Closure of The Blades Aerobatic Display Team (Jan 2023)
With heavy hearts, 2Excel Aviation is announcing that 2022 was the final full season for The Blades Aerobatic Display Team.
The decision has not been taken lightly. The Blades have been important and iconic for the business since 2Excel was founded. They debuted in 2006 and have been the one constant during the Company's expansion from just four aeroplanes and five people to the 30 aircraft and almost 500 employees the Group comprises today.
While it will never feel like the right time to draw a line under this world-class team - the epitome of aerial excellence - the challenges to global economies, the worsening cost-of-living crisis and the protracted hit to disposable incomes this is causing have exacerbated the challenges facing The Blades.
This comes amid the continued degradation of the air show circuit, with more and more events being lost, meaning fewer opportunities to display and showcase our sponsors to the public.
Together, these factors prompted 2Excel's Board to consider the future of The Blades. Regrettably, we concluded it is an unsustainable business model and, in the best interests of all our employee-owners, we needed to take action and redeploy our resources elsewhere within our fast-growing Company. We are seeking to honour all existing bookings.
The Blades themselves are valued employees; ex-military fast jet pilots and support staff with desirable skillsets we hope to retain and redeploy elsewhere within the business as we seek to meet increasing demand for 2Excel's innovative aerospace services. These consultations are ongoing.
Andy Offer, 2Excel's co-founder and Director, said: 'The Blades will live on in spirit - our legacy to the air show world - and in the collective memory of our highly valued sponsors, our supporters and the legions of people who've both watched the Team from the ground and those who have taken flight on our Unforgettable Experience days to enjoy close formation aerobatics or become part of the Blades Flight Club.
'It's been our greatest pleasure to entertain everyone and to provide once-in-a-lifetime experiences. As one of the original Blades' pilots, I had the privilege to lead the Team for several years. The concept emerged from the many requests I had during my time in the Red Arrows to take members of the public flying. That was impossible due to the restrictions on flying civilians in military jets. But it made us realise there was potential to provide the experience of a lifetime by taking paying passengers aloft for close formation aerobatics.
'During the 17 flying seasons the Blades delivered, millions of people saw the team display and thousands have ridden onboard our aircraft. We owe a great debt of gratitude to every one of them. But, most importantly, we must pay tribute to the pilots who have flown with the team and to the ground staff who supported them over the years - especially to those who delivered the final season in 2022 with The Blades' traditional professionalism and flair. They will be missed.'
• The Blades Display Team News.