In the immediate postwar era a surplus of trained pilots and demilitarised aircraft led to the establishment of a huge number of non-scheduled airlines who basically did whatever they liked and had little interest in rules and regulations. These non-skeds shook up the industry and began to create competition where previously there had been little, much to the consternation of the Trunk airlines.
By 1960 the CAB had got most of the survivors under control and killed off most of the rest by foul means or fair. The survivors became known as Supplemental airlines and one of the most important of those was TIA...
Originally Los Angeles Air Services it was bought by Kirk Kerkorian in 1947 for $60,000. His operation was tied closely to the growth of Las Vegas as a tourist destination and unlike so many supplementals his business prospered in the 1950s so much so that he renamed it grandly as Trans International Airlines in 1960.
TIA picked up several DC-6s and Super Constellations in the 1960-62 period but really began to make waves in 1962 when it became the first supplemental to start jet operations using N8008D - the first DC-8.
That year the car manufacturer Studebaker had purchased TIA keeping Kerkorian as president though they were forced to sell it back to him in 1964 due to their own financial problems. By 1966 TIA had 3 short DC-8s in service and began to operate transatlantic charters adding cheap backdoor competition to Pan Am, TWA and BOAC. In 1968 Kerkorian sold the airline again pocketing not far off $100 million which he invested in Vegas (see Kirk Kerkorian - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia).
Purchased by the Transamerica Corp the airline really blossomed, helped no doubt by the ramp up in Vietnam ops. A pair of 727-100s were added as were the first of a large fleet of DC-8-61/63s. The DC-8-61/63 fleet would grow to be eleven strong by mid 1970 with further additions in the 1970s. N8960T see below) as with other members of the fleet spent most of the 70s on lease: to Universal (71-mid-72) and Seaboard World (73-78). The latter sub-leased her at times to Air Cargo Egypt and PIA. From 1978-1984 she became N860FT with Flying Tigers and was then sold in mid 1985 to UPS who converted her to DC-8-71F configuration. Reregistered N701UP she served until August 2008.
TIA's growth continued into the 70s with the takeover of Universal and Saturn - two other supplementals. By 1977 the fleet included 9 L-188 Electras, 11 Hercules, 9 DC-8-61/63s and 3 DC-10s. A lot of the fleet was leased out or operated military contracted charters worldwide.
Trans International's Electra's were all ex-KLM aircraft. N954U (see below) was originally PH-LLD ‘Jupiter’ with KLM delivered to them on 16/12/59. She spent most of 1961 with Air Ceylon on lease and was sold to Universal Airlines in Feb 1969 when she was converted to a freighter. She joined Trans International when they took over Universal’s assets in 1976. After Transamerica service she had a short lease with Interstate Airlines before passing to Galaxy Airlines in July 1984. Sadly she was written off in January 1985 at Dobbins Air Force Base when the right gear jammed and she veered off the runway.
Trans International was renamed Transamerica in October 1979 just prior to the start of scheduled transatlantic services from New York to Amsterdam via Shannon. Several 747s were added for these routes but despite being profitable Transamerica Corp decided to divest itself of all non financial assets, due to its own lack of profitability, and the airline was wound up in 1986 - no doubt for a profit!
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: