Anyway by 1975 Lebanon’s position as the ‘Paris of the East’ and as a major transfer hub was in tatters thanks to the civil war. Jordan’s King Hussein, as well as being an incredibly savvy ruler was also a major aviation enthusiast and indeed an accomplished pilot, who sometimes flew Alia aircraft. I don’t doubt that he had a strong hand in the expansion of Alia into long-haul routes.
At the end of 1979 the airline Alia ordered its second widebody type – the Lockheed L-1011 Tristar 500 with an order for 5 aircraft valued at 142 million British pounds. In the meantime a third 747 was added in March 1981 (partly to operate a new Chicago service) although clearly the smaller Tristars were better suited to the airline’s route network. A further pair of 707s had been added in 1979 but the Tristars and four additional new 727-2D3s would signal the replacement of the venerable Boeing jets in passenger service at least.
The carrier continued to be successfully profitable making over 2 million British pounds in 1980 and a 60% increase in profits to 3.2 million GBP in 1981. Load factors sat satisfactorily at 65% for European services, 78% for the Gulf and Far Eastern routes and 70% to the USA.
Despite this success both the Chicago and Houston add-ons to the New York route were dropped in 1982, the same year that the airline finally decided on its new livery. Indeed the new Tristar 500s, which had begun to enter service in September 1981 had been delivered in a new scheme which never quite fully caught on. Several variants were tried prior to the fleetwide adoption of a scheme approved under the theme of ‘Jordanian Regality’. The livery had a red lower fuselage separated from the cream cabin roof by triple cheatlines coloured in black, red and green. The tailfin displayed a central golden crown over a red background. The new scheme was applied fleetwide although at least one of the 747s (JY-AFS) skipped this scheme completely.
The new livery signaled the adoption of a drastic overhaul of the airlines identity as it shed the Alia and became simply Royal Jordanian Airlines. The lower fuselage was white with a dark charcoal grey upper half split by thin gold and red cheatlines. The Hashemite crown remained on the tail in gold but now on a background of grey with black tapered speed bands behind it up the rudder and a red banded tail top.
Nonetheless by the end of 1989 Royal Jordanian was serving 5 destinations in Asia (Delhi, Calcutta, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore) and 5 in North America (New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami and Montreal) alongside 35 others. With a new young fleet the carrier was well placed to continue to showing the crown of Jordan into the 1990s and beyond.
Birtles, P.J. Modern Civil Aircraft: 8 Lockheed Tristar. Ian Allan
Henderson, S. Boeing 747-100/200 In Camera Vol 2. Scoval Press
Shaw, R. Airline Markings 4: Airbus A300 & A310
World Airline Colours: Aviation Data Centre
1989 Jordanian Protests. Wikipedia
Utopia BlogSpot: Royal Jordanian Pt4 1977-1989
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: