TWA History

Trans World Airlines


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Death Of A Legend

"A time line through the years up to 2001"




July 13, 1925
Western Air Express (WAE) is incorporated. WAE would merge with Transcontinental Air Transport to form "TW&A" 
Jack Frye, Walter Hamilton and Paul E. Richter founded Aero Corporation. “Aero” was a distributor for Eaglerock airplanes, with sales of sixty planes in the first year of operation. They also offered flight training and charter flights.
Standard Airlines created as a subsidiary of Aero Corporation.
November 28, 1927
Standard Air Lines began operations as Arizona’s first interstate and intrastate scheduled air carrier with first round-trip scheduled passenger air service between Los Angeles-Phoenix-Tucson (with president Jack Frye as first pilot).
February 4, 1929
Standard Air Lines (passenger subsidiary of Aero) launches "First" U. S. Coast-to-Coast Transcontinental plane-train passenger service from Los Angeles-El Paso-St. Louis-New York (new stops of Douglas and El Paso added).
July 7, 1929
Transcontinental Air Transport (TAT) inaugurates coast-to-coast air and rail service on route laid out by Col. Charles Lindbergh from New York to Los Angeles (Glendale) via Columbus, Ohio; Indianapolis, Indiana; St. Louis and Kansas City, Missouri; Wichita, Kansas; Waynoka, Oklahoma; Clovis and Albuquerque, New Mexico; and Winslow and Kingman, Arizona. 
August 4, 1929
Standard Air Lines, Inc. launches luxury Fokker tri-motored air passenger service.
March 1930 
Standard Airlines sold to Western Air Express. Part of the sale agreement was Frye would join Western Air Express on the Board of Directors and as Chief of Operations.
October 1, 1930
The "TWA" brand is born when TAT and WAE merge to form Transcontinental and Western Air, Inc. which was known as T&WA October 25, 1930
T&WA inaugurates coast-to-coast all-air service. The cross-country journey takes 36 hours, including an overnight stop in Kansas City. 
Summer, 1931
T&WA relocates its headquarters from New York to Kansas City. 
August 6, 1931
T&WA inaugurates the first air cargo service in the U.S. with a shipment of livestock from St. Louis to Newark. 
September 20, 1932
T&WA and Douglas Aircraft sign a contract for development of a revolutionary new all-metal twin-engine airliner, dubbed the Douglas Commercial Model 1 (DC-1)
December, 1933
The first and only Douglas DC-1 ever built, the first of the legendary line of Douglas Aircraft planes is delivered to T&WA.
May 18, 1934
The Douglas DC-2, the production version of the DC-1 and forerunner of the DC-3, enters commercial service on T&WA's Columbus-Pittsburgh-Newark route.
December 27, 1934
Jack Frye is named President of T&WA and Paul Richter is named Vice President. Over the next 12 years T&WA will grow from Tri-Motors to Constellations and emerge as a major world airline.
December 6, 1935
First T&WA "air hostesses" begin flying aboard the DC-2.
June 1, 1937
Sleeper berths are introduced in T&WA service.
Howard Hughes acquires control of T&WA. Although never holding an official position with the airline, he will own and control TWA for the next 25 years.
T&WA offers the first-ever in-flight audio entertainment, providing individual receivers to passengers to listen to commercial radio programs.
July 8, 1940
Boeing 307 Stratoliner service is inaugurated by T&WA providing coast-to- coast travel in 13 hours, 40 minutes. The Stratoliner is the first pressurized, all- weather commercial airliner.
April 17, 1944
Howard Hughes and T&WA President Jack Frye pilot a new Lockheed 049 Constellation from Burbank, California, to Washington, DC, in 6 hours 57 minutes, setting a new cross-country speed record.
February 5, 1946
T&WA begins transatlantic service with the Lockheed Constellation flying the New York-Gander-Shannon-Paris route. Later that year, T&WA adds service to Rome, Athens, Cairo, Lisbon, and Madrid.
March 31, 1946
Inauguration of T&WA's international service to Rome, Athens and Cairo.
May 1, 1946
Inauguration of T&WA's international service to Lisbon and Madrid.
January 30, 1947
Inauguration of transatlantic all-cargo service. This was the first regularly scheduled direct all-cargo service ever operated over the North Atlantic.
October 1, 1948
Inauguration of all-sleeper luxury service from New York to Paris, known as the "Paris Sky Chief," and from Paris to New York, known as the "New York Sky Chief."
T&WA's corporate name is officially changed to Trans World Airlines, TWA.
July, 1951
The Missouri River floods at Kansas City, extensively damaging the TWA overhaul base at Kansas City, Kansas, Fairfax Municipal Airport. In the aftermath of the flood TWA and Kansas City begin development of a new, flood-proof TWA overhaul base and a new international airport north of the city.
May 31, 1952
The first TWA Ambassadors Club opens, at Greater Pittsburgh Airport.
October 19, 1953
TWA begins the first non-stop eastbound scheduled transcontinental service with Super Constellations. The flight from Los Angeles to New York took 8 hours. Because of prevailing head winds, westbound transcontinental service continued to stop in Chicago to refuel.
Most TWA executive offices are relocated to New York. Training, maintenance and engineering and administrative functions remain in Kansas City.
January 3, 1957
TWA is the first airline to offer passengers freshly-brewed coffee in flight.
TWA occupies its new $25 million maintenance and overhaul base at Mid- Continent International Airport, Kansas City. Fifteen years later, in 1972, commercial air service for the Kansas City region is relocated from TWA's long-time home at Municipal Airport to Mid- Continent, which is renamed Kansas City International Airport.
September 29, 1957
TWA launches polar route service from Los Angeles to London with the 1649A Constellation.
January, 1958
The first edition of Ambassador Magazine is published.
March 20, 1959
TWA initiates jet service from San Francisco to New York, using the Boeing 707-131.
June 30, 1961
TWA files $115 million damage suit against Howard Hughes and the Hughes Tool Company, alleging violations of the Sherman Act and Clayton anti-monopoly acts.
July 19, 1961
TWA introduces in-flight motion pictures. The first feature: "By Love Possessed," starring Lana Turner.
May, 1962
The Trans World Flight Center at Idlewild (later John F. Kennedy) International Airport, New York, is opened.
October 1, 1962
TWA inaugurates the fully automated, Doppler radar system of navigation on scheduled transatlantic flights. The New York to London flight was the first transatlantic flight (commercial or military) ever operated without a professional navigator aboard.
June 1, 1964
TWA inaugurates Boeing 727 service.
May 3, 1965
Howard Hughes liquidates his TWA share holdings, selling 6,584,937 shares and netting $546.5 million.
October 4-5, 1965
Pope Paul VI returns to Rome on a TWA special charter flight after his historic visit to New York.
April 6, 1967
The last TWA Constellations is retired from passenger service. TWA becomes the first U.S. airline to go all-jet.
August 1, 1969
TWA inaugurates transpacific and round- the-world service.
December 3, 1969
The Breech Training Academy opens in the Kansas City suburb of Overland Park, Kansas.
February 25, 1970
TWA inaugurates Boeing 747 scheduled service nonstop from Los Angeles to New York. TWA is the first airline to offer 747 service in the U.S.
July 1, 1970
TWA becomes the first airline to offer no- smoking sections aboard every aircraft in its fleet.
November 1, 1970
TWA introduces new Business Class Ambassador Service providing a "whole new way to fly," and featuring "twin seat" accommodations on transcontinental routes.
June 25, 1972
TWA inaugurates Lockheed 1011 service. The first flight, operating from St. Louis to Los Angeles, is flown on autopilot from takeoff to landing.
January 1, 1979
Trans World Corporation is formed. Subsidiary companies will include Trans World Airlines, Canteen Corporation, Hilton International, Spartan Food Service and Century 21 Real Estate.
December 3, 1982
TWA operates its first Boeing 767 flight, from Los Angeles to Washington's Dulles airport.
November, 1983
TWA is spun off from Trans World Corporation as a new public company.
TWA launches its first transatlantic service with the Boeing 767 wide-body, the industry's first ETOPS (extended- range twin-engine operations) service.
June 14, 1985
Shiite gunmen seize a TWA airliner and force it to Beirut, Lebanon. A U.S. Navy diver was killed and 39 Americans held hostage for 17 days.
September 26, 1985
Carl Icahn acquires control of TWA.
October 26, 1986
TWA acquires Ozark Airlines and merges Ozark into TWA's operations.
September 10-21, 1987
Pope John Paul II travels on a specially configured TWA 727 and 747, accompanied by two chartered L-1011's.
September 7, 1988
At a special meeting, TWA stockholders approve Carl Icahn's proposal to take the company private. The privatization takes $610.3 million out of TWA -- of which $469 million goes to Icahn -- and adds $539.7 million to TWA's debt.
Carl Icahn moves TWA headquarters from 605 Third Avenue to his own building in Mt. Kisco, New York.
July 1, 1991
Carl Icahn sells TWA's route authorities from New York, Los Angeles, Boston and Chicago to London to American Airlines for $445 million.
January 31, 1992
TWA files a petition for reorganization under Chapter 11 of the Federal Bankruptcy Code.
May 1, 1992
Carl Icahn sells TWA's route authorities from Philadelphia and Baltimore to London to USAir for $50 million. TWA retains St. Louis-London route.
May 1, 1992
TWA opens the Constellation Club in its John F. Kennedy International Airport terminal as a luxury lounge for full fare Ambassador and First Class Transatlantic passengers.
August 24, 1992
TWA and the TWA Creditors' Committee announce the signing of agreements in principle with TWA's three major unions for concessions in exchange for a 45% equity stake in the airline.
January 8, 1993
Carl Icahn resigns as chairman of TWA, relinquishing all control and interest. The direction of TWA is placed in the hands of a two-man Management Committee (Co-Chief Executives) appointed by TWA employees, unions and creditors.
