance partners Finnair and Qatar Airways.
Following the COVID-19 pandemic, which shuttered its operations, the carrier reinstated flights to London City Airport (LCY) in September 2022. The next month, it resumed operations from Billiund to Manchester. The weekday service previously carried over 460,000 passengers to and from Billund. The Danish city is famously the home of Lego, the original Legoland theme park, and serves as a gateway to the broader Jutland region.
Passengers flying on SUN-AIR-operated flights are provided the same loyalty benefits within the British Airways Executive Club and On Business programs that they would be if flying on one operated by the UK flag carrier itself.
How did the partnership happen?
SUN-AIR took its name from the first three letters (and pilot callsign) of its founder, Niels Sundberg. Beginning in 1978 with taxi flights, renovation, and aircraft trading, the airline developed into a regional airline by 1987. In August 1996, SUN-AIR entered into a franchise partnership with British Airways, becoming the first regional airline outside Great Britain to sign a franchise agreement with British Airways. To celebrate the announcement, British Airways flew one of its Concordes to Copenhagen for the launch. Two of its main UK links remain today: the Billund-Manchester route, which opened in 1997, and the Billund-London City route, which followed in 2009.
The British Airways liveried aircraft followed shortly after that when British Airways presented its new “Corporate Identity” the following year, which applied to its Danish franchise partner. The tails of the SUN-AIR aircraft originally featured a design by Danish artist Per Arnoldi before eventually being redesigned to incorporate the Union Jack.
Where do they fly?
Today, the airline flies from Manchester and London City to Billund. From there, passengers can connect to Gothenberg or Dusseldorf, which begins on Monday, November 6th. The route will launch with four weekly return flights from Monday to Thursday and will be flown with the company’s Dornier 328 Jet in British Airways livery. Dusseldorf passengers can also opt for a one-stop connection via London City in collaboration with BA Cityflyer, which can be combined with the direct route. Sun-Air’s CEO Niels Sundberg shared the reasoning behind choosing the German city as the next destination:
“It is gratifying that we can now add another European destination to our network. At the same time, it is a clear signal that we are constantly focusing on expanding our route network in cooperation with British Airways.
“Since the restart of our route network in September 2022, we have experienced great support for our routes between Billund and Gothenburg, London City and Manchester from the Jutland business community, which has given us the confidence to restart another route and this time between Billund and Düsseldorf.”
In addition to its primary franchise operations, the airline has a charter jet arm under the brand JoinJet. The charter division has three additional Dornier 328 aircraft that operate on a range of missions from executive transport to business travel, sports team transport, and ambulance flights in Denmark and abroad. Several aircraft are also available for leasing to other airlines as needed.
- IATA/ICAO Code:
- Airline Type:
- Full Service Carrier
- London Heathrow Airport, London Gatwick Airport
- Year Founded:
- Airline Group:
- Sean Doyle
- United Kingdom
- Loyalty Program:
- British Airways Executive Club