Picture of the month 66 (June 2023)

Gandalf Airlines was an Italian full-service airline founded in 1998. The home base was Orio al Serio airport near Bergamo, as at that time it was expected that Milan-Linate would be closed. The first flight of the airline was in April 1999, from Bergamo to Munich and Stuttgart. Gandalf started with three leased Dornier-328 props and soon more Dorniers entered the fleet. Actually, Gandalf was the first airline to operate both the prop and jet versions of this regional airliner. In total, ten units have been in use and three more were intended, but did never enter service. The network included many smaller airports all around Italy and for a short time, Gandalf was the only operator to Pantelleria, a small Italian island off the Tunisian coast. International destinations were served, too, like Barcelona, Paris, Munich, Berlin, Brussels and Amsterdam. To Paris Gandalf flew as a code-share feeder for Air France. Gandalf rapidly expanded, but like many others the airline was hit by the 2001 aviation recession. Also the fact that Linate was not closed was a serious disadvantage. The company ran into serious financial difficulties, suspended operations and was declared bankrupt in February 2004.

Gandalf had plans to operate Fokker 50, on lease from Newair Air Service in Denmark. In June 2002 two F50s were spotted with Gandalf titles and logos. Shown below is OY-EBD (20119) in a modified Gandalf livery (Stephan Barth on AirHistory.net; Billund, June 2002); this F50 was never operational with Gandalf. The latter also holds for sister OY-EBB (20118), of which we unfortunately have not found any pictures.