Managing the seasonal nature of the charter airline business has historically led to several airlines switching capacity across the Atlantic in the Winter with lease agreements whereby their aircraft get a winter in North America and a summer back in the UK. Air Europe had such an agreement with Air Florida between 1980/81 and 1982/83 but the failure of the American airline led to a more unusual arrangement with the British flag carrier that not only saw Air Europe swap aircraft but also acquire its first 757s from British Airways order backlog.
One Air America is well known as the CIA's own private airline and was of course immortalised in a rather inaccurate Mel Gibson movie of the early 90s, but less well known is that around that time the end had come for another Air America. This one wasn't running guns for the CIA but did undertake quite a few MATS charters for the US military. This second Air America was one of many ultimately unsuccessful deregulation startups of the 1980s.
âThe first five years of Republic Airlines existence had not been kind. This was largely due to the disastrous Hughes Airwest takeover, but Republic had also been assaulted in its East-coast markets by deregulation startups and failed to innovate. That cost the existing CEO his job and would see the employment of Stephen Wolf who would take drastic measures to keep the airline afloat.
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.
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.
The Boeing 757 is renowned for having some grunt, which is one of the reasons it has gained a second life on transatlantic duties. It also makes it ideal for operating in hot and high destinations where the thin air makes thrust important. The Western regions of China include the foothills of the Himalayas right up to the Tibetan plateau and the 757 proved its worth in these challenging conditions.
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.
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: