Eastern struggled through the deregulation era, even prior to the Lorenzo led Texas Air takeover, however one of the few bright spots for EAL was the acquisition of the new Boeing 757-200, which proved itself a fine acquisition to the fleet right up until the airline’s final closure. Even so, despite the need for the type the introduction of the 757s coincided with the period that marked the beginning of the end of the 'Great Silver Fleet'.
By the time the design of the new Boeing 757 was finalized in 1979 it was clear it would be a big improvement over the 727-200 Advanced and yet some commentators were under the impression that with both the 757 and 767 Boeing was effectively competing against itself as much as against the Airbus A310. Initially sales seemed to give this a grain of truth but eventually the 757 would find its time had come.
The Boeing 727-200 Advanced was spectacularly successful during the 1970s but although orders were flooding in Boeing didn’t rest on its laurels and was looking for ways to improve the design. In the end the result wasn’t the initially designed stretched 727-300 but instead an all new jet, the 7N7, that was paired with its big brother the 7X7 to take on McDonnell Douglas and Airbus into the 1980s and 90s.
The Eastern Air Lines shuttle was a pioneering idea in the busy US North-east market offering no-reservation guaranteed seat service between the super busy business destinations of New York, Washington and Boston. There are few markets that can support such a concept but travel from the UK regions to the London Heathrow was always a good contender. In 1975 the new British Airways decided to see if it could replicate the massive success of Eastern’s shuttle in the UK.
America West was a strong supporter of several sports teams located near its hub operations and it was in fact one of these agreements which kicked off its repainting of its 757s into special schemes. The airline had signed a marketing agreement with the Phoenix Suns basketball team as early as 1989, which renamed their new stadium the America West Arena. It was their colours which were the first to be adopted, upon N907AW, and for many years the team flew an America West 737-100 for their away fixtures. It was the first of three sports team tie-ups, however the second special scheme adopted celebrated America West Airlines and its employees and was named Teamwork...
The mid-1980s was a time of significant growth for America West and only three years after starting operations they took on 6 nearly new 757-2S7s which had been delivered to Republic Airlines just prior to its takeover by Northwest. Of the fifteen Boeing 757s that would join America West only three would join them directly and be 757-2G7s. The other twelve were either ex-Republic 2S7s (6), ex-Eastern 225s (4), an ex-Odyssey Int 28A or an AWAS leased series 23A. Two other 757-2G7s ordered new from Boeing were cancelled following the carrier's bankruptcy in the early 90s and not built. Though it only had a relatively small fleet of 757s America West made sure that many of them caught the eye, as in the 1990s it began painting 8 of them into special liveries.
National Airlines (N7/ROK, Call sign: Red Rock) was the third airline that used the name, though it bore absolutely no connection to the original holder - the regulated era Trunk airline which operated from Florida primarily up the East Coast and later to Europe which was merged into Pan Am in late 1980. The second National Airlines was a short-lived charter airline that, not content with using the Overseas National name 'borrowed' from the then defunct long serving supplemental ONA, purchased the naming rights from Pan Am for the original National and planned to start up schedule service. It survived using the National name from 1983 to the end of 1985. The third National was a completely different beast and and set up its stall out West in Las Vegas. It only lasted three years itself but burnt brightly all the same.
On May 12 1997 Delta Air Lines CEO Ron Allen announced his resignation after ten years at the helm and 34 years at the airline. At the time the news seems to have been met with some shock especially as the airline refused to say why exactly he decided to leave.
The surprise was partly because the airline was firmly in the black by 1997 recording profits of around $900 million for the year which itself followed a record $662 million profit in 1996, whilst its stock was up 17% within a year. In retrospect however Allen's departure seems less of a surprise.
BA 757s were so common at Heathrow that it was hard to imagine that they would ever disappear. The 757 looked great in the Negus and Landor schemes but the low blue bottom never seemed to suit the 97 colours and the black nose ring most BA 757s had made them look worse. BA should have really curved off the blue belly like Delta did with the 2001 scheme - that would have preserved the beauty of the 757.
Anyway British Airways was launch customer for the Boeing 757 and went on to operate over 50 of the type on their European and Shuttle services, replacing their Tridents.
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: