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The Regional Jet Airlines of Long Island MacArthur Airport

Introduction:

The story of the 50-seat regional jet, produced by Canadair and Embraer-and preceded, to a lesser degree, by the Fokker F.28 Fellowship and the British Aerospace BAe-146-was, in many ways, Long Island MacArthur Airport’s story, since the type finally facilitated major carrier aligned hub feed service. Representing larger airline reach to smaller and secondary airfields, it offered the same speed, block times, and comfort as the traditionally larger mainline jets, plugging the gap between them and the 19- to 50-passenger turboprop aircraft that were too small and too slow for many of these sectors.

The need, in great part, was created by the airline deregulation bred rise of the hub-and-spoke route system in the US. Funneling and feeding passengers to the higher-capacity aircraft of the majors, such as American, Continental, Delta, and United, from longer, but thin segments operated by regional airlines that bore the majors’ two-letter code and livery, the originally independent commuter carriers rapidly expanded themselves, primarily because of this new type of jet. It was the right aircraft at the right time and led to what has been called the “regional jet revolution.”

Not only were the regional jets the most cost-efficient way for airlines to link hundreds, if not thousands, of communities to airport hubs and global airline networks,” according to Bombardier Aerospace (which subsequently acquired Canadair), “these innovative aircraft enhanced the passenger travel experience and provided regional airlines with increased traffic, revenues, and greater market share. To further increase traffic growth, the idea of using the Canadair Regional Jet to fly between ‘spoke’ cities was promoted. Every new spoke city increased the number of connecting passengers flying to a regional airline’s mainline partner’s hub. These additional routes provided passengers in small communities with more flight options.”

This certainly occurred at Islip’s Long Island MacArthur Airport.

“There are literally hundreds of markets out there that could not support regular jet service, but 30-, 50-, and 70-seaters can now bring jet comfort and economic service,” commented Doug Blissit, once Delta Air Lines’ vice president of network analysis. “The regional jets are a phenomenal economic transformation of the industry. The vast majority of deployments have been to extend the reach of the hubs with more economical aircraft.”

Over and above the type’s cooperative nature, it also had a competitive side. It could be considered a tool that attacked major airlines’ hub-and-spoke fortresses, enabling smaller carriers that began as traditional turboprop commuters to penetrate the cracks in the majors’ armor, forging new point-to-point routes that did not need hub feed for adequate load factors.

Early Regional Jet Operations:

Perhaps the earliest regional jet in the western world, which eliminates the Russian tri-engine, 27-passenger Yakovlev Yak-40 from the discussion, was the Fokker F.28 Fellowship.

The popularity of its high-wing, twin-turboprop, 40-passenger F.27 Friendship, like a compass needle pointing in the direction of a pure-jet complement that would offer higher speeds and hence decreased block times, led to the development of the F.28 itself.

Announced in April of 1962, it was intended for short-field operations, but offer higher seating for 65 in a fuselage wide enough for five-abreast arrangements. Appearing similar to the mainline jets, such as the British Aircraft Corporation BAC-111 and the McDonnell-Douglas DC-9, it featured a low-mounted, compoundly swept wing on its leading edge, two aft-mounted Rolls Royce RB.183 Spey Junior turbofans, a dorsal fin, and a t-tail, yet retained simplicity by eliminating any leading edge devices. Unique to its design was a hydraulically actuated petal airbrake that formed the aft end of the fuselage. Extendable to varying degrees, it facilitated steep, but slow and controlled descent profiles.

Aside from financial backing provided by the Dutch government, the program’s risk sharing came from Short Brothers of Belfast, Northern Ireland; HFB and VFW of Germany; and AiResearch, Dowty Rotol, and Goodyear.

Three prototypes respectively first flew on May 9, August 3, ad October 20 of 1967 and the first production version, the F.28-1000, was delivered to launch customer LTU of Germany on February 24 two years later. As had occurred with the F.27, sales could be counted in single digits, since the F.28 was usually the largest type in a small airline’s fleet.

A stretched version, the F.28-4000, featured a 97.2-foot overall length and an almost 12-foot greater wingspan of 82.3 feet. Powered by two 9,850 thrust-pound Rolls Royce Spey 555-15H turbofans, it had a 73,000-pound maximum takeoff weight, a 530-mph cruising speed at 21,000 feet, and maximum payload-to-fuel ratio ranges of 1,162 to 2,560 miles. Although it accommodated 79 five-abreast, single-class passengers, six more, for an 85-total, could be carried at a 29-inch seat pitch with the installation of an additional overwing exit on each side.

The type factored into Piedmont’s Islip operation.

Piedmont itself inaugurated its scheduled aerial link as far back as February 20, 1948 with flight 41. Departing Wilmington, North Carolina, at 0700, its DC-3 made the multiple-hop journey to Pinehurst, Charlotte, Ashville, the Tri-Cities, Lexington, and Cincinnati. Two other aircraft of the type and 250 employees constituted its metal and human backbone.

With progressive expansions, particularly with route extensions to Atlanta, it initially fed the flights of Delta and Eastern, significantly growing until it became a US major in its own right. Perhaps symbolic of its prestige was both its literal and large-airline image arrival in New York in 1966.

Profits mounted: $1 million in 1965 and almost double that two years later. Erecting its first hub in Charlotte, North Carolina, it radiated its reach to major cities, such as Boston, Pittsburgh, Tampa, Miami, Dallas/Ft. Worth, and Denver, exceeding, in the number of passengers carried, Eastern Airlines’ traditional Charlotte stronghold.

Operating 727-100s, 727-200s, and 737-200s-the latter its short- to medium-range workhorse-it advertised in its October 31, 1982 system timetable, “We make it easy to get around to over 80 cities.”

Hubs were subsequently established in Baltimore and Dayton and widebody 767-200ERs eventually reached the West Coast and Europe.

By 1987, Piedmont operated a 177-strong fleet to some 235 destinations, carrying 23 million passengers, and thus became ripe for USAir’s $1.6 billion acquisition.

Capacity, particularly of the 65-passenger F.28-1000, ensured frequency at Long Island MacArthur Airport.

Of the five daily departures it dispatched to its Baltimore hub, the morning and evening ones were conducted with 128-passenger 737-300s; the mid-morning and mid-afternoon ones were flown with Henson, The Piedmont Regional Airline’s 37-passenger DHC-8-100s; and the noon sector was conducted with the F.28-1000, enabling it to “right-size” its equipment according to time of day, capacity, and demand.

When Piedmont acquired New York State-based and -concentrated Empire Airlines in 1986, along with its Syracuse hub and 85-passenger F.28-4000s, it deployed the type from Islip to feed its significantly developed Charlotte hub.

Another early regional jet was the British Aerospace BAe-146.

The ultimate design response to a need for a feeder or regional aircraft, it progressed through numerous iterations, including those of the high-wing, twin-turboprop DH.123 proposed by de Havilland and a low-wing one with aft-mounted engines until it arrived at the HS.146 of Hawker Siddeley with Avco Lycoming ALF-502 high bypass ratio turbofans. Because they did not generate the required thrust for the envisioned aircraft, only the use of four, pylon-mounted to the high wing’s underside, could ensure the needed performance and range.

Although the type’s official, 1973 launch appeared promising, the subsequent world recession, rising oil prices, and escalating development costs, rendered it ill-timed, resulting in its termination in October of 1974. Low-key development nevertheless continued.

After de Havilland and Hawker Siddeley were combined into the nationalized British Aerospace, and it conducted its own design and market review, it was government granted full-scale program development on July 10, 1978.

Final assembly took place at Hatfield.

Sporting, like the F.28 Fellowship, a t-tail and an aft petal, fuselage-forming airbrake for steep approaches, it deviated by having a high wing, also without leading edge devices, and the four turbofans. While its cabin was wide enough for six-abreast seating, most carriers chose five.

First flight of the BAe-146-100 from Hatfield occurred on September 3, 1981. Two successively higher-capacity, stretched versions, the BAe-146-200 and -300, followed.

The former, which first took to the air on August 1, 1982, featured a 93.10-foot length and an 86-foot span with a 15-degree sweepback and tabbed, trailing edge Fowler flaps. Up to 112 single-class passengers could be accommodated at a six-abreast, 29-inch pitch. Its maximum gross weight was 93,000 pounds and range, with a full payload, was 1,130 nautical miles.

The BAe-146 was inaugurated into service with Air Wisconsin on June 27, 1983.

Presidential Airways, founded by Harold J. Pareti in 1985 and headquartered in Washington, was the only operator of the type into Islip, maintaining a fleet of eight BAe-146-200s, in addition to its 737-200s. Connecting Long Island with its Dulles International hub, it later operated as a Continental Express and United Express code share carrier, respectively feeding each of its major’s flights in Washington.

Later Regional Jet Operations:

The first next-generation regional jet took form as the Canadair (later Bombardier) CRJ.

Aside from developing all-new designs, aircraft manufacturers of potential, low-capacity pure-jets had two options: scale down an existing mainline aircraft, such as the DC-9-10, which would have incorporated too much structural weight for its market, or scale up an aircraft. Those that fell into the latter category were business jets, although their narrow fuselages rendered them less than ideal for such a commercial application. Because of the wide cabin of its own CL-600 Challenger, which first flew in 1978, Canadair was able to choose the latter option.

Initially envisioned as incorporating a simple stretch with capacity for 24 four-abreast passengers and designated CL-600E, it was first publicized in 1980, but cancelled its plans to proceed with the version the following year. In 1987, or a year after Canadair was acquired by Bombardier, the small regional jet concept was reconsidered, leading to its launch in 1989.

A more ambitious version than originally considered, it introduced a 19.5-foot stretch, attained by means of forward and aft fuselage plugs, additional overwing emergency exits, a reinforced wing with increased fuel capacity, and two aft-mounted General Electric CF34 turbofans, in which guise it first took to the sky as a prototype on May 10, 1991. After a three-airplane flight test program, it received its FAA certification on October 29 of the following year, entering service with launch customer Lufthansa CityLine, which used it to provide both point-to-point and hub-feed service to Western European destinations from Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Hamburg, and Munich.

Exuding what one pilot called a “sexy look,” the initial CRJ-100 version featured a pointed nose, an 87.10-foot length, a 69.7-foot, winglet-attached span with a 520.4-square-foot area and trailing edge-only flaps, two 9,220 thrust-pound CF34-3A1 thrust reverser provisioned turbofans, and a t-tail. Fifty four-abreast passengers could be accommodated in slimline seats in a cabin with enclosed overhead storage compartments, a galley, and a lavatory.

Payload was 13,500 pounds, gross weight 53,000 pounds, and range 1,650 nautical miles.

The succeeding CRJ-200, powered by CF34-3B1s, offered greater range, lower fuel consumption, and increased cruise speeds and altitudes.

Sales of both types totaled 1,054.

Headquartered at Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky International Airport, Comair was Long Island MacArthur’s first modern regional jet operator.

Commencing service as an airline in 1977, it initially touched down in Akron/Canton, Cleveland, and Evansville with eight-passenger, piston powered Piper Navajos, succeeding them with 18-passenger turboprop Embraer EMB-110 Bandeirantes.

Accepted as a Delta Connection carrier and operating in its livery after its establishment of a Cincinnati hub in 1984, it significantly expanded, soon acquiring Fairchild Swearingen Metro, Shorts 330, Embraer, EMB-120 Brasilia, and Saab 340 equipment. Orlando became its second hub.

As the US launch customer for the Canadair Regional Jet, it operated 163 of the type, including 63 CRJ-100ERs, 37 CRJ-100LRs, 37 CRJ-200ERs, and 27 CRJ-700LRs, by 2005.

Delta had acquired 20 percent of Comair’s stock in 1996 and the remainder of it three years later.

The type was instrumental in its service inauguration to Islip, providing three daily morning, afternoon, and evening round trips to Cincinnati so that passengers could connect to its own and partner-Delta’s flights. That link opened the rest of the country and parts of Canada to Long Island.

Another Canadair Regional Jet operator from MacArthur, which was also a Delta Connection carrier, was ASA Atlantic Southeast Airlines.

Inaugurating independent scheduled service from Atlanta to Columbus, Georgia, with de Havilland of Canada DHC-6 Twin Other aircraft on June 27, 1979, it progressed through another turboprop, the EMB-110, before acquiring pure-jet BAe-146-200 and CRJ-200 types, which fed Delta’s Atlanta hub after it had concluded its own two-letter marketing agreement with it. As had occurred with Comair, ASA was appendaged by increasing stock purchases until Delta wholly owned it.

Cincinnati, reached in 2002, was its 100th destination and in 2003 it took delivery of its 100th regional jet. By 2011, it operated 112 CRJ-200ERs, 46 CRJ-700ERs, and 10 CRJ-900ERs.

Islip was connected to its own and Delta’s extensive Atlanta hub with three daily ASA-operated CRJ-200 round trips as of August 1, 1999. Comair later also served the route.

Another Canadair Regional Jet operator to Islip was Air Wisconsin, which was branded US Airways Express and reinstated the link lost due to Washington Reagan National slot restrictions, when its inbound aircraft, arriving at 1250 on March 25, 2012, was granted with a water curtain on MacArthur’s ramp.

Re-departing at 1328, it became the first of two daily CRJ-200 round trips. Although it was highly endorsed by law makers, it was short-lived.

The Canadair Regional Jet’s counterpart-if not competitor-was the Embraer ERJ-145.

Harnessing its power from never-before-available engines that enabled it to operate in primarily untapped markets, it sought to outweigh the higher fuel consumption of them as opposed to that of the traditional turboprop’s by increasing the daily utilization its shorter block times afforded, coupled with their greater passenger acceptance.

Unlike Canadair’s CL-600 Challenger business jet, it used the EMB-120 Brasilia as its inspirational foundation, introducing two fuselage plugs and a redesigned wing, with an extended leading edge chord, a slight sweepback, and winglets, but replacing its turboprop engines with pure-jet ones encased in pods. The t-tail was retained. It was initially designated the EMB-145 Amazon.

The Allison GMA-3007 turbofan, producing 7,100 pounds of thrust, with potential for up to 10,000, was selected in early-1990.

Iterations entailing reduced lengths, increased spans, greater fuel capacities, higher weights, and improved performance, led to the definitive ERJ-145 that first flew on August 1, 1995. Accommodating 50 single-class, three-abreast passengers with a partial step-down aisle at the very front of the cabin, it had a 12,755-pound payload and a 48,501-pound gross weight. It was first delivered to launch customer ExpressJet Airlines, operating as Continental Express, the following year, providing the capacity, speed, and range to match the demand on longer, thin routes to both feed its own flights and those of Continental.

“With its hub at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, Continental Airlines is the largest airline in northeast Ohio, with more than 250 daily departures to nearly 80 cities,” according to United Airlines’ March 29, 2004 Corporate News. “With one of the youngest fleets of airplanes in the United States, Continental and Continental Express offer convenient, high-frequency service from Cleveland Hopkins to major business centers, including Boston, New York (Newark Liberty, La Guardia, Kennedy, White Plains, and Islip), Washington (Reagan National, Baltimore-Washington, and Dulles), Chicago (O’Hare and Midway), Houston, and Atlanta.

Like other regional airlines, ExpressJet itself was the amalgamated result of several turboprop commuter carriers-among them Bar Harbor Airlines of Bangor, Maine; PBA Provincetown-Boston Airlines of Hyannis, Massachusetts; Rocky Mountain Airways of Denver, Colorado; and Brit Airways of Terre Haute, Indiana, all of which flew on the latter’s operating certificate.

It inaugurated ERJ-145 regional jet service on September 4, 1998 and ultimately became the type’s largest operator of all three versions, including the smaller, 37-passenger ERJ-135 and 44-passenger ERJ-140.

Its three daily morning, afternoon, and evening Islip-Cleveland frequencies, bearing “CO” flight numbers, linked Long Island with the rest of the country.

Another MacArthur Embraer regional jet carrier was American Eagle.

Like Continental Express, the American Eagle concept, which was unveiled in late-1984, resulted from American Airlines’ inability to economically serve secondary and tertiary markets with its mainline jets. It grew rapidly, feeding its hubs and progressing from turboprop to pure-jet equipment. The first officially designated American Eagle flight, from Fayetteville, Arkansas, to Dallas, took place on November 1 when one of its Metroflight’s 14 Convair 580s, powered by two 3,750-shp Allison 501-D13H turboprops, touched down at American’s southwest hub. The aircraft, converted from piston propelled CV-240s, -340s, and -440s, were eventually replaced with Saab 340s.

Second to join the fold, also that year, was Poughkeepsie, New York, based Command Airways, which operated Beech 99s, DHC-6 Twin Otters, Shorts 330s, Shorts 360s, and ATR-42s.

Simmons, the third, deployed Japanese NAMC YS-11s, Shorts 360s, ATR-42s, and ATR-72s from Chicago-O’Hare, and Wings West, the fourth, dispatched C99s, Fairchild Swearingen Metros, Jetstream 31s, and Saab 340s to West Coast destinations.

Lastly, Puerto Rico based Executive Airlines jumped into the pool on September 15, 1986, operating CASA C-212-200 Aviocars, Shorts 360s, and ATR-72s.

From Islip, it operated a midday ERJ-145 to Chicago-O’Hare, supplementing American’s morning and evening MD-80s, and replaced its four daily, 34-passenger Saab 340s (which had once flown in Business Express colors before AMR, Inc., acquired it and folded it into the American Eagle brand) with an equal number of 37-passenger ERJ-135 frequencies.

Yet another Long Island MacArthur American Eagle ERJ-145 operator was Piedmont, which traces its origins to Henson Airlines.

Founded in 1961 by Richard A. Henson, an aviation pioneer and Fairchild Aircraft test pilot, it planted sedentary roots as a fixed base operator in Hagerstown, Maryland, designated “Henson Aviation,” yet initiated scheduled service of its own from there to Washington in 1962 under the “Hagerstown Commuter” name.

Consummating a code share agreement with Allegheny Airlines five years later and replacing that carrier’s own service in Salisbury, Maryland, it expanded to Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington, boarding its one millionth passenger in 1977 and acquiring its first quad-engine, 54-passenger de Havilland of Canada DHC-7 two years after that.

Purchased by Piedmont Airlines in 1983, it was rebranded “Henson, The Piedmont Regional Airline.”

The following year it took delivery of the first 37-passenger DHC-8-100 and by the end of 1987, it served 38 destinations in ten states, as well as in the Bahamas.

After the 1989 merger with USAir, Henson operated as a USAir Express and later US Airways Express carrier, but was renamed “Piedmont Airlines” four years later to retain its original identity. American Airlines, which purchased US Airways in 2013 and rebranded it American Eagle, maintained the philosophy.

Today, Piedmont/American Eagle operates three daily ERJ-145 frequencies, departing Islip at 0710, 1035, and 1858 to Philadelphia, one of USAir/US Airways’ former hubs. Return flights arrive on Long Island soil at 1007, 1833, and 2221.

Both ASA Atlantic Southeast Airlines and Comair operated the larger CRJ-700 into Islip.

The result of Bombardier’s first attempt to offer a higher capacity version in order to more effectively compete with the Fokker F.70 and the Avro International RJ70, both 70-seaters, it officially launched the program in January of 1997. Based upon the original CRJ-200, it introduced a slightly wider fuselage with a 106.8-foot overall length; a larger wing, with a 76.3-foot span and 760-square-foot area; leading edge slats to increase low-speed lift and reduce takeoff runs; 13,790 thrust-pound CF34-8C5B1 turbofans; a lower floor for increased cabin headroom; raised passenger windows; a single-class capacity of 78; and 18,055- and 75,000-pound maximum payloads and gross weight weights.

First flying on May 27, 1999, it entered service with Brit Air two years later, retaining the same type rating as that of its smaller capacity predecessors.

Its extended range CRJ-700ER had a 1,504-nautical mile capability and a 448-knot/515-mph/Mach 0.78 cruise speed.

Regional Jet Snapshots in Time:

Because of demand, the need to adjust capacity, scheduling, and, in some cases, replace one aircraft type with another, any attempt to discuss Long Island MacArthur Airport’s regional jet operations can only be done as snapshots in time.

During the latter portion of 1988, for instance, which can be considered its early regional jet period, Presidential Airways operated its BAe-146-200s to Washington-Dulles, while Piedmont “right-sized” its aircraft to maintain frequency, sandwiching the 65-passenger noon F.28-1000 between morning and evening 737-300s and mid-morning and mid-afternoon Henson DHC-8-100s.

1998, which can be considered the dawn of the next-generation regional jet era, saw Long Island connected to Delta’s Atlanta and Cincinnati hubs and Continental’s Cleveland one with 50-seat CRJ-100s, CRJ-200s, and ERJ-145s, respectively operated by Comair, ASA, and ExpressJet.

The number of daily departures included three Comair/Delta Connection CRJ-100s to Cincinnati, two American Eagle ERJ-145s to Chicago, two and later three ExpressJet/Continental Express ERJ-145s to Cleveland, and three ASA/Delta Connection CRJ-200s to Atlanta.

During its first month of regional jet operations, the latter airline carried 6,980 passengers, making it the airport’s third-largest tenant in terms of boardings.

By December of 1999, eight of the 37 daily pure-jet flights, or 19 percent, were conducted with the new breed of Canadair and Embraer regional jets. By March of 2000, the monthly regional jet passenger total was 16,210-that is, 6,107 carried by ASA, 6,831 by Comair, and 3,212 carried by ExpressJet.

In August of 2002, American Eagle replaced its four Saab 340 flights to Boston with ERJ-135s, providing American Airlines hub feed, and by the fall ASA and Comair upgraded two or their three Atlanta and Cincinnati frequencies to larger capacity CRJ-700s.

Last Regional Jet Service Inauguration:

The latest carrier to enter the Long Island market with the regional jet was Elite Airways.

Founded, as reflected by its name, to offer a quality travel experience in 2016, it entered the arena as a US Part 121 air carrier, transporting sports teams and executives on both scheduled and charter services on northeast-to-Florida routes with one CRJ-100, five CRJ-200s, and five CRJ-700s.

Limited, twice-weekly CRJ-700 services, from Islip to Portland, Maine; Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; and Melbourne, Florida, were inaugurated on June 17, 2016. But lower than expected load factors prompted it to twice pause, between January 15 and February 16, 2017 and April and July of that year, to reconsider its strategy.

While the second suspension turned into an unanticipated 16-month one, it finally reappeared on the scene on September 6, 2018, this time routing a Thursday and Sunday CRJ-200 to Melbourne. Designated Flight 7Q 21, it departed at 0800 and arrived in the sunshine state at 1045. After a 45-minute turnaround, it redeparted at 1130 for Bimini, Bahamas, becoming Islip’s first one-stop link to it.

“The route is designed so that passengers from Islip can book a flight to Melbourne only or stay on board with connecting service to Bimini,” according to Rebecca Emery, an Elite Airways public relations executive. “It is the closest Bahamian island to the US with miles of seclude beaches, four-star hotels, and the Resorts World Bimini Casino and Marina.”

The return flight, 7Q 23, departed Bimini at 1330, but required US Customs and Border Patrol preclearance. Landing in Melbourne an hour later, it next operated as 7Q 24, taking off at 1600 and touching down at MacArthur at 2045.

Low load factors once again caused its discontinuation, leaving Piedmont/American Eagle’s ERJ-145s to Philadelphia as Islip’s only remaining regional jet operations at the dawn of 2020.

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The History of Austrian Airlines at JFK

1. Return to JFK:

Two decades after Austrian Airlines launched its original, but unsuccessful transatlantic service to New York–a joint operation with Sabena Belgian World Airways inaugurated on April 1, 1969 with a Boeing 707-320 registered OE-LBA that made an intermediate stop in Brussels-it returned to the US on March 26, 1989, this time with an Airbus A-310-300 sporting registration OE-LAA. The occasion not only introduced intercontinental service to its route system, but a widebody aircraft with its first three-class cabin configuration to its fleet. Unlike the previous attempt, this one proved successful, but signaled the beginning of another two decades of elasticity, paved with numerous aircraft types, airline alliances and strategies, terminals, handling companies, and computer systems. This is its story.

2. JFK Station Evolution:

Initial training, held at Austrian Airlines’ North American headquarters in Whitestone, New York, and taught by Peter “Luigi” Huebner, commenced on February 6, 1989, or six weeks before the inaugural flight, and its curriculum included “Passenger Handling I” and “Adios Check-In” courses.

Austrian Airlines’ first JFK location, the East Wing of the no-longer-existent International Arrivals Building, was a shared facility with Icelandair and encompassed five Austrian-specific check-in counters equipped with computers, automated boarding pass printers, and laser-scannable baggage tag printers, and the jointly-used, upper level Icelandair Saga Lounge.

Entirely employed and trained by Austrian and outfitted in its uniform, its staff performed all ground operations functions: Passenger Service, Ticket Sales-Reservations, Lost-and-Found, Load Control, Administration, Supervision, and Management, while Icelandair personnel served on the ramp, overseeing aircraft servicing and baggage, cargo, and mail loading.

However, the success of the operation relied upon the equipment that serviced it and it was only Airbus Industrie’s decision to offer a shorter-fuselage, lower-capacity version of its signature A-300 that made the reinstated transatlantic operation possible with the A-310.

This long-range, twin-engine, widebody design, of concurrent technology, offered the same range and dual-aisle comfort as the comparable quad-engine 747 or the tri-engine DC-10 and L-1011, yet at the same time offered reduced capacity to facilitate profitable, year-round operations. Because of Austrian’s market size, the larger 747, DC-10, or L-1011 would otherwise have operated at a loss outside of the peak summer travel season. Any of the other then long-range aircraft, inclusive of the Boeing 707 and the McDonnell-Douglas DC-8, featured older-generation, fuel-thirsty, four-engine Stage 1 technology of the early-1960s and would have been banned from US service unless they had been hush-kited or altogether engine-retrofitted. The very A-310 made Austrian Airlines’ long, thin Vienna-New York route sector possible.

The initial 1989 timetable offered six weekly frequencies during the summer and five in the winter, at which time two A-310-300s served New York and Tokyo, the latter with an intermediate stop in Moscow. Alternatively, they also augmented the longer-range routes, such as those to Tel Aviv, Istanbul, and Teheran.

During the first six months of JFK operations, an aircraft never experienced an excessive delay because of scheduling, resulting in exemplary on-time performance.

In-flight service naturally represented a large portion of an airline’s expenditure. As a result, many carriers began to reduce this in order to decrease costs. Austrian Airlines, however, remained unique in a world aloft characterized by snacks and paper cups by providing printed menus, amenity kits, china service, complimentary alcoholic beverages, and earphones in the coach cabins of its transatlantic flights to and from Vienna.

Because of the A-310’s short fuselage, however, lower-deck cargo space was limited, with the forward hold usually accommodating baggage unit load devices (ULDs) and the aft the cargo itself, which was often restricted to two pallets and a single AKE unit.

Although load factors on the New York-Vienna sector were initially low, they steadily increased until most of the flights were full. Large tour groups constituted an increasing portion of the passenger mix, along with the anticipated connecting passengers, who were able to take advantage of the expanding Vienna hub. It was the ultimate testament to a carrier when a passenger chose to fly with it and make a connection at its home airport as opposed to traveling nonstop with a national carrier.

As a “second attempt” across the Atlantic, Austrian Airline’s intercontinental A-310 service to New York was ultimately successful.

With the acquisition of its third A-310-300, registered OE-LAC, Austrian Airlines contemplated service to a second US gateway by the spring of 1991, such as to Los Angeles, but the A-310-300’s 11-hour flight duration precluded this reality. Although Chicago was alternatively considered, American’s own nonstop Boeing 767-200ER service to Vienna would have resulted in prohibitive competition, since O’Hare was its second-largest hub, leaving Washington-Dulles as the only viable alternative.

For the European continental network, a higher gross weight McDonnell-Douglas MD-83 was ordered for delivery in 1991 and several existing MD-81s were converted to this standard, increasing their range and payload capabilities. Two additional Fokker F.50s were also ordered for domestic and long, thin international routes.

During the five-year period from 1989 to 1994, Austrian Airlines independently operated at JFK, offering as few as four weekly departures during the winter and as many as seven during the summer.

3. Delta Air Lines Code Share:

Changing market conditions prompted a modified strategy at JFK for Austrian. Seeking to align itself with a US domestic carrier in order to obtain feed for its transatlantic flights, for example, it concluded a marketing agreement with Delta Air Lines in 1994, in which it placed its two-letter “OS” code on Delta-operated flights, while Delta itself reciprocally placed its own “DL” designator on Austrian’s services. Two Delta flight attendants, wearing their company’s uniforms, initially also served in the cabins of its A-310s to and from Vienna.

Although the concept’s financial benefit was slow to materialize, the aircraft ultimately achieved high load factors, carrying both Austrian and Delta passengers from some two dozen US cities through New York to Vienna, often with beyond-travel.

In order to reduce ground-handling costs and attain synergistic, inter-carrier benefits, Austrian Airlines relocated its operation to Delta Terminal 1A (later redesignated Terminal 2) on July 1, 1994, retaining only nine of its original 21 staff members. Delta Air Lines, the newly-designated ground-handling carrier, assumed arrivals, lost-and-found, passenger check-in, departure gate, ramp, and baggage room responsibilities, while Austrian itself continued to perform its own ticketing, load control, administration, supervision, and management functions.

1994 also marked the acquisition of two long-range, quad-engine A-340-200s configured for 36 business and 227 economy class passengers and registered OE-LAG and OE-LAH. They periodically served New York throughout the next decade.

Yet another change occurred three years later, between February of 1997 and 1998, when it relocated its check-in counters and operational office to Delta Terminal 3, but otherwise remained in the same marketing alliance.

The year also marked the first time that the transatlantic route to New York had sufficiently matured to support a second departure on selected days during the summer timetable, with this additional flight arriving at 2045 and redeparting at 2205. Usually operated by aircraft OE-LAC, an A-310 with a reduced business, but higher-capacity economy section, it facilitated connections with the midday bank of departures from Vienna.

4. Atlantic Excellence:

Once again yielding to airline deregulation-necessitated realignment and attempting to achieve additional cost-reducing synergies, Austrian Airlines integrated its JFK operations with Sabena Belgian World Airways and Swissair on March 1, 1998, forming the tri-carrier Atlantic Excellence Alliance. Although the employees of all three airlines continued to wear their respective uniforms, they operated from single passenger service and load control offices, utilizing a joint Austrian, Sabena, and Swissair check-in facility, and handled each other’s flights.

During the peak summer season, seven daily departures operated by four airlines were offered, inclusive of two to Vienna with Austrian Airlines, two to Brussels with Delta and Sabena, one to Geneva with Swissair, and two to Zurich, also with Swissair.

Eight functions were performed at the Atlantic Excellence station, including Control, Arrivals, Departures, VIP/Special Services, Ticket Sales-Reservations, Load Control, Ramp Supervision, and Trouble Shooting. Because Swissair was contracted to prepare load sheets for Malev-Hungarian Airlines’ flights to Budapest, the Load Control function itself entailed handling six aircraft types-747-300s, A-340-200/-300s, MD-11s, A-330-200s, 767-200ERs, and A-310-300s-often requiring inter-carrier training courses.

As had singularly occurred with Austrian Airlines, Delta equally concluded reciprocal two-letter code-share agreements with Sabena and Swissair, but now took the former marketing arrangement to full alliance status at Delta’s significantly-maturing JFK flight hub. Delta nevertheless continued to provide ramp and baggage room functions for all three Atlantic Excellence airlines.

In August of that year, Austrian Airlines took delivery of the first of four longer-range, higher-capacity A-330-200s, registered OE-LAM and configured for 30 business and 235 economy class passengers, and the type ultimately replaced the A-310-300 as its intercontinental workhorse. The four aircraft, later operating with a reduced, 24-seat business cabin when the Grand Class concept was introduced, sported registrations OE-LAM, OE-LAN, OE-LAO, and OE-LAP.

During the summer timetable of 1998, Austrian fielded its first dual-aircraft type operation from JFK, with the first departure standardly operated by the A-330 and the second by the A-310.

5. Star Alliance:

Although an ultimate “Swissport Solution,” under which all Atlantic Excellence ground operations staff would have been transferred to the service provider, was envisioned, the eventuality never occurred.

Rumors, rumbling through the station like the gentle forewarnings of a pending storm, pervaded the atmosphere by mid-1999. A new strategy seemed to loom on the horizon and its seeds, planted long before it bloomed, were multi-faceted and omni-encompassing.

In June of 1999, Delta Air Lines and Air France had formed the fundamental basis of a new global alliance, which was later named SkyTeam, thus dissolving the 25-month Austrian/Delta/Sabena/Swissair Atlantic Excellence Alliance whose agreement, without renegotiation, would have expired in August of 2000.

Despite a ten-percent investment limitation, Swissair had nevertheless attempted to purchase additional Austrian Airlines stock, precluding Austrian’s goal of retaining its own identity and independence, and forcing it to withdraw from the Swissair-led Qualiflyer Alliance of European carriers.

Swissair and Sabena formed a combined commercial management structure, which again proved counter to Austrian Airlines’ independent direction.

Finally, in early 2000, both Sabena and Swissair concluded code-share agreements with American Airlines, a US airline-alignment that was counter to Austrian Airlines’ strategy of US feed.

As a small, but profitable international carrier of considerable quality, Austrian Airlines nevertheless needed the reach of a global alliance to remain profitable and thus concluded a membership agreement with the Lufthansa- and United-led Star Alliance, which became effective on March 26, 2000.

The largest and longest-running alliance, it was then comprised of Air Canada, Air New Zealand, All Nippon, Ansett Australia, Austrian Airlines, British Midland, Lauda Air, Lufthansa, Mexicana, SAS, Thai Airways International, Tyrolean, United, and Varig, and collectively carried 23-percent of the world’s passenger traffic. But, more importantly, the decision facilitated continued independent identity and operation, yet had the potential for expansion. Expressed as a sentiment, the decision was stated as, “Here we grow again!”

The transition from the Atlantic Excellence to the Star Alliance, commencing as early as January of 2000, entailed four integral changes.

1). An entirely new IT (information technology) system and frequent flier program.

2). The operational relocation to a new terminal, passenger service office, passenger check-in counter, load control-aircraft dispatch center, and gate at JFK.

3) New alliance airline code-share flights and traffic feed resulted in the closing of the Atlanta station and the subsequent opening of the Chicago one and the reopening of the Washington one in the US.

4). The company-wide migration training in Oberlaa, Austria, location of Austrian Airlines’ head office.

Star Alliance membership, once again entailing a relocation to Terminal One at JFK, prompted another handling carrier change, this time from Delta to Lufthansa, which now performed the Baggage Services and Passenger Check-In functions, while Austrian itself continued to act in the capacities of Arrivals, Ticketing, Load Control, Ramp Supervision, and Management. Under a reciprocal agreement, it also provided these passenger services to Lufthansa for its own Frankfurt departures during non-operational hours. Aircraft loading and baggage room functions were initially performed by Hudson General, which was later renamed GlobeGround North America.

In a further cost-reduction strategy, Austrian Airlines relocated to a smaller, reduced-cost Passenger Service office on the ground floor of Terminal One in September of 2002, at which time the Load Control/Ramp Supervision function was awarded to Lufthansa. No longer serving Lufthansa’s flights, Austrian staff members further dwindled, now to six full-time and two part-time positions, and the daily shift hours decreased from nine to eight.

Austrian’s largest-capacity aircraft, the A-340-300–which accommodated 30 business and 261 economy class passengers–intermittently also provided service to JFK, particularly during the summer 2002 timetable when a late Saturday departure was scheduled. Two such aircraft, registered OE-LAK and OE-LAL, now made up part of the fleet.

6. Swissport USA:

The continual need to reduce costs resulted in yet another handling-company change at JFK on January 1, 2003, when most of the ground services were transferred from Lufthansa to Swissport USA.

In preparation for the change, the Swissport passenger service staff attended the Guide Check-In course in Vienna the previous month, while one Swissport agent, who structured the Baggage Services department, attended the World Tracer Basic course later in the year, in October.

Outfitted in Austrian Airlines uniforms, Swissport staff performed the Arrivals, Lost-and-Found, Passenger Check-In, Departure Gate, Load Control, and Ramp Supervision functions, while Austrian itself continued to assume Ticket Sales, Administration, Supervision, and Management responsibilities.

Load control, which was initially performed in Terminal 4 using the Swissair DCS system, was ultimately transferred to Terminal One and the Lufthansa-WAB system after the Swissport operations personnel completed a computerized load control course in Vienna that March.

7. North American Station Training Program:

Because most of the Swissport agents had little previous airline experience and were consequently unfamiliar with Austrian Airlines’ products and procedures, the author created a local training program by drafting the course descriptions, writing the textbooks, devising the quizzes and exams, teaching the courses themselves, and subsequently issuing the training certificates in order to more adequately prepare them to perform their jobs.

The program, tracing its routes to the Austrian Airlines Passenger Handling Course created in 1989 and the introductory Load Control training material written in 1998, evolved into the full-fledged North American Station Training Program, whose content, updated in accordance with aircraft, system, procedure, and alliance change, included the four integral curriculums of “Initial Passenger Service,” “Ramp Supervision Certification,” “Load Control Licensing,” and “Airline Management.”

Ultimately encompassing 27 Passenger Service, Ramp Supervision, Load Control, Air Cargo, and Airline Station Management procedural and training manuals, two station histories, and 28 curriculums, it resulted in 63 courses having been taught to Austrian Airlines and Austrian Airlines-handling carriers Delta, Lufthansa, Passenger Handling Services/Maca, SAS, Servair, and Swissport at the eight North American stations of Atlanta, Cancun, Chicago, Montreal, New York, Punta Cana, Toronto, and Washington.

The program, which quickly evolved into the equivalent of an “airline university” and was often cited as the reason why Swissport staff were eager to transfer to the Austrian Airlines account, proved instrumental in their career paths, facilitating their promotions or acceptances by other airlines.

8. Boeing and Lauda Air to JFK:

JFK, hitherto exclusively served by Austrian Airlines and its fleet of A-310, A-330, and A-340 Airbus widebody aircraft, received its first regularly scheduled Lauda Air 767 operation during the summer of 2004, a carrier founded by Formula I race car driver Niki Lauda and considered Austrian Airlines’ competitor during the early part of its history. But by the following year its frequency quadrupled and during 2007 it altogether replaced the 17-year Airbus service.

The summer 2004 Lauda 767 flight, which operated as an addition to the daily Austrian frequency during the 11-week period from June 26 to September 5, was scheduled to arrive at 2055 on Saturday evenings and departed some 25 hours later at 2200 on Sunday.

In order to prepare the station for the additional service, local Boeing 767 Passenger Service and Boeing 767 Load Control courses were created and taught to Swissport staff.

Because the Lufthansa technical employees did not hold 767 licenses, its maintenance was contracted to Delta Air Lines, which operated all three -200, -300, and -400 series 767s, and an extensive night stop and security procedure was performed before aircraft push-back to the Terminal One hardstand, at which time security seals were applied to all access doors. Off-loaded galley equipment was washed and prepared for the following evening.

Because of the aircraft’s then 36-passenger Amadeus Class capacity, the late departure was difficult to sell in the business cabin without considerable marketing promotion and fare reduction, while cargo-pallet loading was door-dimensionally restricted to four positions in the forward compartment. The aircraft themselves operated in a combination of Lauda Air and Star Alliance liveries.

During the summer 2005 timetable, from June 14 to September 2, the 767-300 provided up to four additional weekly frequencies, resulting in a total of 11, with the A-330 standardly operating the early departure and the 767-300 the late one.

By 2007, the type altogether replaced the A-330 and A-340 fleets, but appeared with several configurations. Aircraft OE-LAE, -LAY, and -LAZ, for example, accommodated 36 in business and 189 in economy, while those registered OE-LAX and -LAW respectively featured 30 and 200 seats. Aircraft OE-LAT, which offered the highest capacity of the six, included ten more seats than these latter two, for a 240-passenger coach complement.

9. Centralized Load Control:

In late-2006, a concept known as the “Centralized Load Control” (CLC) System was introduced at JFK, and the station, like the nucleus of an atom, became the core of it all.

Brainchild of Michael Steinbuegl, then-JFK Station Manager, the procedure, following trends set by Swiss International in New York, Lufthansa in Cape Town, and SAS in Bangkok, had its origins in an earlier investigative project in which he explored cost reductions by means of a large, single Centralized Load Control department in Vienna or several regional ones. The latter, however, entailed language and time zone obstacles.

Having himself amassed considerable experience creating operational procedures and methods as former Aircraft Handling Manager, he was well versed with weight and balance issues.

Seeking to apply this knowledge and simultaneously attempting to rectify the system incompatibility and communication difficulties encountered with the SAS-Bangkok arrangement in Washington, he tackled this station first, which, like JFK, already used the Lufthansa-WAB system. In the process, he set the course for the many transitions to come by making several duty trips to establish local station-compatible procedures and then drafting a detailed booklet concerning them. The first centralized load sheet for the Washington flight, OS 094, was generated on November 1, 2006.

Charlie Schreiner, then head of Austrian Airlines Load Control, subsequently marked the occasion by sending the following telex.

“With Austrian Airlines Flight OS 094 on November 1,” he wrote, “our first line station had been connected to a regular Centralized Load Control process with ULD aircraft. All activities toward the operational flight preparation, load planning, ULD coordination, and WAB System documentation, inclusive of the load sheet transmitted to the cockpit via ACARs, had been successfully controlled by our JFK station yesterday.”

The remainder of the CLC program, however, involved phased implementation. In May of the following year, service was reinaugurated from Chicago. Because this could now be considered a “new” station, it logically followed that its load sheet would be integrated into the CLC system from the start and, despite computer system differences, was successfully adapted with the first flight on May 29 after procedural modifications.

With these cities being handled by JFK, it was decided to integrate the last North American station, Toronto, whose first centralized load sheet was issued on July 1.

Three Austrian Airlines-dedicated Load Controllers from Swissport, two of whom worked on a given day during the peak summer season, formed the Centralized Load Control System team.

Since the fourth station was integrated, JFK produced some 120 load sheets per month, and the highly successful system yielded numerous benefits.

First and foremost, it produced considerable savings. All flights departed on time relative to their load plan and load sheet preparations and all four North American flights were operationally handled by only one more daily Load Controller than JFK had employed for a single departure. All loading instruction reports and load sheets were additionally generated by the Lufthansa-WAB system, giving Vienna immediate access to all load control-related data and documentation.

10. Boeing 777:

When Austrian Airlines turned the page of its winter 2008-2009 timetable on March 29, JFK fielded its first Boeing 777-200ER operation, the carrier’s largest capacity aircraft and the fifth basic type to have served New York after the A-310, the A-330, the A-340, and the 767.

The airplane, having originally been acquired by Lauda Air, was configured for 49 business class and 258 coach passengers, although two later examples, which featured higher gross weights and modified passenger arrangements, accommodated 260 economy class passengers in ten-abreast, three-four-three, configurations.

During the six-month period between April and September of 2009, the single flight carried 34 percent more arriving and departing passengers, along with significantly increased complements of cargo and mail, than the comparable year-earlier period, when the 767 was used. The four 777s in the fleet were registered OE-LPA, OE-LPB, OE-LPC, and OE-LPD.

11. Lufthansa Acquisition:

2009 was a pivotal year for Austrian Airlines, both locally and systemwide. Because of the global economic downturn, escalating fuel prices, eroding yields, and strong competition within Western Europe from low cost carriers, its financial viability and continued existence as a company were threatened, despite previous strategies that included selling its A-330 and A-340 fleet, reducing its long-range route system, and implementing several restructuring plans. Its savior, in the form of an agreement with Lufthansa-German Airlines, enabled it to continue operating, as it assumed its debt and acquired the majority of its shares.

On August 28, the European Commission officially approved Lufthansa-German Airlines’ acquisition of the Austrian Airlines Group. Comprised of the 500 million euros from the stated holding company needed for restructuring and the merger between the two carriers, the strategy paved the way for Austrian’s integration into the Lufthansa fold by September. In order to achieve the required antitrust immunity, however, Lufthansa itself had to agree to relinquish key flight slots and reduce the number of services between Vienna and Brussels, Cologne, Frankfurt, Munich, and Stuttgart.

For Austrian Airlines, which would become one of Lufthansa’s several independent, European hub carriers, it signaled financial survival, an improved economic foundation, cost synergies, such as joint fuel and aircraft purchasing, and access to Lufthansa’s extensive international sales and route network. The establishment of Vienna as a high-performance hub for traffic feed to its new owner’s dense Central and Eastern European route system was considered Austrian’s strength within the system.

As a result of this ownership, numerous, fundamental North American changes also occurred.

In Toronto and Washington, for example, Lufthansa assumed all ground-handling aspects.

In New York, more than half of the staff employed at its North American headquarters in Whitestone were laid off, while its facility, located on the fifth floor of Octagon Plaza and considered its “fortress” for almost a quarter of a century, was closed, with its remaining employees relocating to Lufthansa’s East Meadow, Long Island, office.

At JFK itself, Austrian Airlines Cargo equally relocated to the Lufthansa facility on November 1, and 16 days later Swissport passed the ground-handling torch to Lufthansa-German Airlines.

Michael Steinbuegl, Manager of that station for four years, was promoted to Key Account Manager, North America, but four Ticket Sales-Reservation positions were rendered redundant when Lufthansa assumed those functions, reducing the Austrian Airlines’ staff to just two members, (the author included), who received limited, six-month contracts that expired on May 15, 2010. Intermittently integrated into the Lufthansa operation and schedule, they handled their flights, while familiarizing Lufthansa employees with their own procedures, but after this transition period, were equally released from employment.

The last Austrian Airlines “red uniform presence,” whether having been represented by purely Austrian Airlines or Swissport staff, occurred on November 15, and the first floor office in Terminal One, hitherto “home” for the carrier’s Management, Passenger Service, Centralized Load Control, Ticket Sales-Reservations, and Baggage Services/Lost and Found Departments, was relinquished for three desks in the Lufthansa facility, two of which were Duty Manager stations located on the main level and one of which was reserved for the Key Account Manager position on the lower level in the Station Operations office.

All things seem to come fully cycle. The event, effectively ending 21 years of autonomous Austrian Airlines presence, marked the carrier’s return to its 1938 integration with Lufthansa and its 2000 ground-handling arrangement at JFK.

12. JFK Station Strengths:

In 2009, Austrian Airlines operated 666 arriving and departing flights at JFK and carried 158,267 in- and outbound passengers, an 18.42-percent increase over the year-earlier figure, while it operated 5,005 arriving and departing flights and carried 1,074,642 passengers during the seven-year period, between 2003 and 2009, that Swissport USA assumed its ground-handling there.

JFK, having weathered several airline alliances, terminal locations, computer systems, handling companies, aircraft types, and an ever-decreasing number of Austrian Airlines personnel over its 21-year presence, effectively closed its doors, the last of its North American stations to have done so.

Throughout its more than two-decade presence, it had handled five aircraft types–the Airbus A-310, the Airbus A-330, the Airbus A-340, the Boeing 767, and the Boeing 777; had assumed four strategies–its initial, independent operation; the Delta Air Lines code share agreement; the tri-carrier Atlantic Excellence station; and the Star Alliance integration; had operated from four JFK terminals–Terminal One, Terminal Two, Terminal Three, and the International Arrivals Building; had been handled by three companies–Delta Air Lines, Lufthansa-German Airlines, and Swissport USA; and had used two computer systems.

Because the talents and abilities of many of its staff were channeled to produce creative and innovative results during the last chapter of its existence, JFK had notched up several achievements, some of which enabled it to play an increasingly nucleic role within North America. They can be subdivided as follows.

The North American Station Training Program, comprised of the Passenger Service, Ramp Supervision Certification, Load Control Licensing, and Management disciplines, was instrumental in the educational preparation of all entry-level employees, enabling them to perform their designated functions with sufficient procedural knowledge or climb the ladder all the way to management, if so needed. The textbooks and courses were subsequently used to duplicate this success at Austrian Airlines’ other North American stations.

The Centralized Load Control (CLC) Department, entailing the preparation of loading instruction/reports and load sheets for the four North American stations of Chicago, New York, Toronto, and Washington, was highly successful and once involved four aircraft types: the Boeing 767, the Airbus A-330, the Airbus A-340, and the Boeing 777.

The Baggage Services/Lost and Found Department, under the direction of Omar Alli, served as a model for other stations and earned a lost baggage rating that became the envy of them. Omar himself often traveled to other stations in order to provide restructuring guidance for their own Baggage Services Departments.

The Ticket Sales-Reservations counter, under the direction of Sidonie Shields, consistently collected significant amounts of annual revenue in ticket sales, excess baggage, and other fees.

The visible presence of Austrian Airlines, in red uniforms, to the passenger, whether worn by Austrian Airlines or Swissport staff, cemented its identity.

The several annual special flights, which sometimes posed significant challenges, but were always successfully executed, included those carrying the Rabbi Twersky group, the American Music Abroad group, the IMTX group, the Vienna Boys’ Choir, the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, and Life Ball, the latter with its high-profile celebrities, colorful characters, and pre-departure parties.

The special events, often fostering a “family” atmosphere among its own and Swissport staff, included the annual “Year in Review” series, the Pocono Mountain ski trips, the summer pool parties, the birthdays, the Thanksgiving dinners, and the Secret Santas at Christmas.

And, finally, the daily briefings, jokes, laughs, raps, camaraderie, friendships, and human connections continually emphasized and acknowledged the true souls behind everyone as they cohesively worked toward the airline’s and the station’s common goals.

Michael Steinbuegl, who assumed command as JFK Station Manager in September of 2005, had cultivated the environment and orchestrated the steps that had allowed every one of these accomplishments to be made.

13. Two Decades of Elasticity:

Austrian Airlines, hitherto among the smallest European airlines, had to assume a considerable degree of necessary “elasticity” during its 21 years at JFK, ebbing and flowing with the ever-changing turbulence created by prevailing market conditions, seeking financial benefit, synergistic strength, market niche, alliance realignment, and ultimate change of ownership. Defying Darwinian philosophy, whose “survival of the fittest” prediction is often translated as “survival of the largest,” Austrian Airlines had, despite numerous, necessary redirections, proven the contrary, perhaps prompting a rewording of the philosophy to read, “survival of the smallest,” if four short words were added-namely, “as a global player.”

Toward this end, the latest strategy enabled the carrier to survive. For station JFK and its staff, however, it did not.

Epilogue:

Because I had been hired by Austrian Airlines two months before its inaugural transatlantic flight from JFK occurred on March 26, 1989 and subsequently held several positions there throughout its 21-year history, I felt singularly qualified, as a lifetime aviation researcher, historian, and writer, to preserve its story in words. It is, in essence, my story. It is what I lived. And what I leave…

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United Airlines Are Dominating the Skies

United Airlines is a wholly owned subsidiary of United Continental Holdings. Based out of Chicago- Illinois, United Airlines booking commenced its booking with the existence of United Airlines after a merger between United and Continental Airlines in 2010.

In Flight Services

UA aircraft cabins have been designed to provide extra legroom for the comfort of its passengers. The airline offers complimentary juices, tea, coffee and soft drinks to its passengers. Alcoholic drinks, meals and snacks are available on board and can be purchased by passengers.

United Airlines in-flight entertainment system offers a choice of several audio programs, TV channels and movies; complimentary headsets are offered to the passengers. Customers on board can also shop for duty free items that are on sale by the airline. Wi-Fi is also available for use on some of the operator’s aircraft.

Check in Options

The airline permits check-in 24 hours before the scheduled departure time. Opting for online check-in helps one save a lot of time and hassle of last minute check- in at airports. One can do an online check in from the comfort of their home and also print their own boarding pass. Customers also have the choice of getting their boarding pass link being e-mailed to their mobile phones; the barcode on this link needs to be displayed by the passengers to get through the security checkpoint and also at the time of boarding the flight. One must however note that passengers travelling with paper tickets reservations cannot make an online check-in.

Baggage Policy

The airline allows one carryon bag and another small personal bag; passengers however need to ensure that these luggage items adhere to the size restrictions specified by the airline and also that their carryon luggage easily fits into the overhead bin. Pet carriers are allowed in the aircraft cabin subject to size restrictions and an additional charge. The checked baggage allowance varies; depending upon the class of service opted by the passenger. The airline does not provide any insurance for passenger’s baggage. In case of any missing or lost baggage customers are required to fill in a detailed form and submit the same to the airline staff.

Furthermore, United is a member of the Star Alliance that beholds many members including Ethiopian Airlines, Lufthansa, Scandinavian and Turkish. Be it United flight booking, Lufthansa or Turkish airline ticket booking, we are always ready with cheap flights fare or low cost airline tickets for everyone between any desired destinations served by United.

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The Commuter Airlines of Long Island MacArthur Airport

Introduction:

Although commuter airline operations, conducted by a variety of almost-exclusively turboprop aircraft that accommodated between 19 and 50 passengers,augmented Long Island MacArthur Airport’s six-and-a-half decade scheduled service history, they were integral to its development as a regional airfield, providing both origin-and-destination and connecting, major-carrier aligned, two-letter code share links to many northeast cities with equipment optimized for sector length, demand, capacity, frequency, and cost.

These services can be subdivided into “Initial Service,” “Area-Airport Shuttles,” “Northeast Commuter Service,” “Code-Share Hub Feed,” and “Last Commuter Carrier Operation” categories.

Initial Service:

Initial, scheduled service, inaugurated shortly after the airport’s 5,000-square-foot, rectangular-shaped terminal was completed, entailed a tri-city route system, connecting Long Island with Boston, Newark, and Washington, and operated in 1959 by Gateway Airlines with de Havilland DH.104 Dove and DH.114 Heron aircraft.

The former, a conventional low-wing monoplane with a 57-foot span and two de Havilland Gipsy Queen 70 Mk 3 six-cylinder, air-cooled, in-line piston engines rated at 400 hp, was designed to meet the Brabazon Committee’s Type VB specifications for a post-war mini- or commuter-airliners, but nevertheless incorporated several “large aircraft” advancements, including all-metal Redux bonding construction, geared and supercharged powerplants, braking propellers, power operated trailing edge flaps, and a tricycle undercarriage configuration.

Resembling it, its DH.114 Heron successor, seating between 14 and 17 in an 8.6-foot longer cabin, was powered by four 250-hp Gipsy Queen 30 Mk 2 piston engines and had a 13,500-pound gross weight, whose lift was facilitated by a 71.6-foot wingspan. It first flew in prototype form on May 10, 1950.

Inauspicious and short-lived, the Gateway Airlines flights, only lasting eight months, nevertheless served as the aerial threshold to Long Island MacArthur’s future northeast commuter operations.

Area-Airport Shuttles:

While Gateway’s Newark service paved the way to other, similar area-airport shuttles, it demonstrated that if Long Island MacArthur could not offer further-afield service on its own, it could provide quick-hop connections to other, more established New York airports that could.

One such attempt, although a little longer in duration, occurred between 1979 and 1980 with Nitlyn Airways, whose Piper PA-31-350 Navajo Chieftains tried to feed TWA’s flights at JFK.

Intended as a successor to the company’s PA-23-250 twin piston private and executive Aztec, the Navajo had a 34.6-foot length and 40.8-foot span. Powered by two 425-hp Lycoming TIGO-541-E1A six-cylinder, horizontally opposed engines, it had a 7,800-pound gross weight and 1,285-mile range, and could be configured with various standard, commuter, and business seating arrangements for up to eight, who boarded by means of an aft, left air stair door.

Much later in MacArthur’s history, another carrier, enjoying greater longevity and success, linked the Long Island airfield with Newark International Airport. In this case, the airline was Brit, which operated under a Continental Express code-share agreement for the purpose of feeding Continental’s mainline flights and the equipment encompassed the very modern ATR-42-300.

This design, which has yet to be usurped by a more advanced turboprop in 2020, remains one of the two premier regional airliners.

Following the latest intra-European cooperation trend, the French Aerospatiale and Italian Aeritalia aerospace firms elected to collaborate on a regional airliner that combined design elements of their respective, once-independent AS-35 and AIT-230 proposals.

Redesignated ATR-42-the letters representing the French “Avions de Transport Regional” and “Aerei di Trasporto Regionale” and the number reflecting the average seating capacity-the high-wing, twin-turboprop, not-quite-t-tail with its main undercarriage bogies retracting into fuselage underside blisters, was powered by two 1,800-shp Pratt and Whitney Canada PW120 engines when it first flew as the ATR-42-200 on August 16, 1984. The production version, the ATR-42-300, featured uprated, 2,000-shp powerplants.

Of modern airliner design, it accommodated up to 49 four-abreast passengers with a central aisle, overhead storage compartments, a flat ceiling, a galley, and a lavatory.

Granted its French and Italian airworthiness certificate in September of 1985 after final assembly in Toulouse, France, it entered scheduled service four months later on December 9 with Air Littoral. With a 37,300-pound maximum takeoff weight, it had a 265-knot maximum speed at a 25,000-foot service ceiling.

Northeast Commuter Service:

Although Gateway Airlines was the first to provide northeast commuter service from the then-fledgling airport in Islip, many carriers followed in the ensuing decades-this time from the new oval passenger terminal that replaced the original rectangular one.

One of the early ones was Pilgrim Airlines, which operated two nonstops to Albany, one to Groton/New London, two to New Haven, and a single frequency to Washington-National, principally with de Havilland of Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter aircraft.

Incorporating the rugged simplicity of its predecessor, the single-engine DHC-3 Otter, designed for remote, unprepared field operations often in the bush, it retained its basic high wing configuration and many of its wing and fuselage components, but introduced double the number of powerplants. Featuring a greater, 51.9-foot overall length to facilitate the installation of up to 20 seats divided by an aisle, a 65-foot span with double-slotted trailing edge flaps, and a redesigned nose and tail, it still employed the Otter’s fixed, tricycle undercarriage and short takeoff and landing (STOL) capability.

Powered by two 652-shp Pratt and Whitney Canada PT6A-27 engines, it first flew on May 20, 1965. Its three versions included the DHC-6-200 with a longer nose for increased baggage space, and the DHC-6-300, which had a 210-mph maximum speed and 12,500-pound gross weight.

Other than the Fokker F.27 Friendship, the DHC-6 Twin Otter became Pilgrim’s workhorse, making the 20-minute hop across Long Island Sound from Islip to New Haven. On the December 1, 1985 cover of its system timetable, it advertised, “New nonstops to Washington and New Haven.”

Connecticut competition from NewAir, which was originally designated New Haven Airways, offered identical service. Based at Tweed New Haven Airport, it advertised itself as “Connecticut’s Airline Connection,” but utilized low-wing, equally-sized Embraer EMB-110 Bandeirante commuter aircraft.

Named after the Brazilians who explored and colonized the western portion of the country in the 17th century, the conventional design, with two three-bladed turboprops and a retractable tricycle undercarriage, accommodated between 15 and 18 passengers. It was the first South American commercial aircraft to have been ordered by European and US carriers.

Originally sporting circular passenger windows and powered by PT6A-20 engines, it entailed a three-prototype certification program, each aircraft respectively first taking to the air on October 28, 1968, October 19, 1969, and June 26, 1970. Although initially designated the C-95 when launch-ordered by the Brazilian Air Force (for 60 of the type), the EMB-110 was certified two years later on August 9.

Powered by PT6A-27 engines, production aircraft featured square passenger windows, a 50.3-foot wingspan, a forward, left air stair door, and redesigned nacelles so that the main undercarriage units could be fully enclosed in the retracted position.

Designated EMB-110C and accommodating 15, the type entered scheduled service with Transbrasil on April 16, 1973 and it was integral in filling its and VASP’s feederline needs.

Six rows of three-abreast seats with an offset aisle and 12,345-pound gross weights characterized the third level/commuter EMB-110P version, while the longer fuselage EMB-110P2, first ordered by French commuter carrier Air Littoral, was powered by uprated, 750-shp PT6A-34s and offered seating for 21.

According to NewAir’s September 1, 1983 timetable, it served the eight destinations of Baltimore, Islip, New Haven, New London, Newark, New York-La Guardia, Philadelphia, and Washington-National. From Long Island MacArthur itself, it offered two daily departures to Baltimore, two to New Haven, and one to New London.

Air service was also offered to neighboring state Rhode Island by Newport State Airport based National Air. “All flights are operated with 22-passenger CASA C-212-200 aircraft, providing National Air’s passengers with widebody, stand-up headroom comfort,” it advertized. “In-flight service (beverage only) is provided on all flights by courteous flight attendants.”

Designed by Construcciones Aeronautics SA (CASA) as a multi-role transport for the Spanish Air Force, the high-wing, dual-engine, fixed tricycle undercarriage design sported porthole-shaped passenger windows, a dorsal fin, and a rear loading ramp that led to the uninterrupted, box-shaped cabin. Its civil application was nevertheless considered from design inception.

Intended as a replacement for the Spanish Air Force’s now antiquated Junkers Ju.52/3ms, Douglas DC-3s, and CASA 207 Azors, it was powered by two 776-shp Garrett AiResearch TPE331 turboprops. Two prototypes, first flying on March 26 and October 23 of 1971, preceded the first production example, which took to the sky a year later on November 17.

In military guise, it was operated as a paratrooper, an air ambulance, a freighter, a crew trainer, and a photo surveyor, while its commercial counterpart, the C-212C, accommodated 19 passengers.

The C-212-200, with a 44.9-foot overall length, 62.4-foot wingspan, 900-shp Garrett AiResearch TPE331-10-501C engines, a 219-mph cruise speed, a 28,000-foot service ceiling, and a 16,093-pound gross weight, had a 470-mile range with its maximum fuel.

By the end of 1981, 292 civil and military Aviocars had been in operation in 27 countries.

From Islip, National Air operated three daily departures to Newport to the east with continuing service to Providence and Boston and three to New York-JFK in the west. Philadelphia was the only other destination in its minuscule route system at this time. Passenger check-in, like that of NewAir, took place at the Pilgrim Airlines ticket counter.

Another New England-served state from Islip was Vermont by appropriately named Air Vermont.

Based in Morrisville and established in 1981, it served 13 northeast cities,according to its October 1, 1983 timetable: Albany, Berlin (New Hampshire), Boston, Burlington, Hartford, Long Island, Nantucket, Newport (Vermont), New York-JFK, Portland, Washington-National, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, and Worcester. It also used the now-crowded Pilgrim Airlines facilities.

Its fleet consisted of Piper PA-31-350 Navajo Chieftains and Beech C99s.

The latter, perhaps its “flagship,” was a development of the Queen Air business/executive aircraft, whose capacity was insufficient for commuter routes. Subjected to a fuselage stretch in 1965, which gave it a new, 44.7-foot overall length, it was now able to accommodate 15 passengers arranged in single seats on either side of a central aisle. It featured an aft, left air stair door.

Powered by two 715-shp Pratt and Whitney Canada PT6A-27 engines, yet resembling its Queen Air predecessor with its low wing, conventional tail, and retractable tricycle undercarriage, it received its FAA type approval on May 2, 1968. With a 10,900-pound gross weight and 283-mph maximum cruise speed, it had between a 530- and 838-mile range, depending upon payload-to-fuel ratios.

Commuter Airlines of Chicago inaugurated it into service. Although 164 B99s and B99As were produced, the C99, with a 44-cubic-foot eternal, under-fuselage pannier, provided a needed addition to the otherwise standard forward and aft baggage compartments. The latter, which marked the resumption of the type’s production in 1979, had uprated, 715-shp PT6A-36 engines and a 285-knot maximum speed at 8,000 feet. It first flew on June 20 of the following year.

National Air offered three daily nonstops to Newport with the aircraft departing at 0935, 1345, and 1850. All continued on to Albany and Burlington.

There were several other commuter carriers, which, like actors, both periodically and temporarily appeared on the MacArthur stage to collect passengers and transport them to northeastern destinations with an eye toward making a profit. Many did not.

Albany-based Mall Airways, for instance, in existence between 1973 and 1989, served 18 destinations in Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Virginia, along with operating trans-border sectors to Ontario and Quebec in Canada, although hardly all from Islip. A heavy New York state route concentration had it touch down in Albany, Binghamton, Buffalo, Elmira, Islip, Ithaca, New York-La Guardia, Rochester, Syracuse, and White Plains with a fleet of Piper Navajo Chieftains, Beech King Air 90s, B99s, and B1900Cs.

The latter, a stretched version of the Super King Air (which in high-density commuter configuration could carry 13), retained the same low wing mounting and t-tail, but its longer, 25.3-foot cabin, with a 425 cubic-foot volume, accommodated 19 with a central aisle. Intended for multiple-stop commuter routes, it was powered by two wing-mounted Pratt and Whitney Canada 1,100-shp PT6A-65B engines and could operate from grass and unprepared fields. First flying on September 3, 1982, it was certified the following year on November 22.

The more capacious B1900D, only the second 19-seater to offer standup headroom after the British Aerospace Jetstream 31, introduced a higher ceiling, greater internal volume, more powerful engines, modified propellers, winglets, a larger tail, and an electronic flight instrument system (EFIS) cockpit.

Another New York State-based, Long Island MacArthur operator, reflected by its very name, was Empire Airlines and it flew, at least initially, B1900C-resembling equipment-in this case, the Swearingen Metro.

Founded in 1976 by Paul Quackenbush, it inaugurated service from Utica/Rome’s Oneida Country Airport, often to small cities that had been abandoned by Allegheny Airlines, and eventually touched down in the ten states of Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Virginia, and the two Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec.

Mirroring the now Allegheny absorbed route system of Mohawk Airlines, the “Empire State” carrier served Albany, Binghamton, Buffalo, Elmira, Islip, Ithaca, New York-JFK, New York-La Guardia, Niagara Falls, Rochester, Syracuse, White Plains, and Utica/Roma.

Although it operated 13 Fokker F.28-4000 Fellowship pure-jets between 1980 and 1986, six Metro IIs formed the backbone of its earlier turboprop fleet.

Itself a stretch of the six- to eight-passenger Swearingen Merlin IIIA executive aircraft, it introduced a longer fuselage, increasing its length to 59.4 feet from the Merlin’s 42.2 for accommodation of up to 22, but retained its engines, wing, and tail surfaces. Designed by Ed Swearingen for commuter operations, it first flew on June 11, 1970, designated SA-226TC.

Swearingen itself became a subsidiary of Fairchild Industries in November of 1971, resulting in the type’s San Antonio, Texas, final assembly.

Air Wisconsin became the first major customer.

The upgraded Metro II, powered by 940-shp Garrett AiResearch TPE331-3U-303G engines and introduced in 1971, replaced the original oval passenger windows with square ones, had a 43.3-foot wingspan, a 12,500-pound gross weight, and could cruise at 294 mph.

Empire operated three daily Metro flights to its Syracuse hub, departing at 0905, 1525, and 1830 and facilitating connections to Albany, Binghamton, Elmira, Ithaca, Montreal, Rochester, and Utica/Rome. According to its April 1, 1985 system timetable, “Flights 1 through 99 are operated with 85-passenger Fokker F.28 jets. Flights 100 through 999 are operated with 19-passenger Swearingen Metro II jetprops.”

After Empire was acquired by Piedmont Airlines in 1985, its Syracuse hub joined Piedmont’s own-that is, those in Baltimore, Charlotte, and Dayton.

Northeast carriers often made their imprints on the Long Island air field, fleeting though they were. Late to the scene, Windsor Locks, Connecticut-based Shuttle America, a low-fare, de Havilland of Canada DHC-8-300 operator, inaugurated service between Hartford and Buffalo, but soon touched down in Albany, Boston (in Hanscom Field), Greensboro, Islip (as of November 13, 1998), New York-La Guardia, Norfolk, Trenton, and Wilmington with its half-dozen aircraft.

Boston became the battleground for several independent commuter airlines. One of the largest carriers to connect Long Island with it was Ransome Airlines.

Founded by J. Dawson Ransome in 1967 and based at Northeast Philadelphia Airport, it commenced service that March with 11-passenger Beechcraft 18s, progressively expanding into a significantly sized regional carrier with a northeast route system. It operated both independently and aligned with major airlines for two-letter code-share feed, specifically as Allegheny Commuter, the Delta Connection, and finally Pan Am Express. It operated for 28 years.

Two aircraft were integral to its expansion.

The first of these was the Nord 262. Initially envisioned as a development of the dual-engine MH-260 Broussard, which had first flown on July 29, 1960 and which subsequently became the responsibility of state-owned Nord Aviation, it was modified with a pressurized, circular fuselage to permit three-abreast seating for 24, first flying in prototype form as the redesignated Nord 262 two years later on December 24, then powered by two 1,080-shp Bastan VIB2 turboprops. Three pre-production and a single production example, visibly distinguishable by its dorsal fin, ultimately partook of the flight test program.

Sporting a 63.3-foot length, a 71-foot span of its high wing, and a retractable tricycle undercarriage, it had a 23,370-pound gross weight and could cruise at up to 233 mph.

Lake Central Airlines, US launch customer with an order for 12, inaugurated the type into service in May of 1965, and the aircraft was transferred to Allegheny three years later upon Lake Central’s acquisition. They were subsequently operated by the Allegheny Commuter consortium.

Because its French powerplants hindered further US sales, it was retrofitted with five-bladed, 1,180-shp Pratt and Whitney Canada PT6A-45As and updated systems, and redesignated the Mohawk M-298 to reflect the FAR 298 airworthiness regulations that governed its operation.

First flying on January 7, 1975, it entered service two years later with Allegheny Commuter, of which Ransome was a member.

The other major type in its fleet, perhaps then considered the “granddaddy” of the early commuter turboprops, was the de Havilland of Canada DHC-7.

Resembling, in overall configuration, the DHC-6 Twin Otter, it featured an 80.8-foot overall length; a high, straight wing with a 93-foot span; four 1,120-shp PT6A-50 turboprop engines; a sizeable dorsal fin; a t-tail; a retractable tricycle undercarriage; and accommodation of 54 four-abreast passengers in a wide-look cabin with a galley and a lavatory.

Intended for short takeoff and landing operations from fields as short as 2,000 feet-and, in fact, was able to operate from the runway stubs at Washington National Airport without requiring a specific landing slot-it generated high lift by means of the five-bladed, slow-turning propellers, that bathed the airfoils’ upper surface and eliminated the need for leading edge devices. Aside from reducing external and internal cabin noise levels, it facilitated steep, controlled approaches.

Construction of two prototypes, preceded by Canadian government financial backing, commenced in 1972, and they first flew three years later on March 27 and June 26. The first production version, intended for launch customer Rocky Mountain airways, first took to the sky on May 30, 1977.

With an 11,350-pound payload and a 44,000-pound maximum takeoff weight, it had ranges between 840 and 1,335 miles, the latter with its full fuel uplift.

Ransome came as close as any other airline to establishing a mini-commuter carrier hub at Long Island MacArthur Airport with 23 daily M-298 and DHC-7-100 weekday nonstops, including three to Baltimore, six to Boston, two to Hartford, one to Newark, six to Philadelphia, and five to Providence.

In its October 31, 1982 system timetable, it proclaimed, “Rely on Ransome Airlines, American’s most experienced regional airline.”

Another, albeit much smaller, commuter carrier that provided Boston service was Precision Airlines. Based at Springfield State Airport in Springfield, Vermont, it operated Dornier Do-228-200s.

Very loosely based upon the Do-28D-2 Skyservant, a 12-passenger utility airplane, it equally sported a high-mounted “TNT Tragfluegels neuer Technologie” or “new technology wing,” consisting of a Dornier A-5 airfoil section with swept tips.

Powered by two 715-shp Garrett AiResearch TPE331-5 engines, it had a 54.3-foot length and a 55.7-foot span. Retracting its undercarriage main bogies into under-fuselage fairings, it had a 12,570-pound gross weight, 268-mph maximum cruising speed at 10,000 feet, and 715-mile, full-payload range.

Its two versions, the 15-passenger Do-228-100 and the 19-passenger Do-228-200, respectively first flew on March 28 and May 9, 1981.

According to Precision’s November 15, 1983 timetable, it offered three daily nonstops to Philadelphia and three to Boston from Islip, the latter continuing to Manchester, New Hampshire.

Another Boston service provider was Business Express Airlines.

Founded in 1982 as Atlantic Air, but stressing its business-oriented route system in its subsequently changed name, it expanded by acquiring some of the carriers that had independently served Islip, including Pilgrim Airlines in 1986 (which itself had already taken over NewAir); Mall Airways in 1989, which gave it access to the Canadian cities of Montreal, Toronto, and Ottawa; and Brockway Air, also in 1989, which provisioned it with a fleet of B1900Cs and Saab 340s. The latter became its MacArthur (and northeast) workhorse.

As the first collaborative US-European design, it was jointly produced by Fairchild Corporation’s Swearingen subsidiary, which already had commuter airliner experience, and Swedish manufacturer Saab AB, which did not, traditionally having focused on the military sector, such as with its JAS-39 Gripen mufti-role combat design.

Turning its attention to a commercial application for the first time, Saab began design studies for a 30-passenger commuter turboprop. Because of the scope of the project, which would have been the largest industrial venture in Sweden, it sought a risk sharing partner, which, in the event, appeared as Fairchild. It would produce the wings, engine nacelles, and tail, while Saab itself would manufacture the fuselage and fin, and assume 75 percent of the program’s development, systems integration, and certification aspects.

Designated SF-340 (for “Saab-Fairchild”), the resultant aircraft, an aerodynamically clean, low-wing monoplane with a high aspect ratio airfoil and large-span single-slotted flaps, two 1,870-shp General Electric CT79B engines, and a retractable tricycle undercarriage, accommodated 34 passengers at a 30-inch seat pitch with an offset aisle, enclosed overhead storage compartments, a galley, a lavatory, and a forward, left air stair.

Featuring a 64.9-foot length and a 70.4-foot span, the aircraft had a 7,500-pound payload and 29,000-pound maximum takeoff weight capability. Typical initial block hour fuel consumption was 1,015 pounds out of the 5,690-pound total.

Redesignated Saab 340 after Fairchild withdrew from the program, with 40 airframes having been built, Saab became the sole manufacturer of it.

The Saab 340B, succeeding the basic 340A, introduced more powerful engines, an increased horizontal stabilizer span, higher weights, and greater range. The 340B Plus offered active noise and vibration control.

Business Express flew 23 S-340As and 20 S-340Bs. After the carrier was purchased by AMR Eagle Holding Corporation and became American Eagle on December 1, 2000, it continued to operate its half-dozen nonstops from Islip to Boston in the new carrier’s livery, although it ceased to independently exist itself.

As perhaps a smaller reflection of Business Express, CommutAir also offered Long Island-Boston service. Founded in 1989 and eventually serving 22 northeast destinations with 30 19-passenger B1900Ds, it dispatched three weekday departures to Boston, with the balance of its eight flights calling at Albany, Buffalo, Rochester, and Syracuse.

Having operated as a US Airways Express and Continental Connection carrier, it surrendered its Boston frequencies to Colgan Air in time.

Code-Share Hub Feed Service:

Although several airlines inaugurated Islip service as independent operators, such as Ransome, Precision, Business Express, and CommutAir, they ultimately continued under two-letter code share agreements with major airlines from the Delta Connection to Northwest Airlink. Some inceptionally operated in this guise.

One of them was the Allegheny Commmuter consortium. “USAir and Allegheny Commuter-a great team to go with,” the carrier proclaimed in its advertising. “Service to over 120 cities in the US and Canada. All flights C500 through C1999 (listed in its system timetable) are approved by the Civil Aeronautics Board. These flights are operated with Beech 99, de Havilland Twin Otter, de Havilland Dash 7, Nord 262, M-298, Shorts 330, CASA-212, and Swearingen Metro equipment.”

Aside from Ransome, Suburban Airlines was a significant member of the consortium, initially operating Shorts 330 and later Shorts 360 aircraft.

Based upon the early-1960’s Skyvan, the former can trace some of its design elements to it. Characterized by a box-section fuselage for straight-in rear loading, a stubby, high-mounted wing, twin vertical tails, and a fixed tricycle undercarriage, it could carry up to 19 passengers or 4,000 pounds of cargo.

While the longer, sleeker Shorts 330 retained the Skyvan’s outer wing panels, it introduced a new center section, five-bladed PT6A-45 engines that replaced the previous Garrett AiResearch ones, a retractable landing gear, and a 30-seat, three-abreast interior with enclosed overhead storage compartments.

Launched after receiving UK government funding, the initially designated SD3-30 first flew on August 22, 1974 and was ordered by launch customer Command Airways in the US and Time Air in Canada.

The series 200, succeeding the 100, offered a 22,900-pound gross weight attained with more powerful, 1,020-shp PT6A-45R powerplants.

The Shorts 360, the ultimate development of the Skyvan and 330 lineage, had a three-foot forward fuselage plug, increasing its length from 58 to 70.6 feet, a tapered aft section with revised contours, a single vertical tail, enhanced cruise performance, and the addition of two seat rows, increasing capacity from 30 to 36.

First flying on June 1, 1981, it had a 25,700-pound gross weight and 243-mph high-speed cruise capability at 10,000 feet. Suburban Airlines was the launch customer.

Its ten-point route system encompassed Allentown, Binghamton, Buffalo, Lancaster, Long Island, New London/Groton, Newark, New York-JFK, Philadelphia, and Reading. In-flight service consisted of miniature trays of cheddar cheese spread, breadsticks, chips, and a beverage selection from the cart.

Its November 1, 1985 timetable listed four weekday nonstops to Boston and five to Philadelphia from Islip.

Another early-if not the first-commuter-main carrier cooperation was that between Henson and Allegheny Commuter.

Formed in 1961 by Richard A. Henson as Henson Aviation, a fixed base operator in Hagerstown, Maryland, it inaugurated a scheduled route to Washington the following year under the “Hagerstown Commuter” name. Inaugurating two-letter code share service as an Allegheny Commuter carrier five years later, it operated 15-passenger Beech 99s.

Headquartered in Salisbury, Maryland, in 1968, it maintained a tri-point route system, encompassing Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington and introduced cabin attendant service with the acquisition of Shorts 330 aircraft, succeeding it with de Havilland of Canada DHC-8-100s.

Resembling its DHC-7 predecessor, but sporting two instead of four powerplants, the 37-passenger Dash 8 was powered by 1,800-shp PW120s and their elongated nacelles provided stowage for the aircraft’s rearward retracting main undercarriage struts. With a 73-foot length and an 84.11-foot wingspan, whose center section was rectangular, but whose outboard sections featured taper and dihedral, it had a 34,500-pound gross weight and 310-mph speed.

Registered C-GDNK, it first flew in prototype form on June 20, 1983 and was delivered to launch customer NorOntair on October 23 of the following year.

Before operating its own DHC-8-100s, Henson, which had been rebranded “Henson, The Piedmont Regional Airline” after Piedmont’s agreement with it, fielded two daily B99s (flights 1710 and 1719) and three daily Shorts 330s (flights 1502, 1528, and 1539) to Piedmont’s Baltimore hub, with connections to Charlottesville, Hagerstown, Newport News, Norfolk, Ocean City, Richmond, Roanoke, Salisbury, Shenandoah Valley, and Washington-National, according to its January 15, 1984 timetable.

Another major carrier-aligned regional, operating aircraft in its major’s livery, using its two-letter code, and partaking of a joint marketing agreement for the purposes of hub feed, was Atlantic Coast, which assumed the profile of United Express.

The agreement, concluded on December 15, 1989, ensured secondary city funneling into United’s Chicago-O’Hare and Washington-Dulles hubs with several commuter aircraft-the Jetstream 31, the Jetstream 41, the DHC-8, and the EMB-120 among them. It was the latter type that it operated into Islip.

Building upon the foundation created by the EMB-110 Bandeirante, the EMB-120, a low-wing, circular-fuselage, t-tail design optimized for 30 three-abreast passengers, was hatched from Empresa Brasileira de Aeronautica S. A.’s Sao Jose dos Campos facility in Sao Paulo. Powered by two 1,800-shp Pratt and Whitney Canada PW118 or -118A engines, it had a maximum, 298-knot speed and a 30,000-foot service ceiling.

Ideal for commuter sectors, it attracted considerable US sales, including 62 from ASA Atlantic Southeast Airlines, 40 from Comair, 70 from SkyWest, 35 from WestAir, and 34 from Texas Air.

Atlantic Coast’s October 31, 1990 timetable stated, “The following carrier has a cooperative agreement with United, offering expanded destinations, coordinated schedules, and the same travel service featured on United. Applicable carrier and United flight range: Atlantic Coast/United Express: Flight numbers UA3570-UA3739.”

Its four daily flights to Washington-Dulles departed at 0645, 1200, 1450, and 1800.

Although not offering much major carrier feed, another code share operator from Long Island MacArthur was Metro Air Northeast, which assumed the identify of TWExpress, dispatching five daily nonstops with Saab 340 aircraft at 0630, 0915, 1250, 1605, and 1825 to Albany with “7000” flight numbers. The first departure, for instance, was TW 7941.

Its December 1, 1990 timetable advertised, “The shortest distance between you and TWA” and “Your commuter connection to TWA.”

Last Commuter Carrier Operation:

Change, the result of market conditions, was the only constant. But as fuel and operational costs increased, the number of daily commuter flights and the mostly northeast cities they served decreased. Consequently, as the airline players disappeared, so, too, did the passengers.

Like a ghost town of commuter operations whose only propeller sounds were those in the minds of the passengers who remembered them, Long Island MacArthur Airport became the stage for a final attempt at restoring them in the guise of Alaska-based PenAir.

Taking advantage of the FAA’s Air Carrier Incentive Plan, which entailed reduced fees to entice new entrants to begin flights in underserved markets, it replaced the Boston service vacated by American Eagle in 2008 by inaugurating two daily Saab 340 departures, at 0840 and 1910, with one-way, $119 introductory fares, citing Islip a logical extension to its three-point route system of Bar Harbor, Presque Isle, and Plattsburgh. Yet logic did not always equal profitability and after a valiant year’s effort, the carrier was left without choice but to discontinue the service due to low load factors.

After the multitude of commuter airlines had opened the passenger floodgates at Long Island MacArthur Airport during a more than five-decade period, PenAir closed them. At the dawn of 2020, there was not a single propeller providing scheduled service to be heard.

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Southwest Airlines Operations – A Strategic Perspective

Background:

Southwest Airlines is the largest airline measured by number of passengers carried each year within the United States. It is also known as a ‘discount airline’ compared with its large rivals in the industry. Rollin King and Herb Kelleher founded Southwest Airlines on June 18, 1971. Its first flights were from Love Field in Dallas to Houston and San Antonio, short hops with no-frills service and a simple fare structure. The airline began with one simple strategy: “If you get your passengers to their destinations when they want to get there, on time, at the lowest possible fares, and make darn sure they have a good time doing it, people will fly your airline.” This approach has been the key to Southwest’s success. Currently, Southwest serves about 60 cities (in 31 states) with 71 million total passengers carried (in 2004) and with a total operating revenue of $6.5 billion. Southwest is traded publicly under the symbol “LUV” on NYSE.

Facts:

* The first major airline to fly a single type of aircraft (Boeing 737s)

* The first major airline to offer ticketless travel system wide including a frequent flier program based on number of trips and not number of miles flown.

* The first airline to offer a profit-sharing program to its Employees (instituted in 1973).

* The first major airline to develop a Web site and offer online booking. In 2001, about 40 percent ($2.1 billion) of its passenger revenue was generated through online bookings at (http://www.southwest.com). Southwest’s cost per booking via the Internet is about $1, compared to a cost per booking through travel agents of $6 to $8.

Key competitive advantages:

* Low Operational costs / High Operational Efficiency

* Award winning customer service

* Human Resource practices / Work culture

Operations Analysis – Competitive Dimensions:

Southwest clearly has a distinct advantage compared to other airlines in the industry by executing an effective and efficient operations strategy that forms an important pillar of its overall corporate strategy. Given below are some competitive dimensions that will be studied in this paper.

1. Operational Costs and Efficiency

2. Customer Service

3. Employee/Labor Relations

4. Technology

1. Operational Costs and Efficiency

After all, the airline industry overall is in shambles. But, how does Southwest Airlines stay profitable? Southwest Airlines has the lowest costs and strongest balance sheet in its industry, according to its chairman Kelleher. The two biggest operating costs for any airline are – labor costs (approx 40%) followed by fuel costs (approx 18%). Some other ways that Southwest is able to keep their operational costs low is – flying point-to-point routes, choosing secondary (smaller) airports, carrying consistent aircraft, maintaining high aircraft utilization, encouraging e-ticketing etc.

Labor Costs

The labor costs for Southwest typically accounts for about 37% of its operating costs. Perhaps the most critical element of the successful low-fare airline business model is achieving significantly higher labor productivity. According to a recent HBS Case Study, southwest airlines is the “most heavily unionized” US airline (about 81% of its employees belong to an union) and its salary rates are considered to be at or above average compared to the US airline industry. The low-fare carrier labor advantage is in much more flexible work rules that allow cross-utilization of virtually all employees (except where disallowed by licensing and safety standards). Such cross-utilization and a long-standing culture of cooperation among labor groups translate into lower unit labor costs. At Southwest in 4th quarter 2000, total labor expense per available seat mile (ASM) was more than 25% below that of United and American, and 58% less than US Airways.

Carriers like Southwest have a tremendous cost advantage over network airlines simply because their workforce generates more output per employee. In a study in 2001, the productivity of Southwest employees was over 45% higher than at American and United, despite the substantially longer flight lengths and larger average aircraft size of these network carriers. Therefore by its relentless pursuit for lowest labor costs, Southwest is able to positively impact its bottom line revenues.

Fuel Costs

Fuel costs is the second-largest expense for airlines after labor and accounts for about 18 percent of the carrier’s operating costs. Airlines that want to prevent huge swings in operating expenses and bottom line profitability choose to hedge fuel prices. If airlines can control the cost of fuel, they can more accurately estimate budgets and forecast earnings. With growing competition and air travel becoming a commodity business, being competitive on price was key to any airline’s survival and success. It became hard to pass higher fuel costs on to passengers by raising ticket prices due to the highly competitive nature of the industry.

Southwest has been able to successfully implement its fuel hedging strategy to save on fuel expenses in a big way and has the largest hedging position among other carriers. In the second quarter of 2005, Southwest’s unit costs fell by 3.5% despite a 25% increase in jet fuel costs. During Fiscal year 2003, Southwest had much lower fuel expense (0.012 per ASM) compared to the other airlines with the exception of JetBlue as illustrated in exhibit 1 below. In 2005, 85 per cent of the airline’s fuel needs has been hedged at $26 per barrel. World oil prices in August 2005 reached $68 per barrel. In the second quarter of 2005 alone, Southwest achieved fuel savings of $196 million. The state of the industry also suggests that airlines that are hedged have a competitive advantage over the non-hedging airlines. Southwest announced in 2003 that it would add performance-enhancing Blended Winglets to its current and future fleet of Boeing 737-700’s. The visually distinctive Winglets will improve performance by extending the airplane’s range, saving fuel, lowering engine maintenance costs, and reducing takeoff noise.

Point-to-Point Service

Southwest operates its flight point-to-point service to maximize its operational efficiency and stay cost-effective. Most of its flights are short hauls averaging about 590 miles. It uses the strategy to keep its flights in the air more often and therefore achieve better capacity utilization.

Secondary Airports

Southwest flies to secondary/smaller airports in an effort to reduce travel delays and therefore provide excellent service to its customers. It has led the industry in on-time performance. Southwest has also been able to trim down its airport operations costs relatively better than its rival airlines.

Consistent aircraft

At the heart of Southwest’s success is its single aircraft strategy: Its fleet consists exclusively of Boeing 737 jets. Having common fleet significantly simplifies scheduling, operations and flight maintenance. The training costs for pilots, ground crew and mechanics are lower, because there’s only a single aircraft to learn. Purchasing, provisioning, and other operations are also vastly simplified, thereby lowering costs. Consistent aircraft also enables Southwest to utilize its pilot crew more efficiently.

E-Ticketing

The idea of ticketless travel was a major advantage to Southwest because it could lower its distribution costs. Southwest became electronic or ticketless back in the mid-1990s, and today they are about 90-95% ticketless. Customers who use credit cards are eligible for online transactions, and today Southwest.com bookings account for about 65% of total revenue. The CEO Gary Kelly thinks that this idea would grow further and that he wouldn’t be surprised if e-ticketing accounted for 75% of Southwest’s revenues by end of 2005. In the past, when there was a 10% travel agency commission paid, it used to cost about $8 a booking. But currently, Southwest is paying between 50 cents and $1 per booking for electronic transactions that translate to huge cost savings.

2. Employee and Labor Relations

Southwest has been highly regarded for its innovative management style. It maintains a relentless focus on high-performance relationships and its people-management practices have been the key to its unparalleled success in the airline industry.

Mission Statement

To Our Employees

“We are committed to provide our Employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth. Creativity and innovation are encouraged for improving the effectiveness of Southwest Airlines. Above all, Employees will be provided the same concern, respect, and caring attitude within the organization that they are expected to share externally with every Southwest Customer.”

The Southwest mission statement shows that the company has a strong commitment to its employees. The company affords the same respect to its employees that is provided to its customers. The Southwest mission statement is unique in that it recognizes the importance of its employees within the broader business strategy, which emphasizes superb customer service and operational efficiency. The employees reciprocate the respect, loyalty and trust that Southwest demonstrates. Southwest employees are known for their loyalty, dedication, attitude and innovation. The employees are the distinguishing factor between Southwest and the rest of the airline industry.

Hiring

Southwest hiring policy is unique not only within the airline industry, but also more broadly, and revolves around finding people with the right attitude that will thrive in the Southwest culture. Extensive procedures are employed to hire for positive attitude and dedication. Those who do not posses those qualities are weeded out. Colleen Barrett, a non-operational officer at Southwest, states that

“Hiring is critical, because you cannot institutionalize behavior. Instead, you must identify those people who already practice the behaviors you are looking for. Then you can allow Employees to be themselves and make decisions about Customer service based on common sense and their natural inclinations.” 1

Recruiting and interviewing at Southwest is a two-step process. The first step is a group interview, conducted by employees, where communication skills of potential candidates are evaluated. The next steps in this process are one on one interview, where the candidates’ attitudes and orientation toward serving others are evaluated. These hiring criteria apply to all job functions since all Employees at Southwest play a customer service role. A critical part of Southwest operational strategy is that every job at Southwest is a customer service position, whether it directly applies to the customer or whether it is internal.

The table below shows that even though Southwest is the most heavily unionized airline, at approximately 80%, that contract negotiations between the unions and Southwest are much shorter in duration than of the other major carriers. This shows the quality of relationship that Southwest has with its employees and with the unions that represent them.

Culture

Southwest was created as a different kind of company and from its beginnings a unique culture was nurtured. In 1990 Colleen Barrett formed the Southwest Culture Committee. This is unique within the industry and among all large companies. The committee also has a mission statement:

“This group’s goal is to help create the Southwest spirit and culture where needed; to enrich it and make it better where it already exists; and to liven it up in places where it might be “floundering”. In short, this group’s goal is to do “whatever it takes” to create, enhance, and enrich the special Southwest spirit and culture that has made this such a wonderful Company/Family.”

It is this unique approach to company values that has created a culture that differentiates itself from others. Southwest’s culture is the reason why it is successful.

3. Customer Service

The Mission of Southwest Airlines

The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit.

Approach

Herb Kelleher, founder of Southwest, has been quoted as saying that “We’re in the Customer service business; we just happen to provide airline transportation”.2 Award winning customer service is a distinguishing characteristic of Southwest and it is referred to internally as “Positively Outrageous Service”. It means that from the top to bottom everyone does whatever he or she can to satisfy the customer. This includes Herb Kelleher, who has been known for helping out baggage handlers on Thanksgiving. It is through emphasizing the customer and employee that Southwest is able to differentiate itself from others in the airline industry. On a more technical level, each employee or group within Southwest has his or her own customer. This means that every employee ‘serves’ in one way or another despite not being directly involved with the passenger. The mechanic’s customer is the pilot and the caterer’s is the flight attendant.

Results

It can be said that the “Positively Outrageous Service” that is unique to Southwest “is not the result of a department, or a program, or a mandate from management. It is not secondary to the product; it is the product.” This approach creates the conditions where Employees are more likely to treat customers in ways that distinguish the company from others. There are numerous accounts of passengers who have received exceptional treatment from Southwest employees.

The question that needs to be answered is how Southwest’s customer service is different and why? Is it common for customers of other airlines to rave about their special service? The answer is that it is not. While Southwest does not have a monopoly on people who are kind and who are willing to go above and beyond to satisfy a customer, such behavior is nurtured at Southwest to a much greater extent.

It can then be concluded that the customer service that is inherent to Southwest is a part of its culture. This culture is supported through employee encouragement to do the extra to satisfy the customer. This approach inspires people who would ordinarily only on occasion go out of their way to help someone, to become consistent performers that offer exceptional service all the time. Southwest employees are what differentiate its customer service from the other airlines.

4. Technology

Southwest utilizes technology in many ways to fulfill its business objectives and maintain its efficient operations. According to its CEO, technology equals productivity. Launched in 1996, ticketless travel was first introduced by Southwest. On May 1st 2000, Southwest Airlines introduces “SWABIZ,” a portal that assists company travel managers in booking and tracking trips made through its web site (http://www.southwest.com). There are many new technology initiatives being undertaken currently and some are in the pipeline.

Bar codes in Boarding Passes

Southwest Airlines has invested $12 million during the past three years to standardize corporate and terminal operations on about 10,000 Dell OptiPlex desktop and Latitude notebook computers according to its company executives. Southwest wanted to replace its well known, brightly colored plastic boarding passes with an electronic system with bar-code paper boarding passes. So it installed about 350 touch screen ticket readers powered by Dell OptiPlex desktops. The bar code gives Southwest more information to automatically reconcile the number of boarding passes with the number of passengers that actually board the plane.

Although the technology will help Southwest Airlines remain efficient by consolidating passenger information for the company’s 3,000 daily flights, there were concerns it could lengthen the time to get travelers on board. However it was found that scanning each bar code on the boarding passes didn’t increase or shorten boarding schedules, but it did take minutes from administrative processes, such as looking up customer records. The new paper bar code system is giving Southwest ticket agents the ability to match a customer record within having to scroll through and log into multiple software screens. The process is much more automated. Once the bar code on the boarding pass is scanned at the terminal gate it checks off the person from the passenger list in real time.

The old process was manual that involved finding the information, scrolling through several software screens from reservations to check-in to boarding. The bar code hardware to scan the boarding passes has been deployed. The company is in the process of replacing customer service back-office equipment at airports including at its headquarters in Dallas.

Software Upgrades

Software applications, such as those used by clerks to check in passengers, are being replaced. Southwest Airlines’ internally written “Airport Application Suite” is expected to rollout next year as the company transitions from green screens to Window-based user interface. Similar to Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Southwest Airlines believes in developing in-house the software that runs its operations. The company uses very little off-the-shelf software. There are between 75 and 100 projects in the works each year supported by approximately 900 IT employees.

RFID

Radio frequency identification technology, a favorable alternative to bar-coding for luggage identification, is also on Southwest’s radar. It plans to test RFID technology sometime in 2006. Even though, Southwest is playing a little catch-up with other airlines such as Air Tran, Alaska and Champion Airlines, in many cases they are able leapfrog to more sophisticated applications easily having waited longer.

Challenges:

Southwest has emerged very successful, despite the most troubled times in the airline market. However, it faces new challenges in the face of increasing competition from other low fare airlines such as JetBlue, ATA airlines, America West.

Reserved Seating

Due to increasing security guidelines since September 2001, Southwest would need to prepare for assigned (reserved) seating to track its in-flight passengers. This change will involve large technology investments and may impact its gate operations negatively since the current way of unassigned seating has helped in quick gate turnarounds.

Passenger Demand

The keep-it-simple philosophy has served Southwest well. But as its own business grows and grows more complex, with plans to purchase dozens of new aircraft and an expected upsurge in passenger traffic to about 80 million boarding’s a year, the simplicity strategy that has been reflected in the airline’s IT philosophy is evolving. The CIO Tom Nealon says that “It’s time to adapt our business processes for efficiency. As our airline scales for us to provide the same kind of high-touch customer service, we have to automate a lot of things we’ve been able to do without technology previously. The challenge is doing that without conceding the customer touch.” Southwest is also aggressively pursuing customer relationship management (CRM) techniques and has applications to get insight into customer’s wants and dislikes. According to an interview with its CEO Gary Keller, Southwest has its focus on improving in two areas – customer’s airport experience and in-flight experience.

In-Flight Entertainment

In an overall effort to improve customer’s in-flight experience, in-flight entertainment is something that Southwest is currently evaluating and which JetBlue has been very successful at already because of its introduction in its long-haul flights. In comparison, Southwest has 415 airplanes to consider and that represents an investment decision at a whole new dimension. Additionally, Southwest has to consider how things may fit into their environment. At this point, 60% of its service is still very short haul. Southwest needs to be mindful of the fact that a certain approach that has been successful for its competitor may not be necessarily work to its advantage.

Summary:

Southwest has long been regarded as a benchmark in its industry for operational excellence. Southwest Airlines is a fine example of a company that is committed to its core competencies – efficient operations to drive its low cost structure, outstanding delivery of customer service and innovative HR management practices. We hope this paper provided a good insight into Southwest operations, as part of its overall strategy, to achieve success and gain competitive advantage.

References:

1. (http://www.southwest.com) (Southwest airlines official web site)

2. “Southwest keeps it simple” – Air Transport World, April 2005, Pg 36

3. “Around the World on $48 (or So): How High Can Discount Airlines Fly?“ Strategy Management – Knowledge@ Wharton Newsletter Oct 5, 2005

4. TechWeb – (http://www.techweb.com/wire/ebiz/173601227)

5. “Southwest’s Strategy for Success: Consolidate!” – Oracle Magazine (Sept/Oct 2004 edition) http://www.oracle.com/technology/oramag/oracle/04-sep/o54swest.html

6. “Southwest Airlines: High Tech, Low Costs” – Eweek.com, April 2005

7. “Jet Fuel Hedging Strategies: Options Available for Airlines and a Survey of Industry Practices” – Kellogg School of Management Research Paper, Spring 2004

8. Winning Behavior: What the Smartest, Most Successful Companies Do Differently, Terry R. Bacon and David G. Pugh, 2003

9. Time Magazine, Oct 28th 2002 issue, Vol. 160 Issue 18, p. 45

10. “Wings Of Change”,Information Week, March 28, 2005,

11. Labor Contract Negotiations in the Airline Industry, Monthly Labor Review, July 2003, page 24

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The History of Eastern Airlines

Once considered one of the “big four” US carriers, along with American, Delta, and United, it had been innovative and highly successful, having evolved into the world’s second-largest airline during its six-decade history.

Tracing its origins to Pitcairn Aviation, which had been formed on September 15, 1927, it had inaugurated airmail service the following year between Brunswick, New Jersey, and Atlanta with open-cockpit PA-5 Mailwings.

But North American Aviation, a holding company for several fledgling carriers and aircraft manufacturers, purchased the company a year after that, and, changing its name to Eastern Air Transport, inaugurated passenger service with Ford 4-AT Trimotors on the multi-sector hop from Newark to Washington via Camden, Baltimore, Washington, and Richmond on August 18, 1930. Acquisition of the Curtiss Condor enabled it to extend the route to Atlanta.

After absorbing Ludington Air Lines three years later, it was able to incorporate a New York-Philadelphia-Washington triplet to its system.

Eastern’s growth, like that of many other carriers, was jumpstarted by the Air Mail Act of 1934, which entailed the awarding of government contracts to private companies to transport the mail, while the US Postal Service selected them based upon the bid they submitted in competition with others. Although this prompted the formation of upstart companies to operate the airmail routes in the hopes of being chosen, it equally required the separation of the then-common aircraft manufacturer-and-carrier co-ownership.

Circumventing the restriction imposed upon it as a result of its Spoils Conference involvement with General Postmaster Walter Folger Brown, Eastern Air Transport changed its name in 1934 to the one by which it would be known throughout its history, Eastern Air Lines.

Captain Eddie Rickenbacker, World War I flying ace who won the Congressional Medal of Honor, purchased the carrier from the North American Aviation holding for $800.,000 and took over the helm, implementing an aircraft modernization program.

Building its soon-famous Great Silver Fleet, he quickly replaced the slow Curtiss Condor biplanes with all-metal Douglas DC-2s, one of which became the first to land at the new Washington National Airport in 1941. Leaving its imprint on an expanding East Coast network, Eastern plied the New York-Miami sector with wider-cabin, 21-pasenger DC-3s in 1937.

Like many US airlines, whose growth was interrupted by the necessity World War II imposed on it and the requisition of its aircraft for military purposes, Eastern commenced its own military support flights in 1942, connecting the three states of Florida, Pennsylvania, and Texas, spreading its wings to Trinidad in the Caribbean, and ultimately forming its Miami-based Military Transport Division, for which it acquired Curtiss C-46 Commandos.

The seed to its pioneer, tri-city northeast shuttle was planted two years later when the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) awarded it the New York-Boston route over American.

The technological advancements of the 1950s, expressed as range, payload, speed, comfort, and safety increases, occurred so rapidly that, by the time an aircraft was produced, its replacement was already on the drawing board.

The quad-engine DC-4 soon supplemented its 39 twin-engine DC-3s, and its network now encompassed Detroit, St. Louis, and San Juan, Puerto Rico.

The Lockheed L-649 Constellation, inaugurated into service in 1947, yielded to the higher-capacity L-1049 Super Constellation, which plied its signature New York-Miami route as of December 17, 1951. The Martin 4-0-4s replaced the DC-3s and by the middle of the decade, the first DC-7Bs sported Eastern’s livery.

Acquisition of Colonial Airlines gave it access to New York State, New England, Canada, Bermuda, and Mexico City.

The propjet took the form of the four-engine Lockheed L-188 Electra, which was inaugurated into service on January 12, 1959 between New York and Miami, and the pure-jet in the form of the four-engine Douglas DC-8 only a year later, soon supplemented by the smaller-capacity, but higher cruise speed Boeing 720.

Eastern was the first of the big four US carriers to operate the 727-100 tri-jet “Whisperliner”-specifically on the Philadelphia-Washington-Miami run-and the twin-jet DC-9-10.

The famous hourly New York-Boston-Washington air shuttle was launched on April 30, 1961 with the L-188 Electra, for which it advised, “No need to make a reservation. Just ‘show and go.’ All sections are with backup planes standing by to assure a seat for everybody waiting at scheduled departure time.”

One-way weekday fares were $69.00 to Boston and $42.00 to Washington, while the round-trip weekend prices were $55.00 for adults and $37.00 for children to both.

The shuttle was eventually operated by DC-9-30, 727-200, and A-300 aircraft.

Breaking its hitherto East Coast shackles at the end of the 1960s, it expanded to Seattle and Los Angeles on the West Coast, to Nassau and Freeport in the Bahamas with its acquisition of Mackey Airways, and to several Caribbean islands after purchasing Caribair.

Passing the torch to another famous aerospace personality, Captain Eddie Rickenbacker relinquished control to Colonel Frank Borman, who had orbited the earth in Gemini VII in 1966 and the moon in Apollo VIII two years later.

Eastern entered the widebody era with the Lockheed L-1011-1 TriStar in 1972, became the first US carrier to operate the European Airbus Industrie A-300 in 1978 when it ordered 23, and was the launch customer for the Boeing 757-200.

After acquiring Braniff International’s Latin American routes in 1982 and establishing a hub in San Juan, it became the world’s second-largest carrier in terms of annual passengers after Aeroflot, establishing hubs in New York, Charlotte, Atlanta, Miami, and San Juan and toting its “We have to earn our wings everyday” slogan.

But, while it may have earned its wings, it did not necessarily earn the profits to support their lift. Debt from aircraft purchases needed for its expansion and labor disputes necessitated the $615 million purchase by Texas Air Holdings, which also owned Continental, in 1986, and Eastern became a carcass of fodder. Airplanes were sold. Employees were laid off. Assets were transferred to Continental. And its image rapidly deteriorated, especially when it virtually eliminated in-flight service to reduce costs.

Declaring bankruptcy in 1989 and ceasing operations two years later, on January 19, the one-time “wings of man” became the Icarus of deregulation after a six-decade flight.

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