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Review Essays of Academic, Professional & Technical Books in the Humanities & Sciences


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 history.

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 walk!"

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 1,581,814,000.'

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 correct today.

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 subsidiaries.

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.

Entries within 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, Ltd. (2).

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 encyclopedia.

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 passengers.

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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