World’s only ‘aerobatic airline’ The Blades to close

After more than 15 years in operation, the world-famous Blades Aerobatic Display Team is to close.

In a statement released today, 2Excel Aviation announced that 2022 was the final full season for the team.

Debuting in 2006, the company says The Blades have been an iconic and important part of the organisation since its founding, growing from just four aircraft and five people to a fleet of 30 and almost 500 employees.

The Sywell-based aviation services provider cited the ongoing challenges to global economies, the worsening cost-of-living crisis, and the prolonged hit to disposable incomes as factors in its decision to discontinue the team.

Additionally, the continued decline of the air show circuit and fewer opportunities to showcase its sponsors to the public also played a role in the decision.

The Blades few Extra EA300 aircraft.
The Blades few Extra EA300 aircraft. The Blades

2Excel's board of directors ultimately determined that The Blades were an “unsustainable business model” and that it was in the best interest of all “employee-owners to redirect resources elsewhere within the company”. The firm is seeking to honour all existing bookings.

2Excel hopes to retain and redeploy the pilots and support staff of The Blades within its business to meet increasing demand for its aerospace services. Consultations are ongoing.

Andy Offer, co-founder and director of 2Excel, 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."

He went on to express gratitude to the pilots and ground staff who have supported The Blades over the years, particularly those who delivered the final season in 2022.

The Blades were often marketed as being the world’s only ‘aerobatic airline’.