February 1946 saw the initiation of services by the joint Soviet/Romanian airline TARS which was renamed TAROM in 1954 when the Romanians became full owners. TAROM was unusual amongst Warsaw Pact nations in that it was able to purchase western types (though LOT did have Viscounts). This followed the 1965 coming to power of Nicolae Ceausescu who conducted Romania's foreign policy independently of Russia - not taking part in the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia, establishing diplomatic ties with Israel and West Germany etc. Needless to say Ceausescu's moderate start didn't last but that's another topic.
Within aviation Romania's new independence first became visible in 1968 when One-elevens were ordered for European and Middle-Eastern destinations instead of TU-134s.
It happened again in 1974 when Boeing 707s were purchased. The first One-Eleven, BCA, arrived in June 1968 and eventually 9 short series 400s were operated. These were joined from 1976 by 16 series 500s the last of which didn’t arrive new until 1988! This was because BAC signed an agreement for license production of One-elevens in Romania by ROMBAC. This was not a success and only 9 ROMBAC One-Elevens were completed at a very slow pace. YR-BCE joined TAROM’s charter subsidiary LAR in 1990 and was broken up in March 1995. TAROM continued to operate One-Elevens until the late 1990s when they were replaced by 737s.
For medium range routes TAROM stayed with Soviet products and the first of 12 TU-154s arrived in 1976. This was possibly because of increasing financial problems the country faced dealing with Western markets, which was a factor also in the increasing brutality and totalitarianism of Ceausescu's regime and the severe nationwide austerity drive he undertook. Deliveries stretched until 1980 and the type formed the backbone of the fleet into the 1990s when they too were replaced by Boeing 737s. The last TU-154s were retired in late 1995 but this aircraft, YR-TPA the first delivered, was also the first to go and after storage was broken up in 1999.
I'm Richard Stretton: a fan of classic airliners and airlines who enjoys exploring their history through my collection of die-cast airliners. If you enjoy the site please donate whatever you can to help keep it running: