The Pacific islands have a proud history of colourful flag carriers, however the majority of the region’s airlines have struggled with their remoteness, the limited investment capability of their home nations and competition from Australia and New Zealand. Polynesian Airlines’ history illustrates all three aspects during its history.
Hawaiian Airlines was faced with the same range of challenges in the deregulated 1980s as other legacy carriers - increased competition, deflated prices and the loss of its protected status. It responded with an unprecedented expansion, hoping to open up Honolulu as a transit hub on the one hand and a major charter player on the other. The strategy was far from a success but the airline just about survived.
European colonialism has left a bitter legacy in many African nations, but probably none has been so disgraceful and damaging as the Belgian influence in what has become the Democratic Republic of Congo. Independence did not bring the new chapter the Congolese wanted and instead the next 50 years have been as bad or worse than what went before. Nevertheless throughout this period a veneer of normalcy was provided by the national carrier Air Congo (later Air Zaire).
TACA had a complicated series of owners throughout its history, however these rarely stopped it from achieving and it was something of a trendsetter during the 50s and 60s as it introduced both the first prop-jets and true-jets in Central America. Its BAC One-Elevens would have long careers with it and form the backbone of its survival and success into the 1980s.
Nowadays Venezuela is in a sorry state, wracked by economic collapse, hyper-inflation and a dictatorial regime. The pathway to this has been long and complex and has gradually taken a toll of the airline’s once rich aviation scene, so that only a handful of airlines survive and connections with international destinations are sporadic. One of the highest profile failures was that of AVENSA who had started operations in 1943.
By the 1970s it had been years since the US majors had bought any foreign aircraft and the new Airbus consortium was struggling to sell its A300 to anybody, let alone the Americans. Eastern, cash-strapped and inefficient, needed a new aircraft and it was Frank Borman's airline that would give Airbus the opportunity that perhaps more than any allowed it to be taken seriously on the world stage.
Air Florida was, thanks to its President Ed Acker, one of the darlings of the first years of deregulation and exploded out of Florida with low fares and cheeky service in late 1978. Acker’s expansionist dreams would never be satisfied with just the USA and as well as trying to buy a selection of much larger airlines Air Florida also positioned itself for the long-haul. This is the story of their push across the Atlantic.
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: