John Grant Manager Ground Handling Contracts
John Remembered

From Frank Skilbeck
Sad news indeed, if you look back at the traffic and ground handling world of the Sixties, John was one of the pioneers who set standards that are still in use today (isn’t that so Trev, George, Phil, Peter et al?). For example, I regarded John as the “principal architect” of the original IATA ground handling agreement (GHA) whose principles haven’t changed much in fifty years. We all learnt much from John Grant - particularly when we tried to introduce modifications to the basic GHA!

From Andy Geary Stevens
Sad news indeed - I always enjoyed my contacts with John and I am sure he will be missed by everyone

From Trevor Warburton
John - one of my heros. He interviewed me for a Traffic Officer position in 1961. A frightening experience for a raw 18 year old. I looked up to him and wanted to emulate him. He helped me in my carrer and , later we became good friends. He was a great manager, and BUA and BCAL owe him a lot.

He was treated badly later I remember that pillock Jackson [later sacked] announcing the merger of Engineering, Passenger Services and Ground Ops.[ What??!!] There on a board were two lists . Those who had a job, and those who did not. For some it was the first they knew of their fate. I was lucky and had been given the top Ground Ops job. Jackson asked for questions.

Sitting next to John, I heard him say something like, '' John Grant, my name does not appear on either list''. What a way to treat a man of such seniority and popularity.and probably the first step towards his decline. I will never forget John. A truly good bloke and firm but fair leader. I am in Russia on a project with an LCC and don't get to UK until 19 Dec. So I regret, I will miss the funeral.

From Peter Barrie
Like most of us in the 60's and learniong what it was like to be a traffic officer under John's management.Always the perfect gentleman that occasionally erupted into melodramatic antics when upset. He was the guiding light for many of us and highly respected by all that dealt with him. A true pioneer.

From Alastair Pugh
I was very touched by the tributes that have been paid to John Grant in a flurry of e-mails from those who were involved in BCAL ground operations and others. They are well deserved.

From Terry Storer
John was a highly respected guy, if you didn’t actually know him you certainly knew of him. I remember one particular occasion when he had asked for a SHARES terminal to be provided in a location that I cant recall right now. The request was pretty short notice anyway just a day later we were at the usual managers meeting at Caledonian House and he was seated along from me next to Steve Fee and he leaned round Steve and just raised his eyebrows. I said “Its in, its working along with the printer” “I didn’t ask for a printer, but what a good idea, good man” said John. Not a massive encounter but enough to remain an albeit slightly amusing and fond memory of one of the countless number of people I am proud to say I met during my 20+ years at British Caledonian.

From Cherry Perkins
Very sad to learn the news. I was secretary to John from 1964 and he was a great boss. Last time I saw him was when he came to Dave's memorial at the Surrey & Sussex, joining us at the Skylane afterwards. My thoughts are with Di and the family.

From Tony Cocklin
Very sad news, indeed. I didn't work closely with John but knew him quite well and remember him as a highly-respected Ops professional. He always seemed to me to be one of BCAL's pillars of strength. At the same time, John was a kindly person and a true gentlemen - always very helpful to those of us not on the 'technical' side of the airline.

From Brian Russell
Very sad news - Al Reeves and I are in Florida and were just talking about him which is a sad coincidence. In the early days of Cal/BUA merger he used to terrify me with his larger than life confidence and knowledge (and stomach) - later I gained profound respect and learned much from that era an John. Condolences to his family - Best wishes to all.

From Derek Epps
I still have vivid memories of sitting naked in a sauna in Helsinki with John negotiating the Finnair Cargo contract. John's logic was that it was difficult to argue with a man when he had no clothes on!! Like Trevor I remember that awful meeting run by Norma Jackson but John rose above all that with dignity. He will be long in my memory.

From Pete Nettlefold
Another great loss, he was very much the leading light when I joined way back, good and slightly terrifying memories of John but what an influence on how our business ran. Condolences to his family.

From Neil Warringer
I worked with John for a while and he was always a gentleman, an aviation giant in many ways. He spent considerable time and effort wrestling with Article 8 of the SGHA trying to find a solution and that would have defeated a lesser man. That is also part of his inheritance for the industry

From Mario Costa
We are all very sad with the news about John Grant. Much we have learned under his management, both in BUA and BCAL. A devoted manager, a friendly colleague and a nice friend so was he. Our condolences to Di and all the other members his family.  (Mario was Airports manager for Brasil)

From Richard Havers : Sad news. He was a lovely man who I enjoyed very much. Fondly remembered. Richard Havers

From Dick Holder : Yet another fine airman bites the dust, too many now!

