The Airline Encyclopedia 1909-2000, 3 volumes edited
by Myron J. Smith Jr. (Scarecrow Press) Myron J. ("Jack") Smith Jr. has
earned a well-deserved reputation as the foremost bibliographer of his
generation. Over the past quarter century, he has published over 60 volumes of
annotated bibliographical studies that have been widely used by scholars in a
variety of fields, especially business, military, pro sports, and aeronautical
Smith's latest project is his most ambitious effort to date
and combines a love of information gathering with concise narrative. He has
compiled detailed operational and statistical profiles of more than 6,000
commercial air transport companies over the 91 years from 1909 into 2000. The
research required for such a compilation can only be described as staggering. I
have no doubts whatsoever that generations of aeronautical, business, and
military historians will use this work as a fundamental reference tool. It will
save researchers enormous amounts of time and effort to have the basic
information on airlines so readily at hand.
Excerpt: In the beginning, aviation as a means of
transport, especially for passengers, was considered wildly impractical.
Critics and cynics derided the few who speculated positively on the concept and
even Orville Wright was once heard to describe the chances of transatlantic
flight as "a bare possibility." As we all know, the developments of technology,
stimulus from private plus national and international governmental sources, and
the inspiration of some gifted individuals have brought, indeed wrought, a
revolution in this aspect of world trade.
When it began nine decades ago, commercial air transport
was little more than an experimental dream; for passengers, freight, mail, and
express, the principal mode of delivery was by ground or water. The airlines'
grew in response to their ability to provide speed of delivery for any or all
type of person or goods. In many places such as the United States, air shipment
of goods, i.e.., mail, came before purposeful transport of people. Still, by
the mid- to late 1920s, passenger air transport was a goal for carriers around
the world. As the cowboy philosopher Will Rogers put it during the early 1930s,
"if your time is worth anything, travel by air. If not, you might as well
In the period between the wars, substantial growth in
passenger transport occurred. However, the business-often portrayed as
romantic-remained primarily a subsidized service for the rich or those needing
rapid delivery of high-priority goods or mail. Airport and air traffic control
was primitive; crashes were common and usually every bit the center of media
(newspaper) attention then as now. Still, demand for the air transport of
passengers alone (excluding mail or cargo) rose gradually. It grew from a few
thousand in the years just before and after World War I to 18.2 million in
1946, the first year in which the International Civil Aviation Organization
(ICAO), an arm of the United Nations, reported world figures.
Following the Second World War, to which almost all of the
world's airlines contributed support and from which nearly all benefited in
terms of financial, operational, or technical advancement, the air transport
industry blossomed in a burst of innovative activity. New concepts of delivery
were put into practice, increasingly more-sophisticated equipment came on line,
and government assistance, support, and regulation grew on both the national and
international level. Marketing personnel worked overtime to make flying seem
ever more glamorous for everyone.
As a result, the 1946 ICAO passenger figure had more than
doubled by 1951 to 39.9 million and by 1956 had risen to 78 million. Commercial
domestic and international flight achieved extraordinary expansion everywhere.
By the end of the 1950s, airplanes, led by the introduction of jetliners, had
largely replaced the ocean liner as the prime mode of transoceanic passenger
transport. Over the next three decades, air travel within some geographical
areas, such as the United States, had replaced large segments of public ground
passenger transport for trips over a few hundred miles. The one hundred million
(108 million) mark in passenger boardings was achieved in 1960 and hit 891
million in 1985.
Still, the industry since the 1960s, particularly in the
U.S., has been subject to a period of almost-regular economic boom and bust,
usually in parallel with fiscal recessions. Particularly difficult years were
1969-1974 (marked by excessive capacity), 1980-1982
(fallout from deregulation), and 1990-1994 (remembered for its overcapacity,
valueconscious passengers, and erosion of airline balance sheets). Many
airlines failed in these hard times, just as they had earlier in the Great
Depression or in the late 1940s. Deregulation has taken a heavy toll; of all
the scheduled U.S. passenger-service airlines that started up in the 14 years
from 1978 to 1992, only two remained in existence as late as 1996.
The Asian economic crisis, which began on 1997 and lasted
for several years, brought hardship and difficulties for carriers in that part
of the world. Meanwhile, privatization in Canada and Europe has rewarded some
scheduled airlines (Lufthansa, British Airways, and Air France), brought ruin to
others (e.g., Canadian Airlines and over 100 start-ups in Russia), and spawned
low-cost carriers that have sometimes been very successful (e.g., EasyJet,
WestJet) and sometimes not (e.g., Debonair). The number of charter airlines has
steadily declined during these years as that industry has consolidated.
Despite severe recessions, innovations in technology,
administration, marketing, cooperation, and deregulation, as well as the end of
colonial empires (including the Soviet Union), have propelled this progress
along and increased demand for it. In 1997, 1,479,012,000 travelers flew
worldwide. That figure in 1998 is 1,586,051,000. According to preliminary 1998
ICAO figures, total traffic thus remains level with a 1 percent increase, a
sharp slowdown from the average 7 percent increase over the previous five years.
The trend continued in 1999 as preliminary ICAO numbers dipped to
Today, still due largely to the speed it offers, commercial
aviation is a major world industry. ICAO reported operating revenues of $291
billion for 1997 and operating income, or profits, of $16.3 billion for its
represented states. The revenue line climbed to $298.5 billion in 1998, with
operating income up to $16.5 billion. Net gain for the year totaled $9.5
billion. Although revenues advanced by 3.7% in 1999 to $306.5 billion, operating
expenses led by fuel costs, soared 5.2% to $294 billion. The operating profit
fell to $12.5 billion.
In 1997, the International Air Transport Association (IATA)
also reported significant gain, showing earnings of $5 billion for its members
from their strictly international services, a figure down slightly from the
all-time record of $5.2 billion in earnings reported in 1995, but up from the $3
billion of 1996. The final result after interest in 1998 totaled $3.1 billion,
but dropped significantly in 1999 to just $1.9 billion.
Much of the income here celebrated remains dependent upon
passenger revenues; airplanes simply cannot deliver bulk cargo in sufficiently
profitable quantity as to replace railroads, trucks, barges, or supertankers.
Despite the best efforts of a number of all-cargo airlines over the years, only
a few companies have been able to make a success of the air freight business.
Still, post, express, and time-sensitive cargo provides important income for
those (largely regional or niche) freighters that survive, as well as for the
diversified or passenger companies, scheduled and unscheduled alike, that haul
cargo to supplement income.'
As this book is completed, all doubt concerning the value
of domestic and international air commerce has long since been removed. Having
grown and largely matured, the miracle of airborne mobility continues to receive
its greatest tribute in this fact: millions of people around the globe simply
use it daily and take it for granted. Like numerous of his other prophetic
observations, Will Rogers' air transport assertion, right years ago, is still
Although there is some debate as to which was the world's
first effective commercial airline, we have chosen to assign that honor to both
DELAG (Die Deutsche Luftschiffahrt-Aktiengesellschaft, GmbH.) and the St.
Petersburg-Tampa Airboat Line. Both contributed significant "firsts" to air
transport history during the century's second decade, though each flew different
kinds of equipment .
Formed by Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin on November 16,
1909, DELAG's lighter-than-air ships carried over 34,000 passengers without
injury between the major German cities between 1910 and November 1913. Briefly
reborn in 1919, the company relaunched dirigible service between Friedrichshafen
and Berlin on August 24, only to be shut down by the Allied Control Commission
on December 1. In 103 flights between these dates, the lone airship Bodensee
transported 2,400 passengers and 66,140 pounds of cargo.
Meanwhile, the Florida-based St. Petersburg-Tampa Airboat
Line, which began four months of service on January 1, 1914, was the first
scheduled airline to employ heavier-than-air planes. In addition, Paul Fansler's
pioneering and also accident-free operation maintained the premier regularly
scheduled freight/passenger service over a defined route, under an official (if
local) government subsidy contract. Further attempts to provide these levels of
service, dirigible or airplane, would not occur again until after the First
World War. From 1919 on, airline growth and progress has been, if at first
faltering, nevertheless, relentless.
As those companies now extant continue to grow, it was
difficult for this author to quit an almost-daily effort to provide coverage.
But then, an old story came to mind. Years ago, one Martial wrote to a friend
concerning a volume then being prepared. It was suggested by the book's author
that the tome be enlarged and more information included. The learned man replied
that writer must call a halt, "otherwise, dear Avitus, there will be no book."
Given the time lag in the availability of traffic,
financial, and other statistical or even operational data, 1999 is the last year
for which detailed information was plentiful for operators worldwide. Most of
the statistical information that would be available for inclusion was thus in
the writer's computer by August 1, 2000. As certain events of importance
occurring during the following first two quarters plus, including the launch of
several new airlines (and failure of others), became known, they were reported.
Following Martial's ancient advice, the cut-off date for coverage is the end of
October 2000, with only the most important data added during the
editing/indexing phase in the months thereafter.
The progress of events and developments must, as the result
of our cutoff date, be left suspended. Numerous questions concerning specific
carriers remain to be settled. Even as this work is being edited, several more
new entrants are poised for takeoff here and abroad while others are on death's
door and may fold-or, like a few others, find it possible to revive.
Will VASP Brasilian Airlines-Viacao Aerea Sao Paulo, S.A
and other South American carriers in a similar financial position-survive in the
short-run? Will the airlines of the Caribbean be able to better coordinate their
activities? Can equity partners be found for companies Eastern European flag
carriers like MALEV Hungarian Airlines, Rt.? Will U.S. discount or niche
carriers, like Vanguard Airlines or the fourth National Airlines, survive? Will
there be additional consolidation among U.S. majors? How many Chinese and
Russian airlines will merge and which ones will disappear or change their names?
How will the further integration of Western Europe's in house charter carriers
proceed? North of the U.S. border, how will domestic Canadian competition
flourish with the enlargement of Canada 3000 to say nothing of the merger of the
Air Canada Connection partners into the super Air Canada Regional, Inc. What
will the airlines scene be like in India or Indonesia in the next five years?
A whole list of additional queries just as germane (but
based more on technical change, politics, economics and fuel distribution, or
management on a wider scale) also need review. For example, will the continuing
fuel-price crisis take a larger toll among the world's airlines? What will be
the final impact of the coming of the regional jet on airline operations? Will
additional airport capacity be forthcoming and will the "hub and spoke" concept
continue? will customer complaints concerning poor ground and cabin service,
airliner seat size, and lost baggage be more successfully addressed in this
century than it was in the one just concluded? What will be the additional
impact of computers on operations and service? Will airline unions grow or
decline in importance? Can ATC and other flight delay problems around the world,
especially in the United States and Western Europe, be resolved in a manner
satisfactory to passengers, governments, and airlines alike? How will changes in
frequent flyer programs impact customers or airline yields? Can safety in the
skies be improved as dramatically in northwest Asia or Africa as it has been in,
say, Russia? Will the world's airlines continue to bind themselves together into
alliances like Star or One World or combines like Grupo TACA?
The purpose of
The Airline Encyclopedia 1909-2000 is not to retell, in overview and
analysis, the story of the world's air transport industry. This has been done by
others more adequately in their full-length studies 5 Brief biographies of
airline companies have, in the past, appeared in aviation directories, either
standalone books or insertions in magazines, such as the annual directory in
Flight International. They have also appeared in corporation guides, such as
Moody's Transportation Manual or the various Hoover handbooks.
This is, however, the first guide written to specifically
provide detailed historical and in-depth year by year operational and
statistical profiles for a significant number of the commercial air transport
concerns extant worldwide during the past 90 years.
Thousands of flying concerns have been in operation through
the last nine decades; regretfully, many more than we are able to cover. The
majority of these have quickly come and gone, usually stimulated by some grand
opportunity. For example, a huge number of surplus aircraft and trained airmen
became available after the Second World War and were joined together in a
hoped-for air transport revolution. The Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) once
estimated that 3,600 U.S. carriers were established in the three years after
World War II. There were 30 private charter carriers in France in 1946 and
Flight listed 70 independent companies flying in Britain in April 1949. All of
these were mostly one-man operations that quickly died.
Rotary-wing airlines and air charter operations were growth
innovations of the 1950s and 1960s. Only a few helicopter airlines currently
exist, although many others provide lift in support of such commercial
enterprises as the offshore energy industry and forestry. In some countries,
civil helicopter operators are contracted to act as coast guard
search-and-rescue units. Charter companies have had a tremendous failure rate;
although many continue to be formed, many have also failed. The same is true of
commuter airlines (now known as the regional airlines), which grew out of the
air taxi industry in these years. Most of those surviving are now affiliated
with larger, scheduled carriers, either as partners or as outright fully owned
Another period of intense growth came in the late 1970s and
1980s, with airline deregulation, privatization, and liberalization. In the
United States, following the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978, new entrants,
many offering huge fare discounts to passengers, multiplied; in the fierce
competition that followed, many of these also perished. Other regions have also
seen similar growth; easyJet, Ltd. in the United Kingdom and Azzur Air, S.p.A.
in Italy are recent examples.
Among the 6,100-plus companies that we do examine are
pioneers such as DELAG and the St. Petersburg-Tampa Airboat Line. Also included
are such defunct historic lines as North Central Airlines, Hunting-Clan Air
Transport, Ltd., East African Airways Corporation, Pan American World Airways
(1), or Canadian Pacific Air Lines, Ltd. In addition, we review the stories,
often in considerable detail, of contemporary major and regional passenger
carriers, large and small, scheduled and unscheduled, around the world. Examples
include American Airlines, Japan Air Lines Company, Ltd. (2), Mexicana Airlines,
S.A. de C.V., Transaero Airlines, Britannia Airways, Ltd., Iraqi Airways, and SA
Express (Pty.), Ltd.
Major freight lines such as FedEx and Nippon Cargo
Airlines, Ltd. are included. Rotary-wing airlines such as New York Helicopter
Corporation, or helicopter companies that provide on- or offshore passenger
charters, carry cargo, save lives, fight fires, or harvest timber, such as
Bristow Helicopters, Ltd. or Erickson Air Crane are listed as well. A number of
passenger-oriented general aviation or executive transport concerns are also
included. Even small, often short-lived charter operators based on fixed base
operators (FBO) are noted as data permits.
Very few airline types are specifically excluded. Military
air transport divisions, such as Military Airlift Command, or covert operations
with no civil cover, like Air America, are generally not included. However,
space is given to a few military units in foreign countries specifically tasked
to transport civilians, such as TAME (Transportes Aereos Nacionals
Ecuatorianos) operated by the Ecuadorian Air Force. Due to their number,
dedicated air ambulance operators are excluded as are most, though not all, of
the smaller helicopter and fixed-wing tour, cropdusting, or bush operators.
The Airline Encyclopedia 1909-2000 are arranged alphabetically, from A
to Z. Data enhancing the company profiles varies, being more complex for those
larger concerns still viable at the time the work was finished. Corporate
information for the very new is often spotty, sometimes consisting only of
city/country location and start-up date. In addition to available traffic and
financial information provided, every effort has been made to include
information on the following points:
Aircraft, routes, and services operated
Associated personnel, both company and celebrity Alliances, pool, and interline services records Accidents and incidents
Terrorism and in-flight crime
Government service in war and peace, including covert operations Major sporting or political occasions (e.g., Olympic Games or political conventions)
Natural disasters, such as hurricanes or earthquakes
Literary or film references or production involvement
Unusual anecdotes believed by the writer to have historical interest Literally thousands of different classes of service and special promotions have been offered over the years, some for only short periods of time; those believed to be of historical or other interest are noted, including many of those given specific names.
A primary consideration for an operator's inclusion here
was the identification of a beginning date. To claim a company was active in a
given decade (say the 1930s or 1950s) is too vague a reference to obtain a slot
for the concern herein because it would prove very difficult, if not
impossible, to build a start to finish chronological corporate biography. I am
aware that critics will argue that a number of carriers have thus been omitted
which deserved inclusion. If they will assist me in obtaining correct
information, new profiles will be constructed for the next edition.
If a company is known to have ceased trading before the
completion of this compilation, the airline is noted by its name, nationality,
and date of operation. If an airline is still flying (or believed to be, without
evidence to the contrary in hand), the directory data is much more extensive.
For those carriers, we offer not only name, but, as available, address,
telephone and fax numbers, Internet website addresses, two-letter IATA or
three-letter ICAO codes, and year founded. Traffic and financial data, taken
from government, international organization, industry, and regulatory reports
are also provided as available.
Every effort has been made to properly identify aircraft
employed by the various carriers. However, with all the selling, trading, and
leasing of airliners over the years, this is a nearly impossible goal. Rather
than provide generic model numbers (e.g., All Nippon Airways Company, Ltd.
Boeing 747-400), we have attempted to be correct (e.g., ANA Boeing 747-481).
Where we have failed to be exactly correct (which can happen particularly with
the advent of large-scale aircraft leasing), we assume the fault and await
assistance from readers.
No effort is made to provide complete fleet lists; such
data would require too much space and is available elsewhere in print and on
the World Wide Web. I have been particularly impressed with the Herculean
efforts made by William "Bill" Harris, who has given us a huge Commercial Jet
Aircraft Census (http://www.bird.
ch/bharris). This site allows one to choose census lists from Airbus,
Boeing, McDonnell Douglas, or Lockheed; it also allows its users to review the
latest "Jet Airliner Status Report," an updated "Jet Airliner Total Losses"
list; or to review Harris's database by "Airline 2- & 3-Letter Codes."
The names, official and otherwise, assigned to aircraft by
manufacturers or operators are often given. The author is aware that this is a
reference quagmire in that these names are changed often, may be used more than
once, and are not an accurate tool for identification. Like the names of
specific services, they are, however, colorful and, in the case of certain
earlier airlines, such as Imperial Airways, Ltd., and even some modern lines,
such as the second Pan American World Airways, add spice to the tale and are
therefore employed as known.
For the most part, company portraits are presented under
the most recent airline name, as well as predecessor identity. For example,
today's British Airways traces its heritage back through British Overseas
Airways Corporation (BOAC), British European Airways Corporation (BEA), the
first British Airways and Imperial Airways, Ltd. to several small companies
merged in 1924. There are a few cases (and BA is one of them) where the name has
changed slightly, usually by virtue of privatization; in those cases,
identified in the text, the previous name may be retained for the sake of
consistency and orderly profile completion. Where there have been more than one
company with the same name, these are entered chronologically and identified by
number, e.g., Japan Air Lines Company, Ltd. (1) and Japan Air Lines Company,
Each profile receives individual chronological coverage.
Company cross-referencing is provided throughout the text and within entries,
where names of other covered carriers are shown in bold type in the same manner
as specific years, e.g., 1997. As a textual aid, italics are employed for book
and motion picture names, and names of specific aircraft. To save space,
airlines are sometimes referred to within their profiles by abbreviations.
This work contains two appendixes: a list of Acronyms and
Abbreviations used in this book, and a list of Research Sources pertaining to
the airline industry. The abbreviations include international and governmental
organizations and institutions, airline codes, airports, and measurements. The
descriptive list of sources includes bibliographies, newspapers and journals,
indices, handbook, book publishers, and Internet websites dealing with all
aspects of the airline industry.
Two indexes are included: Regional Index of Carriers, and
Name and Subject Index. The Regional Index lists airlines profiled by nation.
Beginning with Africa and the Mideast, it proceeds to Asia and Oceania, moves on
to Europe (including the CIS), then South America, and concludes with an
accounting of the carriers of Canada and the United States.
The master Name and Subject Index is keyed to airlines and
is designed to allow detailed entry into the "who" and "what" of the
Serving as something of a "who's who" or "who was who" of
the airline scene, the Name and Subject Index covers individuals mentioned in
the profiles. Among these are airline founders, chairmen, presidents,
directors, vice presidents, and chief pilots. Other diverse personnel noted
include transport ministers and other government officials (not excluding prime
ministers, presidents, and dictators); aviation industry, union, association,
and trade executives and representatives; sports, entertainment, and media
celebrities; financiers, investors, and consultants; military, police, and
intelligence officers; criminals, terrorists, and skyjackers; and average
The subject portion of the Name and Subject Index provides
extensive coverage of such topics as skyjacking and fatal crashes. Information
can also be found on other such relevant areas as: international incidents; bad
landings/nonfatal ditchings; engine/propeller failures; turbulence and general
weather related problems; near-misses; unusual in-flight events; crimes; ground
fires and other difficulties; wars, crises, evacuations; hurricanes and floods;
motion pictures and novels based on or depicting actual airlines; "firsts";
"records"; provinces and states of Canadian and U.S. based airlines; strikes/job
related events; aircraft launch customers; named services; and manufacturing,
legal and judicial, financial, government, and travel agencies sponsoring or
otherwise involved in or with the airline industry.
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