Trans European Airways

Trans European Airways ( outdoor gig trading as TEA) was a Belgian charter airline from 1990 onwards led by scheduled flights. Moreover, the company leased its machines to other airlines. Internationally known the Trans European Airways was through their participation in Operation Moses. The company has ceased flight operations in 1991.


The Trans European Airways (TEA ) was founded in October 1970 in Brussels by Georges Gutelman to offer affordable air travel for students and tour groups, which marketed Gutelman about his travel agency TIFA. The start of flight operations in early June 1971 with a Boeing 720 from the collections of Eastern Airlines. The aircraft was used on behalf of the Belgian tour operator Sunsnacks and other tourism companies on charter flights to the Mediterranean. In August 1972, TEA acquired a second aircraft of this type of Aer Lingus, which was temporarily leased to other airlines in the winter of 1972, among other things, to the Air Cambodge. Although the demand for holiday packages due to the first oil crisis broke over Europe, TEA could expand rapidly. The Company has received in the spring of 1974 three Boeing 707 and introduced in November 1974 as the world's first charter airline a widebody aircraft of the type Airbus A300 into service. The leased Airbus was leased to Air Algérie in the same month and until January 1975 starts on a pilgrimage flights between Algiers and Mecca. In subsequent years, TEA conducted regular pilgrim flights by, among others, the African societies Egypt Air, Nigeria Airways and Tunisair. Moreover, the company leased temporarily aircraft to European and American airlines. By rentals TEA could operate profitably their machines even during the low demand winter months.

The company planned in the summer of 1975 charter flights from Amsterdam Schiphol Airport with a second Airbus A300 take, but received by the Dutch authorities is not licensed. The Airbus was then leased for a short time at the Transavia Holland and 1977 long-term to the Egypt Air. Boeing 737 supplemented as of June 1976, the fleet and caused the Boeing 720 (up to 1978) and the three oldest Boeing 707 (until 1984 ) from. In 1979, Trans European Airways applied for traffic rights for outbound long-haul flights from Brussels, which was rejected by the Belgian Ministry of Transport. In 1982 was established at Brussels Airport in the company's shipbuilding enterprises TEAMCO, in addition to civilian airliners also waited Belgian and Danish fighter jets of the type F- 16 and helicopters stationed in Europe U.S. Armed Forces from the mid- 1980s.

Mid -1980s was the limited tourist market in Belgium to no further growth. The Trans European Airways decided to extend its activities to other European countries. Because of the then aviation law, this could only be done by the establishment of foreign subsidiaries. Starting in 1987, emerged subsidiary of Trans European Airways in France, Great Britain, Italy, Switzerland and Turkey. At the same time orders over 10 machines of the type Airbus A310 and 22 Boeing 737 were made, which should be delivered from 1990 to the TEA and its subsidiaries. In addition to the charter flights, the Trans European Airways took off the June 10, 1990 scheduled flights between London Gatwick - Brussels and the airport on. In September 1990, another line routes to Athens, Barcelona, Nice and Las Palmas have been established. The acquisition of the new aircraft and the costly construction of the first only loss-making subsidiaries loaded to an increasing extent, the liquidity of the company. As a result of the Second Gulf War, the tourism market collapsed in Europe, so that the economic situation continued to deteriorate. The company asked in July 1991 to state support to avoid insolvency. The Belgian government refused to grant. On 9 September 1991, the company filed for bankruptcy protection. A reduced service could be continued until November 3, 1991. A day later, the Brussels Commercial Court of the Trans European Airways declared insolvent.


As of 1987, the Trans European Airways founded five charter airlines outside Belgium. These operating under the identical brand name and - with the exception of TEA Basel - in uniform corporate colors. The subsidiaries were in order of foundation:

  • TUR European Airways (Turkey)

The Turkish TUR European Airways was founded in early 1987. The TEA took a 49% stake in the company, with the remaining shares held the Turkish company Kavala Group. The TUR European Airways began in May 1988, a Boeing 737 of the Belgian parent company at a cost flights between Antalya and Central Europe. In November 1988, the Trans European Airways transferred their shares came completely from the Kavala Group. The Turkish company introduced after the flight operations until the year 1994 on.

  • TEA France ( France)

TEA France was founded in September 1987, but was only in the year 1989, an approval from the French Ministry of Transport. The Trans European Airways held 49% of the shares, the remaining 51 % were supported by two French banks. Originally, the company should record tourist charter flights from Lille airport and next to promote Italian and Irish pilgrims to Lourdes. The latter has not been realized. The recording operation from Lille airport took place on 6 October 1989 with two Boeing 737 From 1990, the company also appointed an Airbus A310. The TEA France announced on 20 January 1992 on insolvency. Under the supervision of the insolvency administration of flight operations continued until the end of April 1992.

  • TEA Basel ( Switzerland )

The subsidiary TEA Basel was founded on 18 March 1988. The Trans European Airways owned a third of the company's shares, the remaining shares were held by Swiss investors. The start of flight operations on March 23, 1989 by Zurich and Lisbon. Although the company was the addition of Basel, the company's two Boeing 737 sat predominantly from Zurich. Following the bankruptcy of the Belgian parent company took over the Swiss Air Finance AG its holdings so that TEA Basel was able to continue flight operations. The company 's name was changed on 1 April 1994 TEA Switzerland and merged on 1 April 1999 with the airline Easy Jet.

  • TEA UK (United Kingdom)

In January 1989, the Trans European Airways acquired the insolvent airline British Mediterranean Express, which was subsequently renamed the TEA UK. The start of flight operations took place on 21 March 1989 with a Boeing 737 from Birmingham Airport. A month later, two more aircraft of this type were put into service. Based in Birmingham, the company led by charter flights from East Midlands Airport and Newcastle. The British subsidiary ceased flight operations on 27 September 1991, announced on 16 October 1991 on insolvency.

  • TEA Italia (Italy )

TEA Italia on which the Trans European Airways was involved in 33.3 %, was founded in February 1990 in Treviso. The start of flight operations took place on 22 December 1990 with a Boeing 737-300. As of April 1991, the company operated three aircraft of this type. Following the bankruptcy of the Belgian parent company, the Italian shareholders took over the shares. TEA Italia ceased flight operations in 1995.

Implementation of Operation Moses

In the early 1980s, thousands of people fled as a result of the famine in Ethiopia in the neighboring country of Sudan, including at least 8,000 Jewish Falashas. In Sudan, they were housed in camps. Beginning of 1984, Israel decided to take the Ethiopian Jews and led to negotiations with the Sudanese government. This agreed with the project.

Due to the political situation in the transport of refugees from Sudan could only be done under secrecy and using a neutral airline. We have established contacts with Gutelman Georges, the owner of the Trans European Airways, who had previously worked with the Israeli government. Another favorable factor was that the TEA had repeatedly performed pilgrimage flights on behalf of African airlines, so that the presence of the machines in Sudan would arouse suspicion. Because the flights were not made ​​directly to Israel, to Gutelman decided to airlift refugees from Khartoum via Brussels to Israel. For this he needed the consent of the Belgian government. Gutelman could win his friend and former Belgian Justice Minister Jean Gol as a supporter, so that the refugee flights could begin with the approval of the Belgian Prime Minister Wilfried Martens on November 21, 1984. The Trans European Airways Boeing 707-300 continued this a, which it had acquired in May 1984 in Israel. On 5 January 1985, the Operation Moses became public. Under pressure from the Arab states, the Sudanese government of TEA on the same day withdrew landing rights. Up to this date, the Company had transported about 7,000 refugees to Israel.

Used aircraft

  • Airbus A300B1 and A300B4 (duration of use: A300B1 1974-1990, A300B4 1975-1977 )
  • Airbus A310 -300 (duration of use: 1990 to 1991 with TEA France )
  • Boeing 707-100 and 707 -300C (duration of use: Boeing 707-100 from 1974 to 1984, Boeing 707- 300C from 1984 to 1988 )
  • Boeing 720 (duration of use: 1971-1978 )
  • Boeing 737-200 and 737-300 (duration of use: Boeing 737-200 from 1976 to 1991, Boeing 737-300 from 1988 to 1991 )