From George Banks
I didnt know John very well but he was always helpful whenever we met down route and it only seems like yesterday that he was telling me about his early retirement offer and how he couldnt refuse it.

From Doug Ledingham
A very sad loss. Like so many I also had some memorable conversations with John, he was a remarkable manager. My condolences to his family and kind regards to all.

From Bob Coleman
John was a big man in so many ways - imposing in stature, generous in friendship, widely knowledgeable about passenger and aircraft handling systems and procedures, and totally loyal to BUA/BCAL. He will be greatly missed by all of us who had the luck and privilege of working with him, and I know that our thoughts and sympathy are with Di and the family.

From Liz Lockhart-Mure
John was always so supportive to us lot who were down route. I enjoyed catching up with John again at a Traffic Reunion a couple of years ago. My deepest sympathies to Di and the family.

From Ricky Cuss
Such lovely and well deserved tributes to such a great and dedicated aviator. At 17yrs, working as a BUA 'weekender', he frightened the life out of me! Later I found him to be a kind and humorous man, full of common sense and generous with his advice and wisdom. As many have said, an inspiration and a gentleman.

From Alan Reeves
As Brian Russell said we were only talking of days of old and John came up in pleasant conversation and then the sad loss just days later. Ricky had it right - a true Gentleman.

From Roy Marshall
Well respected throughout the aviation industry and what he did not know about ground handling agreements was not worth knowing. My first boss in Caledonian/BUA. I was introduced (or handed over is better way of saying it) to John in his office in the beehive. Clouds of smoke and there sat John. Our first task was to take over the West African routes from BOAC. John went Lagos and I went to Accra. The first VC10 came thro Accra and hopped on it to see John. The front door of the aircraft opened and as the steps came up to the door, there was John in full flight shouting ‘out of the way it’s loo time’. He was not really one for the local food. You never stopped learning when you were with John. Great man. Love to Di.

From Lucien Guillaume
I am deeply sorry to learn of the sad news. I have always appreciated the friendly professionalism of John Grant and the opportunity to meet and work with him at the annual meeting of the IATA Ground Handling Committee, an event I was looking forward to attending. He certainly provided a well thought out and valuable input there. I am pleased that we were able to keep on meeting annually at various locations with some other members (and spouses) of the GHA group after our retirements to maintain the atmosphere of good camaraderie built up over the years. I will miss him deeply. I send my condolences to his family. Lucien Guillaume, previously: Ground Handling Contracts, Air Canada

From Alan Painter
John was a true 'professional' dedicated to the cause and his special sense of humour in difficult moments was something to relish. All those who worked alongside John will be deeply saddened to learn of his death. I joined BUA in May1 969 as Manager Tunisia where he greatly assisted me in overseeing the BAC1-11 aircraft handling start up and then more importantly the later VC10 start up in Casablanca of which I retain particularly vivid memories. I can still see him rolling his eyes at the ‘incompetence’ and other expressions of frustration with the Moroccan ground handling staff in an attempt to encourage their endeavours in the aircraft turnround for a timely departure to Rio. With condolences and deepest sympathy to Di and family.

From Jan Summers
I have just learned (9th Dec) about John and I am devastated. I started with Caledonian Airways 1969, so knew John in the very early days. As John grew with the company he never forgot his roots, or got too big for his boots. He always kept his sense of fairness and he was a great guy to have on your side in a fight. I always felt sorry for the other side! Whenever I saw John he always greeted me like an old friend. He was also a good shoulder to cry on. John you will be missed, theres not many like you in this world. Jan Summers. Formally Elliott, formally Hammond. Ground Services

From Linda and Ken Collyer
Always remember John’s voice booming across the concourse for one thing or another. Unless my mind has gone (probably) seem to remember John helping to load aircraft when the Loaders were on strike - again - and hitting a wing. Does anyone else remember this or have I gone completely mad? Will miss his face at the Reunions.

If you would like to leave a message in remembrance please drop me a line anytime

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Sadly John passed away on 17 November 2010 after a lengthy illness. He was 81, and died at his home in Furnace Green Crawley. He is survived by his wife Di, 3 daughters and a son.

John started his aviation career at Croydon Airport with Transair, moved to Gatwick with the formation of BUA, and eventually took early retirement from BCAL as Manager Ground Handling Contracts.

The service was held on Friday 3rd December in St Richards Chapel at the Crawley Crematorium in Worth.
British Caledonian - A Tribute