IT was just like old times.

Up at the crack of dawn, a short 1200km flight from Bournemouth to a beautiful European city and back home in time for bed.

Six years after the last day trips were operated, nearly 400 passengers enjoyed a little outing to Venice yesterday and Sunday, courtesy of businessman Stephen Bath.

Bournemouth Echo:

Mr Bath, former managing director of Bath Travel and son of Palmair founder, Peter Bath, chartered a 189-seat TUI Boeing 737 for 48 hours to run the two trips and he filled them both.

He said: "These days out were a real phenomenon in the 1990s and 2000s. Some years we would take as many as 7,000 people to cities across Europe. I just thought it was time we brought them back and it seems they are still really popular."

Bournemouth Echo:

He added: "Venice was always the most popular destination so it seemed like the obvious place to start. It is an absolutely stunning city with so many sights, St Mark's Square, Rialto Bridge and Grand Canal to name just three.

On the flights over to Marco Polo Airport he spoke to passengers over the intercom and dedicated the revival of the day trips to his father.

Many of the trippers were veterans of the old Bath Travel/Palmair operations.

Bournemouth Echo:

They included Michael Richards and Betty Adams both 91.

"I went on many of trips back in the day, including Concorde from Bournemouth," said Michael. "I wasn't going to miss this one."

Another passenger was Bath Travel's former Christchurch branch manager, Norman Hurst, who retired in 2008.

Bournemouth Echo:

He had a particularly special reason to join the Sunday flight. His son Paul, a senior captain, was flying the aircraft to Venice.

"I gave him a seven out of ten for the landing," joked Norman. "It was a ten but I thought I would keep him on his toes."

Mr Bath is looking at more trips later this year or next, possibly including Rome, again under his own brand, Stephen Bath Travel.

"It's a lot scarier when you are using your own name and your own money to underpin it all, but it is great to be back." he added.