Joseph James “Joe” Gaggero CBE, GMH, KHS, KFO (20 November 1927 – 10 February 2012) was a Gibraltarian businessman, and president of The Bland Group of Companies, which concentrates its business in shipping, aviation and travel.
Joe was born in Gibraltar, son of Sir George Gaggero. He was educated in the UK at Worth School, West Sussex, and Downside School, Bath. At the age of 20, following management training with BEA, Joe joined his father in the family’s travel and transport group, Blands, which had been created in Gibraltar in 1810. The year of Joe’s joining the business also marked the start of what would be a long-standing and mutually beneficial relationship between Bland-owned Gibraltar Airways (now GB Airways) and BEA (now British Airways) to serve the West Mediterranean region. When Joe took over as Chairman and Chief Executive in the 1960s, the Bland Group comprised GB Airways, Gibraltar’s Rock Hotel, Bland Travel, Cadogan Travel and other companies in Spain and Morocco.
In 1964, economic restrictions were imposed by Spain on Gibraltar, and Joe was instrumental in ensuring that Gibraltar Airways secured a licence to participate on the vital London route. As a result of this, geographical diversification created and added turnover to reduce financial risk and enhanced the ability of the Group to compete internationally. In 1989, GB Airways transferred its operational base to the UK, going on to operate 44 routes across the entire Mediterranean area, into the Red Sea, the Atlantic’s Canary Islands and Madeira. GB Airways employed almost 1000 people, carrying 3 million passengers annually in one of Europe’s most successful aviation businesses. In 2008, in an environment of increasing economic uncertainty, GB Airways was sold to easyJet in a £103m deal.
During his lifetime, Joe served on or led various Government committees and Gibraltar Trading Associations. In 2011, he was appointed a Knight First Class of the Royal Order of Francis I within the Delegation of Great Britain and Ireland.
Joe was honoured by The British Travel & Hospitality Hall of Fame in 2007