The first services were flown with a pair of Ford Trimotors leased from Cubana. The fleet increased with the addition of ex-military DC-3s and C-46s - the latter starting a one way route between Santo Domingo and San Juan carrying refrigerated meat (the return leg had to be flown empty). It wasn't until 1955 that permission was granted to connect the Dominican capital with Miami - a service that uniquely used C-46s fitted out with one arm bandits (gambling machines) onboard!
Dominicana entered the jet age by initially deciding to use a single BAC One-Eleven 400 which was painted into their colours but never delivered. Instead a single DC-9-15 was leased from Douglas in December 1968 which itself was replaced by the carrier's own DC-9-32 a year later. Unfortunately this aircraft's service was short-lived as it crashed on take-off at Santo Domingo on February 15, 1970 killing all 102 onboard. The aircraft was not replaced and it wasn't until June 1971 that another jet joined - this time a Pan Am 707 on lease to operate the new New York service. The 707s (two were leased at different times) lasted only until April 1972 when a secondhand 727-51 was leased. Three further 727-100s joined in the 1970s as well as a single 727-2J1 bought new in May 1975. The 1970s can be seen as the airline's highlight - a time when it had a modern fleet and good levels of service.
The airline's situation continued to deteriorate in the late 1980s. The 747 was returned in 1987 and the airline struggled to service its own 727 fleet leading to aircraft being leased in in their place. The carrier lurched into the 1990s, however in 1993 a Conair A300 was leased for the vital New York service. The arrangement only lasted for four months though and Dominicana was forced to revert to its 727s which being payload restricted on this route led to lots of left behind baggage. A further loss of faith in the airline in 1994 forced Dominicana to wet-lease aircraft from TAESA, but even this arrangement could not be kept up.
By Christmas 1994 Dominicana was in a sorry state. A promised A300 never turned up and the single 727 couldn't service all three remaining routes leading to chaos at Santo Domingo. A Tristar was repeatedly leased to assist in cleaning up the mess but by 1995 the US authorities imposed such restrictions that the US routes were dropped and in April the government shutdown the airline - temporarily. This temporary shutdown became permanent and Dominicana never flew again. The airline's sole 707 'Puerto Plata' was abandoned at Santo Domingo and was derelict by 1997. She was still present in 2003 surrounded by long grass and in a sorry state still wearing her red and blue quarters livery (representative of the national flag). She remains a disappointing epitaph for a proud national carrier with a long history.
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: