History, as short as possible

Over 10 years of virtual aviation

10 years is a long time, when we started, FS9 (Microsoft Flight Simulator 2004 - a Century of flight) was the main platform, pilots flew on 2D panels and 1080 resolution was still to come. To put it to a perspective, then iPhone was introduced only a year earlier, than the idea to start an independent Estonian virtual airline - Your Airways, was born. Many things have changed over the time, so have we.

As with every project, real or virtual, there are ups and downs. We have seen bad times and great success as well. Running a fictional airline in a small country, like Estonia, with only 1+ million residents is not so easy. Real life Estonian airlines have a challenge to find enough local passengers, we have had a similar challenge of finding local online flying pilots. Beside the challenge, we have managed to attract more and more of the niche hobby, flight simulation, users from the country and introduced them to the world of online flying. This smallness of us is actually beneficial and unique. Most of the other virtual airlines in the world cannot say, that majority of their members has met in real life and had a beer of two with each other over the years.

Virtual aviation, as real aviation, is a dynamic environment. As in real world, many external factors may change the face and focus of the airline, they can even cease the operations. We are not driven by fuel prices or the economic situation of the world, but we are heavily dependent on the networks we operate and even more – the add-ons for the simulator. If there is a new state of the art aircraft add-on or scenery, we must react, so that our pilots could enjoy up-to-date graphics and features.  Here is our story, as short as possible, divided into periods.


 

Before ANNO

before 2008 | JP Air

Roots of Your Airways go back to the late summer of 2008 (and even before that) when two of the founding members, Heigo and Johannes discovered the wonderful, then ahead of its time add-on, called MADDOG 2006. We flew for several different airlines, like Dubrovnik and Blue1 - both closed for today, as there was no MD80 operator from Estonia.

It did not take long, until we found a start-up airline, called "JP Air", from TLL. We had a way to fly from Estonia with MD80. The real JP Air was supposed to start operations with MD80, but the plan never materialized. We did not know it yet. The aircraft were painted according to sketches from their web-page and the operations started, this time from Tartu. Tartu was selected as there was no usable scenery for Tallinn (capital of Estonia), and the founding members were from Tartu. Tallinn airport was also going through a major reconstruction at that time. We synchronized the schedule and post-flight data in excel and it started to become too complex. We needed a solid VA platform. We also needed to break off from any real airline, so that the developments of the real world (like closures, changes in fleet and destinations, etc.)  would not affect or restrict our decisions.


 

And then it all started

2008-2009  | JH Air

Evaluations of different virtual airline software solutions led us to phpVMS. As we started to go online, a new branding and name was needed to be separated from real world JP Air, so the "JH Air" (ICAO: JHI, IATA: JH, callsign: Dorpat) was born. As we can see, only one letter of the initial name was changed, some are joking that JH resembles the initials of founding members. We went online on 24th of December 2008, we still consider that "easy to remember" date as our official birthday. Original paint was really close to the JP Air, but with green variations. Greenish/blueish colors have been with us since. Call “Dorpat” comes from the historical name of Tartu. From the beginning, a fundamental principle was established - each and every aircraft should depart from the airport it landed. Aircraft and crew can not be involved in accident.

So now you know why JH, JHI and "Dorpat".


 

New bases and JH Group

2009-2012   | flyJH - "We take you and your luggage to the same destination on time ... every time"

Over the next years, our number flights increased, Tartu was becoming too small for us and there was still no scenery for Tallinn, so we opened new bases out of Estonia. We have been operating from Dortmund, Hamburg and London/Gatwick. We opened some new subsidiaries for cargo and worldwide operations and introduced some new types, like MD-11, Boeing 747-400. All this needed some management and therefore, a holding company, JH Group, was established.  Visual identity was changed from "JH Air" to "flyJH". We have also used City Express livery on the MD80 fleet. Some of the MD-s were refurbished to VIP and business configurations. Before the retirement in 2012, our MD80s had operated around 730 flights and 1700 flight hrs. We had couple of pilots and operated slightly above 200 legs per year.


 

Period of growth

2012-2015  | flyJH - Your Airways

In 2012, computer hardware had developed and FSX was becoming usable on most of the PCs of the time. It was a time for an upgrade. After the release of the PMDG NGX, the Boeing 737-900 was introduced to the fleet. In 2013, PMDG Boeing 777-200LR was also added.  With the introduction of new fleet, additional change to the branding was made. Now the name was changed from "flyJH" to "flyJH - Your Airways". Y was painted as swallow (national bird of Estonia), so the logo could be read in two ways - Your Airways and (Y)our Airways. New Estonian virtual pilots joined and the number of flights peaked at 845 per year in 2013.

After years of success, previous managers of the airline took a well deserved "vacation”. The number of operations started to decrease, but it was still around 550 flights/year in 2014. During this period, our 777s operated around 300 flights and 1300 hrs and 737s operated around 1500 flights and 2900 hrs. This was achieved by less than 10 active pilots.


 

Good decisions and bad decisions

2015-2017 | flyJH - Your Airways & virtual Estonian Air

Situation was changing. Founders and managers of the airline did not participate in daily operational control anymore. We were somewhat tired. The JH Group needed more flights and new direction. There was high demand for something called virtual Estonian Air - OV. JH Group had the interface and systems to do that. So we listened to our potential pilots and started virtual OV. We uploaded all real life OV schedules, even most of the historic ones. We prepared everything and the project went online. But several things went wrong. First of all, although, there was “a high demand” for virtual OV, the actual interest faded away relatively quickly. Secondly, the “promised” Aerosoft CRJ release was postponed, postponed and postponed again, so we were missing the main type of the airline. Thirdly ... real OV ceased operations in 2015. All of the sudden, there was no real airline but we were still there.

OV and JH operations by JH Group continued in declining trend in 2017. Owners of the airlines even discussed the closure of JH Group | flyjh - Your Airways. We learned that all of the decisions have to be calculated and you should never make fundamental changes to the principles that have proven to be successful. We lost the face and by in mid 2017, all flights had stopped.


 

Wind of change

2017-...  | Your Airways - "You call it the world ... we call it the home"

After some discussions between owners and members, it was clear that the stars have aligned once again. Like almost 10 years ago - we had a top of the line add-on – fslabs Airbus A32X and there was a group interested in flying with that, from Estonia, in our colors. Many former members asked to continue with the project and that’s so we did. At this time, flyjh was dropped from the name and the airline was re-branded to “(Y)our Airways”. The entire website and intranet system was rebuilt from scratch, moved to a new domain and servers. New livery was designed, schedules added and the off we went again. After the launch of the new re branded Your Airways, we saw a whopping 86 flights in first month and 139 after that. Your Airways was back and we celebrated our 10th birthday. When we started, the airline operated 200 flights per year, now we are seeing peak activity of 200 flights per month, that translates into to roughly 35% of VATSIM TLL traffic. On some months, we area operating close to the numbers of Finnair from Helsinki and even beating Air Baltic from Riga.

We are proud what we have achieved. The founders of JH Air never imagined, that the small "two-man" airline project would grow to operate 1/3 of the VATSIM flights out of Tallinn, that we can do over 1000 movements per year and that the our call sign - "Dorpat" will be well known in our area of operations.

 

Big thanks to everyone, who has contributed to Your- Our Airways over the years!