American Airlines is renowned for keeping its classic Red, White and Blue scheme from 1968-2013 but the livery before it didn't have such a long-term impact. Whilst investigating some aspects of American's history I chanced across some more information on the Astrojet scheme that pre-dated the 1968 livery and so I thought I'd pull together a quick post on the topic.
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.
Lockheed's L-1011 Tristar had a long, complicated and varied career with British Airways, and its charter arm British Airtours (later Caledonian Airways). They also had an equally complicated ordering process. Despite, at least initially, lacking the range for longer routes the full-length Tristars served BA well and were at the forefront of making it ‘The World’s Favourite Airline’ during the 1980s.
The success of the 737 has been immense but at the time of its development it had a mountain to climb. It would be United Airlines, more than any other, that Boeing has to thank for getting the type past its rough early years to where it is today and the ‘Fat Little Ugly Fella’ i.e. FLUF certainly put in the hard yards over the years for United.
At the end of the 60s the age of the widebody was fast approaching and all the major US airlines were on a new equipment binge. The 747 was the first new widebody and everyone felt they had to have some or suffer the consequences of being left behind. In fact all the trunk airlines operated Jumbos (except for Northeast and Western) although, considering only Pan Am, Northwest and TWA had international routes, they mostly lacked sensible ways to utilise them. Eastern, unusually, went down a more considered path than everyone else but still ended up with 747s for a time.
The A320 recently became the most produced family of jet airliners in history, however the type had a slightly rocky start in Australia. Initially it looked like both TAA and Ansett would purchase the new Airbus but in the end Ansett were the only one of the two big domestics to take the plunge.
Nothing has changed the face of aviation in the last 25 years as much as the advent of low-cost carriers. Pioneered in the US, with PSA and Southwest, it wasn’t until the advent of the internet that the premise could really take-off. Combined with deregulation of the EU area it has been Europe that has led the transformation, and of course it is Ryanair and Easyjet that have dominated the continent.
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.
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: