Dart Group history

  • Distinct Jet2.com tail fins at Manchester airport

  • The Channel Express display at the Guernsey Battle of Flowers

  • Our trusty Douglas DC-3 back on solid ground!

  • Our Handley Page Dart Herald soars over the golden beaches of Guernsey

  • Our vibrant flowers on show in Covent Garden

  • Night time deliveries for our right royal contract with Royal Mail

  • Philip Meeson keeps his eyes on the prize with a top Marlboro sponsorship

  • Philip is 'in the loop' as the British five-time aerobatic champion!

  • Flowers as far as the eye can see in great greenhouses

  • Loading flowers for transport to a table near you!

  • Extracting the heat from our flowers before they fly

  • The ever reliable Handley Page Herald aircraft

  • Our livery matches the sporting green of Guernsey

  • Channel Express celebrates Guernsey Post Office's 25 year anniversary

  • Our flower conveyor stacks up success

  • Channel Express Electra

  • The electrifying sight of the Channel Express Electra!

  • Channel Express is ready to hit the road!

  • Our Benair vans are ready to roll

  • Our F27 makes a fabulous sight in the sky

  • Our Dart Group logo

  • The Lockheed Electra steals the limelight

  • Royal Mail relies on us to provide the answers in the post

  • An F27 ready and poised for a mail delivery

  • The Fowler Welch logo, complete with flowers, fruit and vegetables to match our deliveries

  • We catch the bus! It's our Airbus A300-B4 Eurofreighter

  • Here we go collecting night cargo for DHL

  • A Fowler Welch truck returning to depot

  • Our First off the ground ad, about the huge capacity of the Eurofreighter

  • Our amazingly modern Fowler Welch warehouses are equipped for action

  • A clever conversion carrying charter passengers as well as cargo

  • It's onwards and UPS-wards for us with this delivery provider contract

  • Channel Express air crew ready to serve our passengers in the sky

  • Fowler Welch loading up at Portsmouth docks

  • The 'part' of something big with our parts trading department

  • Fresh fruits, always delivered with care

  • One of our new Fowler Welch-Coolchain trailers hits the road to the Channel Islands

  • A Benair bike courier ready to make a speedy delivery

  • Benair freight, loading a oversized cargo

  • Our quick change aircraft - it's the idea that helped create Jet2.com!

  • A view from inside a quick change aircraft - we're able to change from passenger to cargo aircraft in 30 minutes

  • We keep track of the changes with our trailer tracking technology

  • Jet2.com is born, with its vibrant red logo!

  • Some of our very first passengers arriving

  • Beautiful Amsterdam, Jet2.com's first destination

  • We scan the UK to distribute mail after it has been scanned with our specialist equipment

  • Jet2.com sets up a brand new base at Manchester Airport

  • The Newcastle airport sales desk in the bright red tones of Jet2.com

  • Fowler Welch, a noticeable presence on the UK's roads

  • Blackpool International Airport, our fifth base

  • We've got a great way to catch attention! Here's Freddie, an early Jet2.com promotion

  • See the sunset strewn logo of Jet2holidays

  • Promoting brands - a Fowler Welch truck with a Jet2.com trailer

  • Our millionth passenger from Manchester Airport! That's another major milestone

  • Passengers looking forward to our inaugural flight to New York

  • One of our many promotions, ever increasing the Jet2.com profile

  • Fowler Welch making fast moving deliveries to major supermarkets

  • Another major upgrade to the Fowler Welch fleet

  • Jet2holidays flying high

  • Celebrating with our 20 millionth passenger!

  • We help lift off rescue lions to their new home in Yorkshire Wildlife Park

  • We show 'pride' by naming our plane after rescued lion Jettoo!

  • The modern bright lights of our Fowler Welch warehouse

  • The largest aircraft in our fleet - the 757-200

  • We take a starring role with our Jet2.com TV adverts

  • See the sprawling size of the Fowler Welch Spalding Head Office

  • Investment in our Cabin Crew of the future with our new aviation academy

  • Jet2.com voted Best Short Haul Airline in the Globe Travel Awards 2012

  • Behind the scenes of our latest TV advert

  • Putting the customers at the heart of everything we do

  • We're proud to display our ever-growing number of Jet2.com destinations

  • Our winner Paul is all set to 'drag' himself on his Party Plane!

  • The party is about to really take off onboard with Paul

  • We're all smiles as we collect our award at Benidorm World Tourism Day 2013

  • We take the stage to collect a prestigious Northern Ireland Travel & Tourism Award

  • Jet2.com celebrates the treble at the Globe Travel Awards 2014!

 

Share the story of Dart Group PLC

Here at Dart Group PLC, we're very proud of our incredibly diverse history. It's been a very exciting journey to get where we are today! We've gone from delivering flowers of every colour in the rainbow to flying passengers over them with our ever-growing fleet of aircraft. At a pace that matches our speedy deliveries, Dart Group PLC has expanded with its three successful companies.

Jet2.com now operates more than 150 routes from bases at eight Northern UK airports. Sister company Jet2holidays offers over 1,000 hotels at more than 40 city and sun destinations. Plus, Fowler Welch is now one of the UK leaders for supply fast moving goods to the top supermarkets.

Such a flying success has been nurtured for over 40 years. Read on and you'll discover how we grew as a Group, with many interesting tales along the way. We invite you to share our story:

The 1970s – Sowing the seeds of success

1971 Art Carpenter gets his company off the ground

Our story starts in 1971, when Art Carpenter sets up Carpenter's Air Services and Carpenter's Transport Ltd. He focuses his companies on flying radiant arrays of flowers from Guernsey to the UK mainland, and onwards to the wholesale markets. It's a process that Channel Express will go on to perfect from 1983 onwards (see for yourself further down this page).

Guernsey was a great place for growing flowers thanks to its long sun-filled summers and mild winters. Steady rainfall throughout the year was a big help too! The island's connection with all things floral still survives today, especially at the annual Battle of Flowers held every August. Started to commemorate Liberation Day from the German occupation after World War II, the event features many huge, vibrantly coloured flower floats.

1975 A new name for the Art of flying flowers

Art Carpenter joins forces with Guernsey exporters to create Express Air Freight. Carrying out similar duties to the previous companies, Express Air Freight flies produce, flowers and freight between the Channel Islands and the UK.

Here's another interesting little detail about the company – the contracted cargo aircraft it used included the famous Douglas DC-3. An amazingly durable aircraft, it first took flight in 1935. To highlight its reliability, it remained in service with airlines around the world for over 50 years.

1978 Here comes the Handley Page Dart Herald!

Here at Dart Group PLC, we have a great affection for the aircraft that have served us over the years. That's why you'll be interested to know that we're even named after aircraft engines! This heritage traces back to 1978, when Express Air Freight bought its first Handley PageDart Herald aircraft. First built in 1959, the aircraft was an exceptional freighter, with outstanding short haul reliability and powerful Rolls-Royce Dart turboprop engines.

In this same year, the aircraft 'darts' into action and begins flying between Bournemouth and the Channel Islands.

1979 New Services take to the skies

Art Carpenter forms Express Air Services to take over the cargo aircraft operation from Express Air Freight.

As we enter the eighties, things are going to get bigger and better in the story of Dart Group PLC. Ever wondered how flowers arrive in your bouquet in tiptop condition? It's not as simple as you may think. Read on and you'll find out!

The 1980s – Philip Meeson puts the business in full bloom

1980 Express Air Services wins a very regal contract

Express Air Services secures its first contract with the Royal Mail, the UK's largest postal operator. Royal Mail relies on Express Air Services for the on-time delivery of first class mail between Bournemouth, Bristol and Liverpool Airports.

It's a success story from the very get-go, as Royal Mail are delighted with the punctuality and reliability of the Dart Herald. It can carry 5.5 tonnes of urgent mail overnight for impressively fast next day delivery.

If we may say so ourselves, this year marks the start of a beautiful relationship between Royal Mail and us. It's one that continues to this very day as the prestigious postal company relies on our nighttime deliveries, as we soar towards the stars while the UK sleeps below.

It's also the start of another tip-top partnership as one of our longest serving directors, Andrew Menzies joins us at the beginning of the exciting 80s. Andrew is the main man for maintenance, serving in vital technical roles for Air UK Limited and British Airways Limited before joining us. Throughout his time with the company, Andrew has 'maintained' an impressive commitment to our fleet's fantastic safety and reliability record. As such, he became our Technical Director in 1992 and is still ensuring we're going strong today.

1983 Philip Meeson channels an exciting new chapter for the Express companies

This is the year when things really begin to take off! Philip Meeson, an expert pilot who trained in the Royal Air Force and is a five-time British Aerobatics Champion, purchases the 'Express' group of companies. It is a pivotal moment in our history, as Philip was the Dart Group's Chief Executive Officer and is now our Executive Chairman, being a driving force for continual growth across three decades.

Having already built up a successful vehicle distribution company, Philip's background gives him the experience and expertise to take the Group's deliveries into the stratosphere. Whilst his ability as an Aerobatics pilot may explain why we always run rings around our competitors!

Philip changes his companies' names to reflect their trading activities more accurately:

  • Channel Express (Air Services) Ltd operates two Handley Page Dart Herald aircraft to carry out cargo services between the UK and the Channel Islands, and on nightly Royal Mail operations.
  • Channel Express Ltd distributes Guernsey and Jersey flowers and fresh produce to wholesale markets in the mainland UK.
  • Channel Express (CI) Ltd forwards Guernsey and Jersey flowers and fresh produce to the UK, using the services of its sister companies.

The early days of Channel Express are rich with stories and anecdotes for this budding flower-flying company. If flowers brightened your table in the eighties, there's a good chance they were delivered by Channel Express! So to give you an idea of effort involved in getting vividly bright flowers and fresh produce to your table, we thought we'd describe the process in a nutshell:

Firstly, the story begins on the emerald green fields of Guernsey and Jersey, where huge glasshouses glimmer in the sunlight for as far as your eye can see. Inside these greenhouses, there's a hive of activity as employees work on planting, watering, feeding, cutting and pruning flowers, all at precisely the perfect moment. The temperature and humidity is also constantly checked to create the ideal conditions for wonderfully vibrant flowers.

As our pictures show, it's a real team effort and our colleagues would be ready and waiting to pick up the endless rows of roses, freesias and carnations to fly to the UK. Interestingly, not many people know that the heat picked up in the greenhouses actually has to be extracted from the flowers before they're packed to fly. Once this process is complete they're then ready to be boxed and loaded onto our Handley Page Dart Herald Aircraft.

Our expert pilots then make the 40 minute flight back to Bournemouth in the UK. Our colleagues on the mainland speedily unload the flowers from the aircraft and then pack them into our twin-trailer refrigerated Lorries. From here, they're ready to be delivered to flower wholesalers across the UK, including the famed Covent Garden Flower Market in London, as you'll see in the photos to the left From the Guernsey greenhouse to Covent Garden in around 12 hours!

1984 A cooler way to deliver fresh flowers and produce

Because everyone loves fresh flowers, Channel Express Group Ltd invests in cooling equipment, cold stores and temperature-controlled vehicles. This improves the freshness and extends the life of the Channel Islands flowers and produce being transported to the UK wholesale markets.

These benefits are also invaluable on our return flights bringing food and goods to the Channel Islands. Refrigeration is a huge part of our business, as it keeps everything in a perfect state while we busy ourselves with travelling to destinations on time.

1985 Channel Express Group wins TNT contract

The Channel Express Group secures overnight parcel contracts with TNT, the major worldwide delivery company. TNT relies on Channel Express (Air Services) Ltd to carry time-sensitive documents and airfreight between Birmingham, Nuremburg and Hanover.

To this end, the company acquires its third Handley Page Dart Herald. Ever the reliable aircraft, its impressive short haul performance and ease of loading for loose and palletised cargo is again in much demand for these operations.

Another note on the Herald – if you look closely at our spectacular landing shots of this aircraft, you'll see it has two nose wheels, a major difference to many modern aircraft models. These two wheels proved important in adding much needed stability when landing – especially in the strong crosswinds at Guernsey Airport!

1986 A super start to the year

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it's a 'Super' Dart Herald! To meet the increasing demand for urgent deliveries, Channel Express Group modifies and upgrades its fleet of Handley Page Dart Herald aircraft. We create 'Super' Dart Herald aircraft with improved instruments and avionics capable of delivering a payload of nearly 6 tonnes each.

You'll see in our photo collection that the livery for both our Channel Express aircraft and vehicles was a bright shade of green. This was a conscious choice – as the colour connects us with the traditional sporting colours for the island of Guernsey. A rose by any other name...Can you also see the red rose that forms part of the logo? Philip chose this image to reflect one of our most popular flower deliveries.

1987 The answer's in the post for Channel Express

Channel Express (Air Services) is consistently called upon to deliver for express parcel carriers, the Guernsey Post Office, Royal Mail and newspaper publishers. You may notice that all of these companies have a need for extremely speedy deliveries – well, that's exactly what we're good at!

In fact, it's 'super' news all round, as the outstanding service of Channel Express is in such high demand that the Group expands its 'Super' Dart Herald aircraft fleet.

It's a similar story at the Channel Express Ltd distribution division. To handle the ever-increasing volume of flowers it distributes, the Group expands its consolidation centres in both the Channel Islands and the UK. Look at our photo collection to the left and you'll see that these were very busy places to be! Our daily deliveries of flowers were now so great; the sweet smell of success certainly followed our floral centres.

1988 Channel Express stocks up for success

Channel Express Group Ltd floats on the UK Unlisted Securities Market (USM) to raise capital for our ambitious expansion plans. Immediately after it floats, almost 11.2 million ordinary shares are in issue through stockbrokers, McCaughan Dyson Capel Cure. This step paves the way for a bright future for the Group, as all of our budding divisions really begin to flower.

As a footnote for this success, Channel Express secures yet more Royal Mail contracts within the UK, opening new operating bases in Luton and Birmingham.  It also secures its first overnight contract for UPS, with the upgraded 'Super' Dart Herald delivering increased capacity between Southend and the UPS European hub in Cologne.

The dedicated workforce for the Channel Express group now consists of 200 colleagues, with half of the team based at Bournemouth. Our impressive fleet now features 31 Lorries, 46 temperature-controlled trailers and 7 'Super' Dart Herald aircraft. The aircraft have those 'super' upgrades that improve payloads and avionics, whilst our temperature-controlled trailers are essential for keeping things nice and cool. We're sure you agree it takes a great deal of smart investment to have equipment this good!

1989 Look out for the arrival of the Lockheed Electra!

Announcing the arrival of the aircraft that sounds like a superhero – the Lockheed Electra! And it certainly helps us towards heroic efforts of deliveries in 1989. Channel Express (Air Services) purchases the first of 5 Lockheed L-188 Electra freighter aircraft in this year.

Initially built in 1957, the L-188 Electra made its mark on history as the USA's first large turboprop airliner. Capable of carrying a containerised 15 tonne payload, more than double that of the 'Super' Dart Herald, this aircraft could be fully loaded in 25 minutes and flew at 330 knots. The Electra enables the Group to make great strides in increasing efficiency and driving its expansion.

Here's our intriguing story about the Electra - we were the first company in the UK to purchase and fly the aircraft. However, this meant we had to pass all kinds of strict tests to be certified to fly in the UK. The result? We spent 12 weeks in California, achieving a pass in all requirements, including a noise certificate. Once again, we proved that perseverance pays off when it comes to setting the standards that others can only follow.

After first demonstrating its capability in The Golden State of California, and then on the Channel Islands service, the Electra fleet is soon in great demand for its cargo capacity and reliability. We set it off for pastures new, flying to key European routes for UPS, TNT and DHL.

The 'Super' and the Electra sound like a dynamic duo, and they certainly perform as such for us. Our ever-dependable 'Super' Dart Heralds continue to provide a brilliant service on a network of short haul routes. To meet customer demand, Channel Express purchases two more of this trusty aircraft. Channel Express Group's fleet size now stands at nine aircraft.

On the subject of all things dynamic, this is the year that Steve Lee, Jet2.com's Commercial Director, joins the company. Steve joins Channel Express as an Operations Officer following ten fine years in the Royal Air Force in Air Traffic Control. And just like the RAF, Steve certainly moved up the ranks with us, becoming a Commercial Director in 2002. Steve really helps us to soar, and during his 23 years at the company, he's headed up all types of teams, including Revenue, Customer Service, Marketing and IT.

The 1990s – It's onwards and upwards for the newly-named Dart Group

1990 Channel Express becomes friends with the Fokker F27

Channel Express Group issues a further one million shares to buy Benair Freight Ltd. Benair Freight Ltd is an international freight management company, providing solutions for land, sea and airfreight logistics. This acquisition gives Channel Express an international presence with multinational bases.

Channel Express (Air Services) commences operations for Fedex, the global package delivery company, using the Fokker F27 aircraft for timely distribution between Birmingham and Brussels.

First flown in 1955, the Fokker F27 Friendship is another example of an aircraft that is fitted with the trusty Rolls-Royce Dart engine.  The Fokker F27 offers quick loading through 2 doors and delivers payloads of up to 6.3 tonnes. Indeed, such was its success; FedEx continued to use the Fokker F27 until the end of 2009. If you look to the right at our photo collection (taken by expert photographers both in the air and on the ground) you'll spot a scene-stealing picture of the Fokker in flight while the 'Super' Herald Dart is awaiting take-off. What a fabulous photo!

The decade begins dazzlingly for our director appointments too, as this is the year that Ian Doubtfire joins our company. And there's no 'doubt' that Ian instantly makes a positive impact, eventually resulting in him becoming a Channel Express Director in 1994 and a Jet2holidays Director in 2009. As well as taking part in incredible feats of endurance by running marathons for charity, as our current Managing Director Ian has certainly achieved enduring success for us.

1991 Darting for glory as the Group puts its stock in London

Channel Express Group PLC gets a great new name – Dart Group PLC. The name honours the dependable Rolls-Royce Dart engines that are so invaluable to the Group's successful forays into the air. This powerful turboprop engine powers the 'Super' Herald Dart and Fokker F27 aircraft, helping the Group achieve its reputation for reliability.

Despite the new name, Dart Group PLC continues to look after the same companies: Channel Express (Air Services), Channel Express Ltd, Channel Express (CI) Ltd and Benair Freight Ltd.

Dart Group PLC moves to the Official List of the London Stock Exchange. The company's shareholders take up a further 2.75 million ordinary shares in a rights issue to raise funds for financing further expansion. 15.25 million ordinary shares are now in issue, highlighting the Group's drive for growth and continued success.

1992 Channel Express gets there first yet again!

Channel Express is the first to win the containerised night mail contract for the Royal Mail. This job calls for the Electra...we put it straight into action for this highly time-sensitive operation. With an impressive capacity to carry 15 tonnes of mail, the Electra enables Channel Express to reduce flight times and cut turnaround times by half on the key route between London Stansted and Edinburgh.  On arrival in Edinburgh, the aircraft containers are loaded straight onto Royal Mail Lorries for immediate carriage direct to the Glasgow and Edinburgh mail centres. Our overnight deliveries for Royal Mail ensure a service fit for a king!

1994 Dart Group PLC proves more than a fleeting success!

Dart Group PLC adds to its fleet by purchasing the first of seven Fokker F27 aircraft for operation by Channel Express. Having already proved itself during the Group's FedEx contract, the aircraft is extremely popular with a great variety of clients on their 6 tonne routes. This superb aircraft has a larger cargo door for loading in a jiffy. The Fokker also has a further rear door it can be loaded up twice as fast. It also carries higher payloads and flies faster.

If you look at our historic photos, you'll notice that many of our old aircraft often had twin propellers. It's a design which has sadly been phased out with the newer more modern aircraft. The propellers certainly lend the models a classic quality, don't you think?

Credit where it's due - Channel Express (Air Services) gains BS5750 Quality Assurance accreditation in this year. It's a nice pat on the back that proves our systems are working to serve our customers, shareholders and stakeholders.

It's a big year for our distribution division too, as Dart Group PLC acquires Fowler Welch Ltd, a temperature-controlled distribution company based in Spalding, Lincolnshire. The company becomes a major asset to the Group, and goes from strength to strength in achieving its aims of reliable goods delivery. It now makes truckloads of all-important deliveries to the top supermarkets every day. So the next time you're enjoying a tasty meal after your supermarket shop, think of Fowler Welch!

Dart Group PLC changes the name of Benair Freight Ltd to Benair Freight International Ltd. We think this name gives a better hint at the company's worldwide freight operations.

1995 Channel Express says 'buon giorno' to contract for Italian Post Office

Channel Express (Air Services) relies on its superior air power of Super Dart Heralds and Fokker F27s to complete a six month contract for the Italian Post Office. The contract is a total success; with the Channel Express (Air Services) aircraft making swift deliveries between Genoa, Sardinia, Sicily and Rome.

Sardinia and Rome still have a place in our hearts to this very day, as we operate successful Jet2.com flights to both these idyllic Italian destinations. It fits that as we're continually making great history, we should have a route to the 'Eternal City' of Rome!

1996 Dart Group PLC gets on the bus!

This was the year we caught the bus - no, we didn't have a drastic change in fortunes; it's simply that we bought our first Airbus!

Dart Group PLC purchases the Airbus A300-B4, a 257 passenger aircraft. Launched in 1972, the A300 was the world's first twin-engine widebody jet airliner. The aircraft proved to be particularly efficient, saving as much as 30% fuel compared to other aircraft in its class. You'll see in our pictures of the aircraft that it has a huge capacity – 350 cubic metres in fact. We felt that the aircraft was really worth shouting about, as shown in our 'First off the ground' ad.

In another first, the model we owned, the A300-B4 became the first ETOPS aircraft. Although it sounds like the name of a new pop group, ETOPs actually stands for Extended Twin Engine Operations. This gives the A300-B4 more route access, thanks to its consistent performance and impressive safety record.

The huge size of the A300-B4 makes it an incredible freighter, with the ability to carry 45 tonnes in a single payload. Channel Express notes how great it is from the very beginning, so we become the launch customer for Airbus A300 freighter conversion programme by BAE Systems Aviation Services at Filton, Bristol. Once the conversion is completed, we give a mighty new moniker to the aircraft: the 'Eurofreighter.'

Such is the expansive success of the first A300-B4 conversion; we develop quite a taste for these exciting new Eurofreighters. Dart Group PLC buys further Airbus A300-B4 aircraft for conversion, all within this very year.

On the distribution side of things, Fowler Welch and Channel Express join to trade under the Fowler Welch banner. As a result of this perfect match, Fowler Welch sports a lovely new livery, and a logo featuring plums, pears, tomatoes and flowers. After all, those items represent the deliveries we do best!  To celebrate, Fowler Welch also adds a new warehouse at its Spalding headquarters.

We're greatly aided in setting forward with this exciting airliner by Antony Sainthill, our Director for A300 programmes. Antony joined us in 1993 after having fruitful careers running a cargo airline, working for an aircraft remarketing company and being part of the Armed Services. This certainly puts Antony in a commanding position when it comes to arranging the Eurofreighter conversion programme. Marching onwards, Antony became Jet2.com's Director for Aircraft Management in 2007, since when the fleet has become even more fantastic, almost doubling in size.

1997 Each Bus stop delivers 45 tonnes for our customers

Channel Express sends its first Airbus A300-B4 'Eurofreighter' into the skies. It proves a fantastic short-haul performer, carrying out daily 45 tonne deliveries from Sweden to Luxembourg on behalf of Panalpina. The Panalpina Group is one of the world's leading supply chain providers, and it relies on Channel Express to carry its deliveries speedily across snow swept scenes. When winter comes in Sweden, our flights take plenty of planning for safe landings on ice runways. You do enjoy an incredible view from above the Airbus at this time though. Look down and you'll see an entire country covered in a blanket of pristine white, lit up by the amber glare of streetlights.

The Airbus A300-B4 'Eurofreighter' is also the aircraft to call upon for longer distances. Channel Express launches this aircraft for a weekly Stansted to Tel Aviv service for British Airways World Cargo, one of the world's largest cargo airlines. Interestingly, the Group's connection to Tel Aviv continues to this very day, with Jet2.com flights to the destination direct from Manchester. We are the first airline to offer this service.

Channel Express converts its second and third Airbus A300-B4 from passenger to freighter aircraft. This means its Airbus A300-B4 'Eurofreighter' fleet is now capable of a combined payload of 135 tonnes from a single delivery. To give you an idea of how much that is – it's the weight of 30 elephants!

Fowler Welch expands its Spalding warehouse, with its extension giving 200,000 sq. ft. of chilled warehouse space. Here's another helpful comparison to go with the elephants above – 200,000 sq. ft. is the size of 28 football pitches!

You can put your trust in us: the Dart Group PLC purchases two Airbus A300-B2 aircraft to provide spare parts and engines for its main fleet. This addition to improve reliability proves that the whole is even greater than the sum of its parts.

We also split our shares 2 for 1, meaning the number of overall ordinary shares in issue is more than 32 million.

1998 The only way is UPS for our three Airbus A300-B4 'Eurofreighters'

With its reputation for reliability, punctuality and efficiency ever increasing, Channel Express is called upon by the major delivery providers UPS and DHL. UPS is the world's largest package delivery company, whilst DHL has a huge global network for carrying out its international logistics. Both of these international companies count on us as a valued partner. In return, Channel Express soars all three of its Airbus A300-B4 'Eurofreighters' into the night skies for these major providers.

Proving our worth yet again, Channel Express achieves Joint Airworthiness Requirements (JAR) 145 approval. The JAR 145 recognises how committed we are to looking after our aircraft.

It's a year of being recognised for Channel Express, and our aircrew Training School achieves Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) Type Rating Training Organisation (TRTO) approval. The TRTO is only awarded to training schools that have the highest standards in all areas, from equipment to educational resources, funding to project management. Look at our photos and you'll see our colleagues in action, busy loading and checking deliveries and generally doing a great job.

1999 A cool new addition to Dart Group

Dart Group PLC purchases the Coolchain group of companies. Based in Kent, Coolchain is already known for whisking fresh produce across the country. And with the backing of Dart Group PLC, Coolchain can only get even better! The company expands rapidly, providing customers with services such as packaging and warehousing. Such expansion is enough to make you want to party like its 1999!

To 'consolidate' our success, we open a new, purpose-designed, 40,000 sq. ft. consolidation centre in Portsmouth. We put our money where our mouth is, by investing in new facilities and state-of-the-art cooling equipment. This ensures it becomes the Group's main distribution centre for the south. Growers from Hampshire, West Sussex and the Channel Islands all rely on the efficiency and effectiveness of the centre. It also helps us to get together all of the flowers and fresh produce imported from mainland Europe. If you look at the pictures of our huge distribution centres, you get a sense of the scale involved – colourful fruits, vegetables and flowers stretch for acres inside. As you can imagine, the smells are fantastically fragrant too.

Going Dutch...the Dart Group PLC forms Fowler Welch BV as a Netherlands registered company, to manage the Distribution Division's growing international business.

Dart Group PLC forms Channel Express Parts Trading as an operating unit within Channel Express. It supplies aircraft parts and equipment to other airlines and stockists. With this new development, Dart Group PLC creates yet another reason for companies to rely on its support. Channel Express Parts Trading then goes on to acquire two Airbus A300-B4s to provide a multitude of spare parts. We've pictures for this part of our business too! Take a look at the guys in green who are busy packing parts.

This year also heralds the end of an era, as the final 'Super' Dart Herald is retired after many years of loyal service. However, as you'll notice, the aircraft's heritage lives on in the Dart Group title, named after its powerful Rolls-Royce Dart engines.

As a measure of demand for the Group's shares on the Stock Market, a further 1.6 million shares are placed for Dart Group PLC. This brings the total in issue to 34 million.

Another reason why this year calls for a celebration is that it marks the beginning of John Kerrigan's outstanding career with the company. John, the National Operations Director for Fowler-Welch, joined after leaving the 'Big Smoke' of London for the 'bright lights' of what was the Coolchain business in Paddock Wood, Kent. He is now responsible for all of our Fleet, plus Temperature-Controlled, Ambient, European, Container sites and operations.

Fantastically, Fowler-Welch is strengthened even further this year, by the arrival of John Peall, its current Deputy Managing Director. With more than 40 years' experience in warehousing, John joins as a General Manager, before going on the road to success at the distribution company. As Deputy Managing Director, John has used his great experience to grow the company to full store and pick operations, holding in excess of 25,000 pallets and assembling 1.5m cases.

Acquiring Coolchain ensures Dart Group goes a whole lot further – in every aspect. It means some talented individuals join us too, and none more so than Dave Cottam, the current Director of Fowler Welch. That means Dave has now held the fort at Fowler Welch for a fantastic 13 years, during which time the company has grown at a seriously substantial rate with an impressive 12 site locations in the UK and the Netherlands.

The 2000s – Our business really takes off with Jet2.com and Jet2holidays

2000 Coolchain is completely agreeable

Coolchain welcomes the new millennium by reaching a three-year agreement with the Canary Islands' Federation of Produce Growers. That means it will now provide the labelling, consolidation and nationwide distribution services from the Port of Southampton. This is a momentous agreement, considering the sheer volume of unique produce grown with the year-round sunshine on the Canary Islands (almost 80,000 tonnes reach Southampton annually). The Port of Southampton is also recognised as one of the largest cargo ports in the south of England.

Canary Islands would go on to be more than just a favourite place for Coolchain, as it becomes one of our most popular destinations for our Jet2holidays customers. It's a great place for a dose of some much-needed winter sun!

In a busy year for Coolchain, it also buys A. Wood & Son (Detling), a former local competitor. This further sets up Coolchain as a market leader.

Dart Group PLC is now darting upwards in size, and has 1,500 colleagues across its divisions:

  • Channel Express (Air Services) operates Airbus A300-B4 'Eurofreighters'L188 Electras and Fokker F27 cargo aircraft on behalf of express parcel companies, postal authorities, freight forwarders and other airlines.  If you go back a little further on this page, you'll discover lots of interesting snippets about our aircraft and lovingly created photos. The Company also supplies A300 spare parts to operators and stockists worldwide.
  • Benair Freight International organised and managed freight shipments worldwide, operating from four strategically positioned UK centres at London Heathrow, East Midlands, Manchester and Newcastle Airports. It also had a Far East subsidiary in Singapore, as well as associates and agents in other key world trade centres.
  • Fowler Welch, Coolchain and Channel Express (CI) now have 450,000 sq. ft. of distribution facilities. It's a pretty hefty business, as they despatch around 600 temperature-controlled trailer loads each day. The division is also developing its services in continental Europe.

2001 Dart Group's journey with the Boeings begins

Dart Group PLC purchases two Boeing 737-300QC 'Quick Change' aircraft in May 2001. This new aircraft marks the start of something special; as its special feature would go on to inspire the launch of Jet2.com.

First built in 1984, the Boeing 737-300 was a very popular aircraft right from the start, securing more than 250 orders in its first year. It has many fantastic features, including CFM56 turbofan engines for big reductions in noise and energy usage. Even more impressively, its 'Quick Change' (QC) system enables it to change from a 148-passenger to a 16 tonne payload freighter aircraft in 30 minutes. Look closely at our photos of this aircraft and you'll see the outline of the rectangular QC Cargo Door, just to the left of the standard passenger door.

Because of this nifty little feature, the Boeing 737-300 QC is a top performer for both cargo and passenger markets. It gave Philip Meeson, our Group Chief Executive, a smart idea for creating his Jet2.com airline.

Noting its incredible efficiency, the Boeing 737-300QC replaces the Lockheed Electra on the key Royal Mail route between London Stansted and Edinburgh. This results in increased payloads and reduced flight times. Thanks to its impressive 'Quick Change' facility, the aircraft is also kept busy during the day and at weekends, operating a passenger charter service.

While the Boeing is the new boy on the block, the rest of our fleet is not overlooked, and the Fokker F27 aircraft are upgraded to 'Super Friendships'. We fit them with new avionics, including ACAS – the European standard Airborne Collision Avoidance System. The ACAS operates on its own, without air traffic control, and can warn the pilot of nearby aircraft and even reduce the risk of collision. Such an upgrade shows that the Dart Group sets its sights on safety.

As we continue to help other airlines and stockists touch the sky, Channel Express Parts Trading buys two Airbus A300-B2Ks to provide spare parts to the market.

Dart Group PLC keeps on track with its upgrades - it introduces a track-and-trace IT system throughout the distribution division. It also adds a trailer tracking system using a GPS system that drivers everywhere have now come to know and love. This new and improved method helps us manage deliveries and keep a track of route times.

Fowler Welch BV, the Group's international distribution company, manages 10,000 cross-Channel trailer movements annually between the Netherlands and the UK. In more international developments, Benair launched its 'special services' activity at the company's London Heathrow offices. The aim was to provide 'hands-on' management for important shipments.

While our fleet of aircraft is ever improving, we also have a spark of inspiration to improve the passenger experience with the appointment of Phil Ward. After four fantastic years with the company, Phil was promoted to Passenger Sales Director at the start of 2005. This proves to be a smart move, as thanks to Phil's leadership our ever-growing Jet2.com airline gets the recognition it deserves.

2002 A star is born – Jet2.com!

Announcement please...this is the year that Jet2.com, the hugely popular low cost airline, is born!

We're so buoyed by the successful chartered service of our Boeing 737-300QC fleet; we announce that the first Jet2.com flight will take off in February 2003. We put forward our plan to wing happy passengers to exciting city and sun destinations across Europe.

At Jet2.com, we provide customers in the North with a much-needed convenient, low-cost, and friendly way to fly. That's why we call ourselves 'The North's leading leisure airline', and we're known for offering 'Friendly low fares.'

Jet2.com becomes a trading name of Channel Express (Air Services) Ltd. The company now has plenty of bases covered, operating a contract services division, a low cost airline division and a parts division.

To prepare for the launch, Dart Group PLC purchases a further four Boeing 737-300QCs and four ex-Ansett Boeing 737-300QCs. Ansett was a large Australian airline that once had 23 Boeing 737-300 aircraft, yet again proving the fleet's popularity for passenger flights. The Boeing 737-300QC's quieter engine noise and fast flight times are perfect for our passengers. Plus its 'Quick Change' facility means we can get it ready to carry a 16 tonne payload within 30 minutes.

Even though Jet2.com is about to take off, we still concentrate on our cargo, purchasing a fourth Airbus A300-B4. We put it into action right away with a contract for TNT, the European market leader for global logistics. In addition, all of the Airbus A300-B4 achieve Cat III approval, a specific category to ensure safer landing.

Jet2.com opens for business on 11th December 2002. It sells 12,000 seats online within the first 24 hours, proving we've got the whole of Yorkshire on-board with the launch of our airline.

There's good news at Fowler Welch too, as it wins a road haulage contract with a major US airline.

2003 Jet2.com takes flight

Jet2.com operates its first scheduled passenger service from Leeds Bradford to Amsterdam on 12th February 2003. The flight proves a success, and is the start of great things to come. In our gallery to the left, you'll see that the Jet2.com livery is quite a contrast to Channel Express. Bold red, white and silver colours are now the order of the day, with clear branding of our new name.

Dart Group PLC expands its fleet even further, to serve its fledgling passenger market and established cargo market. We purchase a further eight ex-Ansett Boeing 737-300s, bringing the number in its fleet to fourteen.

Another great era ends when the Channel Express (Air Services) last Lockheed Electra flies its final flight on 2nd May 2003. The aircraft was a favourite of ours for its superhero-style name with a 15-tonne payload to match. This hardy machine was an enduring classic, as it was first launched in 1957.

Fowler Welch and Coolchain combine forces to form one single temperature-controlled distribution company. The company now trades under the name Fowler Welch-Coolchain.

Following the success of its first route, Jet2.com expands to operate routes to Alicante, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Malaga, Milan Bergamo, Nice and Palma. In this way, we connect Yorkshire with a whole range of classy continental destinations.

To go along with the company's new name, we also have an important new addition to our team of Directors – David Inglis. As Fowler Welch's Managing Director for almost a decade, David has played a pivotal part in our expansion over the years. Deservedly becoming the company's Executive Chairman in 2010, David certainly spearheaded our success story, taking in two major acquisitions and five site openings in the process!

2004 Jet2.com is one in a million

Jet2.com flies its 500,000th passenger in March 2004, and then welcomes its 1 millionth passenger on-board in September 2004. Such figures show the speed of our success! Already aiming to expand, we're on course to begin flights from both Belfast and Manchester airports.

Seven of the Boeing 737-300 passenger aircraft fleet are now based at Leeds Bradford Airport. Here's a quick travel update – our Jet2.com flights are well on their way to Alicante, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Belfast, Faro, Geneva, Malaga, Murcia, Nice, Palma, Prague and Venice. This tidy collection of destinations gives our passengers all sorts of choices for their next break, whether they're heading out for the beach, on business, or to the ski slopes.

In the meantime, our air deliveries are still going and growing strong, as Channel Express secures a long-term contract to be the leading aircraft provider of the Royal Mail. We operate seven Boeing 737-300QC aircraft for the Royal Mail, with our first class service the perfect match for delivering their first class domestic mail.

We can't forget Fowler Welch for this year either, especially as it marks the start of Stephen King's appointment with the company. Stephen steps in as a fantastic Finance Director for us, managing our treasury at a time of incredible expansion, ensuring our site openings and acquisitions all go smoothly. As an accredited member of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants, Stephen brings his considerable financial knowledge to the forefront for Fowler Welch.

2005 Jet2.com spreads its wings with new aircraft and bases

With 1.3 million passengers flown in the 2004/2005 financial year, Jet2.com aims to spread its wings! We expand by announcing Newcastle as our fourth base. Flights then go on sale for the first new route, Newcastle to Murcia commencing October 2005. In the same year, Jet2.com goes on to announce its fifth base at Blackpool International Airport, followed by its sixth base in Edinburgh. With these expansions, there's a lot to 'base' on our success as the North's leading leisure airline!

Jet2.com also buys its first Boeing 757-200 aircraft, to enter service in autumn 2005. The Boeing 757-200 proved a popular aircraft since its launch in 1982. There's  a lot to love about it, including improved aerodynamics and high-bypass-ratio turbofan engines that reduce operating costs. Plus, the larger size of this twin-engine jet airliner means that our Jet2.com Boeing 757-200 has a capacity of 232 passengers – a 57% increase compared to its Boeing 737-300!

Dart Group PLC says goodbye to Benair – it sells its interest in Benair Freight International Limited and Benair Freight Pte. to Gulf Agency Company (GAC) for the tidy sum of £5.1 million. We made this move so we can concentrate all our efforts on our fantastic distribution and aviation services.

Just as we're aiming for the skies, Dart Group PLC shares are transferred between markets operated by the London Stock Market – from Official List to AIM.

After two years of sterling work by the management team, Fowler Welch-Coolchain gains a great deal of extra business from both existing and new customers. The company has success in store by winning storing, picking and distribution contracts that increase the use of its excellent facilities.

2006 Jet2.com flights prove to be very rewarding

To highlight how the Group is going places, Channel Express (Air Services) Limited changes its name to the catchier Jet2.com Limited. We then follow-up this new name by the announcement that over 5 million passengers have now flown with Jet2.com.

In response to this mightily impressive demand, we buy ourselves six more Boeing 757-200 aircraft, bringing our fleet size to eight for this larger aircraft. The Boeing 757-200 is perfectly adapted to travel long distances, so we can offer more even more dazzling destinations in Europe and beyond. The aircraft's seriously spacious size also offers better efficiency and a greater supply of seats with our famous "Friendly low fares."

Proving that airlines can be a very rewarding business when you're as good as us, the quality of the Jet2.com service gets the recognition it deserves when Jet2.com is voted 'Best European Short Haul Airline' by the Guardian/Observer Travel Awards 2006.

There's also great change for Dart Group's other divisions, as it's the final stop for our Airbus A300-B4 fleet on 31st March 2006, after 8 great years of carrying cargo. The Airbus A300-B4 fleet proved itself a real time and money saver, with its capability to carry a 45 tonne payload in a single delivery. 2006 also marks the end of an era for Channel Express (Channel Islands) Limited, as Dart Group streamlines its channels by selling its interest to Ferryspeed C.I. Limited.

Fowler Welch-Coolchain leads the field by buying local competitor R.F. Fielding Cheshire Ltd to strengthen our national network even further. It also serves to announce its arrival on the ambient market.

In stock market matters, the news this year is that Dart Group PLC splits its shares by 4 for 1, meaning the number of ordinary shares in issue is now more than 134 million.

2007 Jet2.com makes a break with Jet2holidays

This is the year that Dart Group PLC adds a third string to its bow, with the launch of Jet2holidays. A major presence in the Package Holiday market, Jet2holidays offers customers and travel agents "Package holidays you can trust."

We offer very attractive accommodation and transfers. Plus, in a smart move, we offer our low cost Jet2.com flights to wrap up part of this great value package. On the picture gallery you'll see the fabulous red and orange colourways of our Jet2holidays logo, meant to symbolise those amber sunsets you'll only see abroad!

Jet2.com also continues to go from strength to strength, as it wins the 'Best European Short Haul Airline' at the Guardian/Observer Travel Awards for the second year in a row. Building on its success, its super workforce now exceeds 1,500 colleagues and its destinations now total 42. We also announce a winning sponsorship of the Leeds rugby teams, showing that we don't have to 'try' hard to be a success!

It's good news for Fowler Welch-Coolchain too, as the Federation of Canary Islands Growers (FedEx) renews its five year contract with the company. If you go back to the year 2000 on our history, you'll see this fruitful relationship has already been going strong for seven years! With annual imports of almost 80,000 tonnes through the Port of Southampton alone, this contract is a huge success for the Group's distribution division. Fowler Welch-Coolchain also opens a new site at Washington in Tyne and Wear. The move improves the company's transport links in the North East, providing all kinds of services including consolidation, pick-to-order, storage, container services and value added solutions.

Yet more signs of our flying success come with the appointment of our captain, Robin Evans, to the Director of Flight Operations. We're certainly reliant on Robin's expertise, as he helps us to implement some seriously smart onboard software for even safer flights.

Dart Group PLC makes major strides in money matters too, with the crucial appointment of Andrew Merrick, our Group Finance Director. During his time at the company, Andrew has also completed the New York Marathon and climbed Mont Blanc. You can certainly say we're at the peak of success with Andrew's achievements in improving our planning, focus on cash and reporting on performance.

2008 Dart Group PLC more than manages its systems

Highlighting its incredible year-on-year growth, Jet2.com announces it flew more than 4 million passengers in a single year. It's a great way to mark the airline's fifth anniversary, in a year that also sees us introduce the myJet2loyalty scheme. We came up with the clever idea of rewarding frequent fliers with points for every pound spent, which they can use against free flights.

The airline also wins a string of awards, including the Best UK Short Haul Airline at the Guardian and Observer Travel Awards 2008 and is 'Rated Highest' in the 'Which? Satisfaction Survey' ahead of easyJet and Ryanair.

As an airline used to making milestones, Jet2.com becomes the first low cost airline to offer flights to New York. In fact, our customers are so stoked with our service, we need to increase our fleet just to keep up! We complete a long-term lease of a further Boeing 757-200, taking our fleet size to nine for this aircraft. The Boeing 757-200's ability to make long distance journeys puts it in great stead for the New York flights. Then we go ahead and increase this capability even further with the winglet upgrade carried out on one of our aircraft!

On a related note, Fowler Welch-Coolchain makes several sprightly upgrades to its operations, including the complete redesign of its Paddock Wood warehouse facility. The company also adds twenty Montracon Reefers to its Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) operation. These extra trailers put Fowler Welch-Coolchain on the trail to success. It is now a major player in delivering products to retailers, wholesalers and manufacturers throughout the UK.

It is also a year for upgrading and enhancing structures, as the new warehouse management system goes live at Fowler Welch-Coolchain. The system, provided by Manhattan Associates, improve's the company's FMCG warehousing and rolls out across the network over the next 12 months. Manhattan Associates puts its 20 years of experience into putting Fowler Welch-Coolchain on the road to success.

Dart Group PLC wins the 'Enterprise IT Solution of the Year' at the Channel Network Awards, beating the likes of Selfridges and Coca Cola in the process. The award recognised the excellence of our Jet2.com website, making it easy to book online flights in a matter of minutes. Plus, our newly installed 'green' infrastructure delivers round-the-clock resilient computing for employees and customers.

2009 Fowler Welch-Coolchain weaves a wonderful new-look website

The start of 2009 brings exciting news for Fowler Welch-Coolchain. Firstly, we launch a new website that offers improved navigation, with interesting new content and captivating images. It also secures a new contract with AAK, a global food manufacturer, to transport its ingredients across the UK. And this helps us by more than a bit - Fowler Welch-Coolchain renews its own contract with Cybit, a telematics market leader. This gives us some great data for looking after the temperatures inside our vehicles. The company caps off another successful year by buying Bawdsey Haulage Limited, a specialist in delivering containers, based at the well-connected Port of Felixstowe.

Jet2.com also has a busy year, as we lease another Boeing 737-300 aircraft to bring the total fleet size to 32. Setting the way for others to follow again, Jet2.com becomes the first and only low cost airline to offer direct flights from Manchester to Tel Aviv. If you've been brushing up on our history, you'll note that we have a long standing connection to Tel Aviv, as we were making deliveries here from as far back as 1997.

The second half of the year sees Jet2.com expand its operations in Newcastle and announce the launch of a brand spanking new base at East Midlands from May 2010. Jet2.com maintains its commitment to great service throughout, winning 'Best Travel Internet Booking System' at the Northern Ireland Travel and Tourism Awards. It also wins 'Passenger Airline of the Year' at the Baltic Air Charter Assoication Annual Excellence Awards.

Jet2holidays launches its first holiday brochure for Winter 09/10 to Summer 2010 and it's a real thing of beauty - lovingly produced with lots of glossy photos and enticing info about our resorts. The plucky package holiday company also announces two new holiday destinations: Tel Aviv in Israel and Split in Croatia for summer 2009.

In fact, it's a fantastic year for Jet2holidays in more than just one way, as this also marks the start of the crucial commercial leadership by Steve Heapy. Joining from MyTravel as the Managing Director of Jet2holidays and Chief Commercial Officer of Jet2.com, Steve has heaps of experience in the travel industry. His expertise proves to be vital, as Jet2holidays goes on to grow by over 500 per cent, adding a string of shiny awards to its bow in the process! It’s clear that Steve’s sterling work in his dual roles is doubly impressive. In fact, Steve plays such a pivotal role in the company that it’s a natural progression for him to become Chief Executive Officer of both Jet2.com and Jet2holidays by the start of 2013.

We also aim for excellence too with the appointment of our HR Director, Richard Chambers. Richard brings a wealth of experience with him from the travel industry, as well as from key HR Director positions at Instore and Talk Talk. It doesn't take long until we're the talk of the town too, and expanding the HR Team to match the big-time growth of the business. Enhancing the experience of not just our customers but also our colleagues is what Jet2.com is all about!

The 2010s – It's a new era of awards and expansion for Dart Group!

2010 Fowler Welch-Coolchain's new hub packs a mighty punch

On the back of many successful years, Fowler Welch-Coolchain expands its business even further, purchasing a 500,000 sq. ft. 50,000+ pallet capacity ambient distribution centre at Heywood, Greater Manchester. As a major focal point for the company, the centre already gets a great new nickname - 'The Hub'. To give you an idea of its huge size, it's bigger than 70 football pitches!

Things get packing at the centre from June 2010, with new volumes added to the Tesco Express Format Distribution in August 2010. Fowler Welch-Coolchain also adds to its network at Desborough, Northamptonshire, following a big business win from a blue chip UK manufacturer.

And in September 2010, Fowler-Welch-Coolchain is on the road to big things again with a major new appointment to our board of directors. Nick Hay joins us as our Managing Director for an exciting new chapter in our history. Having previously been Managing Director for Samworth Brothers Distribution, Nick bring a wealth of experience with him from the Fast-Moving Commercial Goods industry. In the space of just under two years, Nick has already overseen the opening of two brand spanking new depots for the company.

Meanwhile, Jet2.com welcomes its 20 millionth customer onboard. This massive milestone is marked with the leasing of two more Boeing 737-300 aircraft, whilst we also purchase two further Boeing 757-200 aircraft. This brings the total number of aircraft in the fleet up to 34. Both Boeing machines have already proven themselves as 'sound' performers for the Group - the quieter engine noise of the Boeing 737-300QC is brilliant for peaceful passenger flights. Plus that 'Quick Change' feature is a top call for cargo.

While we're on the subject of cargo, this section of our business is strengthened even further this year with the appointment of Ian Du Cros, our Director for Mail & Cargo. Our fleet of 'Quick Change' aircraft means that whilst we transport happy passengers during the day, at night we're still reaching for the stars with our cargo deliveries. Ian is instrumental in helping us maintain important cargo contracts with many major delivery providers, and ever improving our reputation for reliable, punctual service. It's why he's also been able to secure some top new contracts during his time as a Director too.

This is the year that we also take 'pride' in Jet2.com in a completely new and wonderful way. In January 2010, we help rescue 13 lions from the cramped conditions of a Romanian zoo. After living in squalor and facing certain death, we team up with the Yorkshire wildlife Park, as we safely fly the lions from Romania to their new 10-acre paradise near Doncaster. It's here that they affectionately become known as the 'Pride of Yorkshire'! If you look to your left you'll see exciting images of our rescue operation in action, with lions being lifted onto the plane we donated for this great cause. In fact, our part in the world's biggest ever lion rescue proves such a roaring success that the Yorkshire Wildlife Park name the leader of the lions 'Jettoo'.

And how about this for a follow-up? In October, we return the compliment by re-naming one of our Boeing 737-300s 'Jettoo', accompanied with a vibrant cartoon picture of the famous lion on the nose of the plane! In fact, he proves such a 'mane' attraction with Jet2.com customers that we launch a super-cute cuddly toy of Jettoo in 2011. To keep everyone 'feline' happy, we also make a donation to the Yorkshire Wildlife Park with every toy sold.

Later in the year, Jet2.com launches its eighth base at Glasgow Airport, supported by a Boeing 737-300 and a Boeing 757-200 based at the site. It's another successful awards season too. Check out this list - Jet2.com scoops trophies for 'Airline of the Year' at the ISPY awards 2010, 'Best Website' at the World Low Cost Airline Awards, and bronze for 'Best Trade Booking Website (Flights)' at the British Travel Awards 2010.

Not to be outdone, Jet2holidays has a very rewarding year, with the launch of no less than three bumper brochures in 2010. Customers love the way we presented our first brochure, so we pick things up exactly where we left off. We get much deserved recognition from the travel industry too, winning bronze for 'Best Tour Operator to the Iberian Peninsula & Canary Islands' at the British Travel Awards 2010.

2011 Dart Group PLC is now part of the Next Generation!

2011 picks up right where 2010 left off – yet more great news for Dart Group PLC. Jet2.com enters a cooperative training agreement with The Aviation Academy to train Cabin Crew colleagues. The Aviation Academy is a mighty fine place for facilities, education and business links, making it the perfect partner for Jet2.com. As you'll have seen in our recent history (just a few years up the page), we've already won many awards for its great service, and top training for our Cabin Crew serves to improve the customer experience even more.

As a footnote to a busy year, just after our first flights from Glasgow, we lease our first two Boeing 737-800 aircraft. We also lease two further Boeing 757-200 aircraft, taking the total fleet size to 38. Launched in 1998, the Boeing 737-800 is a modern aircraft that delivers spectacular efficiency savings. As part of the Boeing Next Generation series (even the name sounds like an action-packed comic strip), the 737-800 has increased fuel capacity, quieter engines and a stylish, spacious interior.

Towards the end of the year, Jet2.com can really say it has made it in the North East! The Tyne is all ours as we achieve our ambitious plans of being the North East's biggest leisure carrier. We have carried 2.1 million passengers in the region since its launch at Newcastle Airport six years ago. This position is then further cemented by a major expansion at the airport, creating 100 new jobs.

It's also another big year for awards at Jet2.com, as we achieve runner up in three categories for 'Best Airline' at the TravelMole web awards 2011, 'Best Airline for Groups' at the 2011 Group Travel Awards, and 'Favourite Short Haul Airline' in the Telegraph readers' Travel Awards. We also wins 'Best Low Cost Airline' at the SPAA awards.

Jet2holidays expands its hotel portfolio even further in 2011, releasing two bumper brochures within the year, and launching an entirely new range. Indulgent Escapes offers a bold new approach to luxury holidays, inviting our customers to enjoy the finer side of life with five-star hotels and the outstanding service of Jet2.com low cost flights. Jet2holidays ambitious plans to grow its offering of both destinations and accommodation pays off as it wins 'Best Tour Operator to the Iberian Peninsula & Islands' at the British Travel Awards 2011. It is also crowned 'Best Mainstream Short Haul Operator' at the SPAA awards.

Fowler Welch-Coolchain enjoys a year of expansion, opening new satellite depots at Alconbury in Cambridgeshire and Newton Abbot in Devon. These new developments serve to strengthen Fowler Welch-Coolchain's transport links across the whole of the UK. Alconbury adds to the company's container operations services, whilst Newton Abbot provides consolidation, storage and pick-to-order solutions.

Fowler Welch-Coolchain also expands its operations abroad, by moving its Dutch division, Fowler Welch BV, to the ABC Westland commercial hub. Located in Poeldijk, near The Hague, the centre provides increased capacity for docking, consolidating and new warehouse facilities. It has more than 10,000 sq. m capacity, ensuring the Fowler Welch-Coolchain fleet is even more efficient for operating between the UK and the European Mainland.

We're onto a sure thing for strengthening our reputation for great customer service too, when we appoint Ashley Cowen as the Operations Director for Jet2.com. Ashley arrives at our airline with a wealth of experience in the aviation industry already under his wing. His past pivotal roles include positions at British Airways, CitiExpress, and Heathrow Airport. This expertise 'serves' him well for delivering a superb experience for every one of our millions of passengers.

2012Jet2.com is on top of the world by winning the Globe Travel Awards 2012

Jet2.com has a winning start to the year by being crowned 'Best Short Haul Airline' at the Travel Weekly Globe Travel Awards 2012. The award has extra prestige because travel agents and industry professionals vote for the accolade. Added with the fact that Jet2.com beat stiff competition from the likes of bmi, British Airways, easyJet, Iberia and Lufthansa, it's easy to see why our airline is on top of the world with this Globe Award.

However, rather than resting on its laurels, Jet2.com continues to look to the future and further improve its already fantastic service. The airline signs a contract with Newcastle College to provide first-class training for its Cabin Crew. As one of the largest and most successful colleges in the UK, Newcastle College has the top facilities needed to train our future Cabin Crew to the very highest standards. Coupled with our assistance at the new Travel & Aviation Academy in Craven College, Skipton, we recognise the importance of training Cabin Crew to enhance the customer experience.

Jet2.com's loyalty scheme, myJet2, welcomes its 500,000th member this year. It's a sign of the success for myJet2, which rewards our loyal fliers with points towards free flights.

Similarly, Jet2holidays marks a major milestone in 2012, celebrating five years since its launch. Incredibly, passenger numbers have increased by a whopping 500 per cent over this period.

Fowler Welch has much to celebrate too, as we win 'Primary Carrier of the Year' in the ASDA Carrier of the Year Awards 2012.

We are also really quite taken with our new 'Take Me There' scheme. This company-wide training programme ensures every single one of our Jet2.com and Jet2holidays colleagues has the know-how to create an even better experience for our customers. In the true spirit of collaboration, colleagues from across many different departments join together to talk about how we can all work as one team to set the standard for great service. We like to think this is a neat fit for the friendly and trustworthy approach both companies are known for.

After the training, we put the skills we've learnt into practice by following the four key Take Me There principles to Create Memories, Be Present, Work as One Team and Take Responsibility. Putting our customers at the heart of everything we do, the old adage of 'practice makes perfect' certainly applies to us!

As we reach the middle of the year, we prove there's nothing middling about Jet2.com's group service as we win 'Best Airline for Groups' at the 2012 Group Travel Awards. It's a great achievement all round, especially as the award is voted for by readers of Group Travel Organiser magazine – so those who recognised us certainly know a thing or two about group travel! In fact, we were proud as punch to beat British Airways, Emirates, Virgin Atlantic, Flybe and EasyJet to be crowned worthy winners.

Jet2holidays prove they're the toast of Yorkshire too, by winning 'Best Supporting Tour Operator' at the annual ABTA Yorkshire Ball 2012. Thanks to our focus on offering package holidays you can trust to more than 40 destinations from the conveniently local Leeds Bradford Airport, we're recognised as the best in our region!

And the awards keep on coming...it's a superb September for both Jet2.com and Jet2holidays as we scoop the tip-top tourism award for Lanzarote, known as the Isla de Lanzarote 2012. Voted for by a jury of Lanzarote Tourism experts, we're considered worthy winners as we increase our number of passengers to Lanzarote by a whopping 56% compared to 2011.

If you've been paying attention, you may remember reading that Jet2holidays was a winner at the SPAA awards in 2011. Well this year we go more than one better than that! We win not one, not two, but three fabulous awards! Jet2holidays is awarded 'Best Short Haul Mainstream Tour Operator' and 'Best Agent Friendly Website', while Jet2.com also takes the top spot for 'Best Holiday/Charter Airline'. The Scottish Passenger Agents Association (or SPAA for short) Annual Awards are the most coveted accolades in the Scottish Travel Industry, so we're thrilled to be recognised for our commitment to our ever-growing destinations, flights and jobs at Edinburgh and Glasgow Airports.

We've yet more ways to 'Telegraph' our success this year too! That's because we're in the top three for the 'Favourite Short-Haul Airline' category at the Telegraph Travel Awards 2012. As 17,000 Telegraph readers voted for the awards, it's clear that our famed Friendly service is newsworthy.

2013 Jet2.com celebrates ten years of taking to the skies!

The year begins with big news from our excellent executives, as Steve Heapy is promoted to Chief Executive Officer of both Jet2.com and Jet2holidays and Philip Meeson becomes the Group’s Executive Chairman. Since he joined in 2009, Steve has helped customer numbers rise rapidly for Jet2.com and Jet2holidays, so we can certainly count on him to take our company even higher!

As early as January, Jet2.com already proves twice as amazing by winning 'Best Short Haul Airline' at the Globe Travel Awards 2013 for the second year running! Hosted by the UK's number one travel magazine, Travel Weekly, the Globe Travel Awards really are the cream of the crop in the travel industry. That's because they're voted for solely by those in the know – travel agents!

This year we beat the likes of Air France/KLM, British Airways, easyJet and Lufthansa. When you think about it, this makes our award all the more impressive, as our votes only came from travel agents around our eight bases in the North of the UK. Yet we still outvoted airlines that operate across the entire country. That shows an overwhelming groundswell of support in our regions!

The award is a nice early surprise before Jet2.com's 10th birthday on 12th February 2013. That was the momentous date ten years ago when we first took off from Leeds Bradford to Amsterdam. It's been many happy returns for Jet2.com customers since then, as time has flown while we’ve grown to fly to more than 50 sun, city and ski destinations.

It was a delightful day, with that very same flight from Leeds Bradford to Amsterdam garlanded with bright balloons and ribbons. Amazingly, two customers from that first flight in 2003 joined us for our 10th birthday trip, as well as two of our original crew members, who are still with us today! It’s yet more proof that we’re enduringly popular with both our colleagues and customers.

Such a dazzling decade calls for a celebration – which is why we decide to host our Party Plane Competition! The incredible prize up for grabs for the lucky winner was a once-in-a-lifetime trip with 99 friends aboard a private Jet2.com plane to the destination of their choice! We certainly got everyone’s eyes on the prize, as when we shortlisted our ten finalists we caused a voting frenzy to rival the likes of the X Factor, with more than seven million votes notched up in just one week! Our worthy winner, Paul Carroll from Blackpool, received more than two million votes to claim victory.

Paul set off from Blackpool to lovely Lanzarote with 99 of his friends and family in April this year. His Music Hall Tavern theme was a blingin’ extravaganza, with onboard bingo and a vibrant drag show completing the action-packed trip. Just check out the colourful pictures to the left to get a full flavour of the Party Plane celebrations!

Our winning ways continue this year when Jet2.com is crowned ‘Best International Operator to Portugal’ at the prestigious Portugal Trade Awards 2013. The Portuguese Secretary of State for Tourism and the President of the Portuguese Tourist Board were there to see our plucky airline beat stiff competition from TUI Travel and Thomas Cook to scoop the award.

Jet2.com and Jet2holidays also expand to offer four fabulous destinations in the Canary Islands, as we go ‘fourth’ with a fantastic NEW destination - Fuerteventura! Offering year-round sunshine, silky white beaches and topaz-toned waters, it’s a top choice for both our flights with Friendly low fares and our ATOL-Protected package holidays.

Fuerteventura makes it a fab four destinations in the Canary Islands for Jet2.com and Jet2holidays. We’re delighted to go ‘fourth’ to this fantastic NEW destination that offers year-round sunshine, silky white beaches and topaz-toned waters. It’s a top choice for both our Friendly flights and ATOL-Protected package holidays.

We aim to make our customers very ‘appy this year with the launch of our new Jet2.com iPhone app! Offering the ability to book flights, manage bookings and even find out live info on our flights, it ensures that it only takes a few taps to take off with Jet2.com. Yet another way we’re on the move to prove that our Friendly low fares are always a great fit for our customers’ pockets!

We're always thrilled to be recognised for our achievements, so we're pleased as punch when Jet2.com & Jet2holidays scoop the 'International Award' at the Benidorm World Tourism Day 2013. Voted for by a panel including the Mayor of Benidorm, the Councillor for Tourism and Visit Benidorm, the event has an illustrious heritage spanning 30 years. With the launch of our ninth Jet2.com base in Alicante Airport this year, and our ever more popular package holidays to the Costa Blanca, we certainly proved we're brilliant in Benidorm!

And the awards keep on coming... less than a month after our International Award, we scoop another two top accolades for Jet2.com & Jet2holidays at the Northern Ireland Travel & Tourism Awards 2013. First up, Jet2.com wins ‘Best Travel Internet Booking System’, which is a well-deserved prize for the way we keep our website just as welcoming as our famous friendly service onboard. It’s a big night for Jet2holidays too, stepping up to the podium to be presented with ‘Best Package Tour Operator’, a prestigious award that had been won by Thomas Cook and Falcon Holidays previously. Organised by Northern Ireland Travel News, the Northern Ireland Travel & Tourism Awards have been the toast of the country’s travel industry for more than 20 years.

2014 Jet2.com makes three the magic number with another Globe award!

Right from the start of the year, Jet2.com makes a swift return to its winning ways by scooping the ‘Best Short Haul Airline’ for the third year in a row at the Globe Travel Awards 2014. It was a case of being better than third time lucky, as these impressive awards are voted for by top travel industry professionals.

Plus, we beat a roster of nominees that included British Airways, easyJet and Lufthansa to claim this prized accolade yet again. Clearly, our ability to win the award three years on the trot proves our continued commitment to providing our famous friendly service. Our focus on always giving our customers a VIP experience means that, just like our awards, they come back to us time and time again.