At noon today, Monday 21st November, 2011, British charter airline, Astraeus, famous for having ex-Iron Maiden front-man, Bruce Dickinson, as Marketing Director and a Captain on their 757 fleet, grounded their fleet and called in the receivers.
I shot the picture to the right at 6:30am on Sunday 28th August 2011, I was stepping off the the bottom stair from a First Choice 767-300ER that had just crossed the Atlantic from the Dominican Republic. An 8 & 1/2 hour journey that felt more like a rollercoaster than a gentle cruise in the flight levels.
It was also the end of my honeymoon in the Caribbean.
What softened the blow of the end of three weeks of surreality (first the wedding, then a crazy, drunken honeymoon) was seeing Boeing 757-200 G-OJIB sitting at a remote stand at Newcastle International Airport. This aircraft was “Ed Force One” for Iron Maiden’s 2008 around-the-world tour, filmed for the DVD, Flight 666.
Sadly, now, the Crawley, Sussex-based airline has ended operations. Bruce Dickinson commanded the last flight, from Jeddah in Saudi Arabia to Manchester, England, today.
Chief Executive, Hugh Parry, blamed “lower than expected business” and “extremely bad luck” pertaining to some technical issues the fleet had recently sustained for the closure.
Astraeus owns two Boeing 737-300s, one 737-500, two 737-700s and four 757-200s, a respectable fleet size of 9.
Aircraft G-OJIB was also Iron Maiden’s tour jet in 2009, with sister 757 G-STRX taking over for the Final Frontier tour in 2011.
You can view pictures of Astreus’s aircraft on Airliners.net.