I am a major fan not only of Chinese airlines but also obscure airlines so an obscure Chinese airline is surely too good to pass up, especially when it has been represented in 400 scale twice by, that other lover of obscure airliners, Aeroclassics. Air Great Wall was one of many small airlines that appeared after the decentralisation of the Chinese air carrier market, but although some smaller carriers would grow into majors many others were swallowed up by the big three.
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.
The growth of air travel in the USA was such that by the mid-60s there was an increasing role for third-level operators to pick-up short hops from the local service airlines, who only a few years earlier had themselves been picking them up from the trunk airlines. Now they had replaced their DC-3s with gleaming BAC One-Elevens and Douglas DC-9s and a new breed of small operator was stepping in. One of the most successful of these new contenders was Air Wisconsin, which within 18 years was itself a jet operator.
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: