Trans International had been sold by its creator Kirk Kerkorian in 1968 to the financial services giant Transamerica Corp, who was diversifying its business into such varied areas as movie distribution, manufacturing, car rentals as well as airlines. Trans Internatinal expanded by purchasing other supplemental airlines like Universal and Saturn but as with many others deregulation gave it the chance to have a go at meatier fare than military charters and freight hauling. It was certainly not satisifed with being the world's largest charter airline alone.
The 747s also operated to Hawaii as Transamerica had a deal with Pleasant Hawaiian Holidays. The routing was rather oddly STL-DFW-LAX-HNL and operated westbound on Tuesdays and Saturdays. The 747s could also be seen operating to Tahiti from Los Angeles.
In the end though the airline side of the business appeared to be struggling for profitability it looks like it was the airline's parent that initiated the carrier's demise. Transamerica signalled in early 1986 that it was divesting of non-core (i.e. not finance related) assets which not surprisingly included the airlines. The carriers were put up for sale and though there was some interest, from a New York investment firm called Meridian Partners and an investor group of employees, no deals were consummated and Transamerica services ceased on September 30, 1986. It meant the layoff of the airline's 1,150 staff and was seen at the time as a gamble to force a deal through. Regardless the airline's components were worth more than $300 million so it is likely that a profit was made on the carrier's bones.
It was a sad end for an airline with a long history, however in hindsight it was probably the right one as there was little future in the type of operations Transamerica ran, especially without a unified workforce and management. The airline's first 747, N741TV, was sold to Cargolux in January 1987 as LX-ACV. In March 1999 she joined Atlas Air as N538MC but only nine months later she was sold to CAL Cargo Airlines of Israel as 4X-ICL. She was stored in December 2008 and broken up in April 2011 at Tel Aviv.
Timetables images from http://www.timetableimages.com
TIA/TAA Exemployees Group
UPI Archives. 1982, June. The Association of Flight Attendants threatened to strike Transamerica
Sing, B. 1986, August. Transamerica Airlines to Halt Operations : Carrier Unable to Find Satisfactory Buyer; 1,150 Layoffs Expected. LA Times
Aeromoes Fleets Transamerica
Norwood, Tom. Deregulation Knockouts Part One
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: