Despite introducing 727s and swallowing several smaller Alaskan operators, the early 1970s was another difficult time for Alaska Airlines, which had been leading a hand to mouth existence for many years. Led by the wheeler dealing, but also irascible and dictatorial, Charles "Chuck" Willis Alaska had a mountain of debt, poor reputation and very little cash. Change was needed if the airline was to survive.
Alaska Airlines had improved its situation in the 1970s but found itself once again in a precarious financial position just as deregulation came into view. Considering its small size, financial weakness, lack of penetration into the lower 48 and turbulent history it is surprising that it was able to turn itself into one of the few winners of the post-deregulation era. The first step was cracking the Californian market.
By 1970 Nordair was well-established as one of the five regulated regional airlines providing a variety of services both charter and scheduled. In the latter area Nordair had in 1969 been assigned Ontario, aside from the Northwest of the province, and Northwest Quebec as its area of scheduled operations to feed the routes of Air Canada and CP Air. The assignment of specific areas of operations allowed Nordair and the other four regional airlines to plan for growth and acquire modern aircraft.
During the 1960s the local service airlines of the United States were growing fast. Not only were they re-equipping their fleets but they were being assigned large numbers of routes by the CAB that had been discarded by the larger airlines. Meanwhile Boeing, Douglas and BAC were keen to sell as many of their new short-haul jets as possible. Boeing even managed to interest several airlines in its medium sized 727 and one of these was Frontier. Like most of the local service airlines however the 727 was still too much jet for their 1960s network.
Pan Am throughout its history operated a diverse and expansive route network that covered most of the globe at one time or another. It is renowned for its operations with flying boats, Stratocruisers, 707s and 747s but operated a variety of much shorter ranged aircraft as well, especially on the vital Internal German Services from West Berlin. One of these types was the 737-200, which came to Pan Am during a difficult period.
The switch from using Berlin Templehof to Berlin Tegel on September 1, 1975 concentrated all the remaining IGS routes at the more distant airport. Although the fleets dedicated to the IGS routes of both Pan Am and British Airways were reduced from their heyday they were still important to both airlines. The 1980s would bring about a rebirth of competition that would challenge the status quo until the reunification of Germany itself made the IGS obsolete.
IGS operations had been a close battle between Pan Am and BEA, with Air France always a distant third, despite their Caravelle service to Tegel. Flying into Templehof was what mattered and Pan Am had managed to counter the introduction of turboprop Viscounts with frequency and the lower costs of the DC-6Bs. 1966 would see Pan Am turn the tables as it introduced the first regular jet service into Templehof on IGS routes.
By 1958 Berlin had been served by the airlines of the victorious Western powers for a decade. Operations had settled down to a routine whereby Pan Am, BEA and Air France could compete against each other normally even though the political situation surrounding Berlin was just as volatile as ever. Pan Am had the edge with its Douglas DC-6Bs but that would all change in 1958 as BEA upped the competitive pressure with its own prop-jets.
The carving up of Germany after the end of World War Two led to the unfortunate scenario whereby the nation was permanently partitioned, as the Western allies and Soviets became protagonists in the immediate postwar era. This was especially challenging for the former capital city of Berlin, which although itself split into zones, allotted to the victorious powers, was as a whole deeply situated within the Soviet zone. As a result, it would become the front-line of the Cold War and also have its own unique civil aviation arrangements.
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: