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Hall of Fame 2007 - W R Christopher Foyle

W.R. Christopher Foyle

The International Air Cargo Association (TIACA) is privileged to announce W. R. CHRISTOPHER FOYLE as the recipient of its Hall of Fame 2007 Award. Commenting on the award, Dora Kay, Chair of TIACA’s Chairman Council, said “Chris was unanimously nominated and selected by Council members for his many years of innovative and professional leadership in the air cargo industry. We are extremely pleased to induct Chris into the TIACA Hall of Fame.”

Although he was trained and worked in his family’s world renowned book store Foyles, his aviation career started when he began flying gliders at Dunstable while at Radley College and with the Royal Air Force (RAF) section of the Combined Cadet Force (CCF). The CCF promotes responsibility, self reliance, resourcefulness, endurance and perseverance, all of which Chris Foyle is well noted for.

Air Foyle was founded modestly in 1978 with one second hand Piper Aztec that served cargo, passenger and aerial survey charters for the British Isles. One of the company’s principal activities in 1979 was to operate the first regular overnight all cargo service for a courier company/ integrator (Skypak) between the UK and Europe. This later developed into Air Foyle becoming TNT's principal aircraft operator during the period 1987 - 2000 operating 10 (65% of TNT's fleet) B.Ae-146 freighters on a nightly scheduled route network around Europe.

In 1982 the company became the UK agent for a German airline operating the Lockheed Hercules aircraft which provided Chris Foyle with experience with handling outsized cargo and in the same year placed the first order for the revolutionary new observation aircraft the Edgley Optica which was delivered to Air Foyle in 1985.

After years of negotiation, in 1989 Chris Foyle initiated a partnership with Antonov Design Bureau of the then Soviet Union, and became the exclusive sales agent in the western world for the charter and lease of Antonov 124 giant freighters operated by the Antonov Design Bureau of Kiev. The fleet quickly grew to seven AN124 aircraft as well as two AN-22 (the world’s largest turboprop aircraft) and the only AN-225 six-engined monster, the biggest aircraft in the world, carrying unusually heavy and outsized cargo worldwide. Leased to Air Foyle under a UK Department of Transport permit, the AN-124 aircraft could be operated with British traffic rights worldwide. Air Foyle has carried an extraordinary variety of outsized cargo including a railway locomotive, fire fighting equipment to aid in putting out the fires in the Kuwait oil fields at the end of the Gulf War, yachts in the Americas Cup race, oil drilling equipment, bulldozers, Richard Branson’s Round the World Hot Air Balloon, whole aircraft, generators, transformers, etc, as well as many large series of flights for the Defence Ministries and Agencies of nearly all the Western governments for the first Gulf War in 1990/91 and more recently to Afghanistan and the Gulf. In addition Air Foyle and Air Foyle Heavylift provided AN-124 lift for nearly all the major United Nations missions over the last sixteen years. In October 2001, Air Foyle entered into a joint venture with its former UK competitor, HeavyLift Cargo Airlines to form a new company, Air Foyle HeavyLift which managed the operations of Antonov’s aircraft in the West.

After four years’ experience with the Antonov 124, in 1993, Air Foyle branched out into the passenger business through Air Foyle Passenger Airlines which for seven years managed and operated aircraft for tour operators and airlines Sunseeker and easyJet, Colorair, Debonair, Air Scandic, Airworld and Virgin Express. Aircraft operated included Boeing 727 and 737 and Airbus A300 and A320.

In late 1993, Air Foyle obtained the prestigious contract from Oil Spill Response to provide Ilyushin IL-76 and Lockheed Hercules aircraft on permanent 24 hour standby ready to respond to an oil spill emergency anywhere in the world.

As an advocate for fair bilateral negotiations, in 1998 Air Foyle joined with three other principal British cargo airlines to form the British Cargo Airline Alliance chaired by Chris Foyle. The group lobbied the United Kingdom government to ensure that any imbalances in favor of the US cargo carriers were addressed during US/UK bilateral negotiations which he participated in.

In 1999 Air Foyle acquired control of CityJet, the Irish scheduled passenger airline, as it was about to go into receivership. Having commenced its turnaround, Air Foyle subsequently sold his controlling shareholding to Air France.

Chris Foyle was Chairman of TIACA in 1997 – 1998 and continues as a Trustee to provide his support and expertise to the air cargo industry. In addition, he published the English version of “The History of Air Cargo and Air Mail from the 18th Century” by Camille Allaz in association with TIACA. He has been a frequent speaker at conferences in the US, Europe and the CIS on air cargo, air finance, CIS aviation and virtual passenger airlines.

He is a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society, a Liveryman of the Guild of Air Pilots, a Freeman of the City of London and he was just recently appointed Chairman of The Air League and a Trustee of the Foyle Foundation.

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