January 14, 1993
TWA inaugurates "Comfort Class" service, "the most comfortable way to fly," with extra leg room in the main cabin.
November 3, 1993
TWA completes Chapter 11 reorganization. The employees of TWA own 45 % of the airline upon emergence; creditors own the remaining 55 %. William R. Howard assumes the title of chairman of the board and CEO.
November 23, 1993
TWA receives the 1994 J.D. Power & Associates award as the #1 U.S. airline for customer satisfaction on long flights.
February, 1994
TWA relocates its corporate headquarters from Mt. Kisco, New York, to St. Louis.
April, 1994
Jeffrey H. Erickson is named president and chief operating officer (later named chief executive officer).
March 15, 1995
TWA introduces Trans World One, its enhanced international business class.
June-August, 1995
TWA files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and successfully completes a second financial reorganization within two months.
August 31,1995
TWA becomes the name sponsor of St. Louis' new NFL stadium, the Trans World Dome.
October, 1995
Pope John Paul II travels to Newark, Baltimore and Rome on a specially configured TWA 767-300 aircraft on the final leg of a week-long visit to the U.S.
October, 1995
TWA introduces a distinctive new aircraft livery.
February 12, 1996
TWA announces plans to acquire 20 new 757-200 aircraft, the airline's first major new aircraft acquisition program since before the Icahn era.
June 24, 1996
TWA opens a new state-of-the art reservations center in Norfolk, Virginia. The facility utilizes object-based PC reservations format for computer systems.
July 16, 1996
TWA announces an order for 15 new MD- 83 series aircraft from McDonnell Douglas.
July 17, 1996
TWA Flight 800 from New York to Paris crashes shortly after takeoff, killing all 230 passengers aboard.
Feb. 12, 1997
Gerald L. Gitner is named Chairman and Chief Executive Officer.
May 14, 1997
TWA announces second daily round-trip flight between St. Louis and London.
November, 1997
Royal Jordanian Airline and TWA begin code-share service between the U.S., the Netherlands and Jordan. TWA is the first U.S. airline to offer direct service to Amman. 
December 31, 1997
TWA finishes the year ranked #2 for domestic on-time arrivals as reported to the U.S. Department of Transportation for the year, up from #10 in 1996.
January, 1998
TWA introduces Trans World First, its new domestic first class service, featuring a 60% expansion of the number of first class seats in the narrow-body fleet.
February, 1998
TWA introduces TWQ, its new high- frequency business market service.
February 20, 1998
TWA retires the last of its Boeing 747 "jumbo jets" The newer and more efficient Boeing 767 wide-body is now the airline's main intercontinental aircraft.
April 22, 1998
TWA announces an order for 24 MD-83 twinjets, all to be delivered during 1999.
May 1, 1998
TWA launches AviatorsSM, its new frequent traveler program.
May 12, 1998
TWA receives the 1998 J.D. Power & Associates/ Frequent FlyerMagazine award as the #1 U.S. airline for customer satisfaction on flights of more than 500 miles.
October 21, 1998
TWA announces the acquisition of four Boeing 757s and one Boeing 767-300ER, giving TWA a fleet of 27 757-200s and 5 767-300ERs by January 2000.
December 9, 1998
TWA announces the largest aircraft order in company history for 125 B717s, A328s and A320 family aircraft plus options on 125 additional aircraft. 
January 27, 1999
TWA once again has the honor of carrying Pope John Paul II home from St. Louis to Rome.
May 11, 1999
TWA receives the 1999 J.D.Power & Associates/Frequent Flyer Magazine award as the #1 U.S. airline for customer satisfaction on flights of less than 500 miles.
May 25, 1999
Captain William F. Compton becomes Chief Executive Officer. Gerald Gitner remains Chairman.
July 28, 1999
TWA and Trans States Airlines renew their marketing and code-sharing alliance which provides Trans World Express regional service at TWA’s St. Louis hub.
October 11, 1999
TWA records its 50th day of 100 percent completion of schedule for 1999, far above previous annual records set in 1997 and 1998.
November 1, 1999
TWA makes San Juan, Puerto Rico the airline’s first "focus city." Operations from San Juan are increased to fifteen flights per day to eight destinations, plus Trans World Connection turboprop service (operated by Gulfstream International Airlines) to six Caribbean points beyond San Juan.
November 3, 1999
TWA announces plans to launch regional jet service by the summer of 2000 with a new marketing agreement with Indianapolis-based Chautauqua Airlines, which will provide Trans World Express RJ service.
November 18, 1999
TWA announces a major service expansion, adding 46 roundtrip flights per week including new or increased service on routes to the Caribbean, Mexico, Hawaii and the Middle East.
December 1, 1999
TWA and Kuwait Airways begin code-share service on Kuwait flights between Chicago, JFK and Kuwait City; and on TWA flights beyond JFK and Chicago.
December 21, 1999
TWA and Boeing close out a 67-year era of partnership as the airline takes delivery of the last twin-engine transport to bear the Douglas name, an MD-83 christened "Spirit of Long Beach." TWA placed the initial order for a Douglas twin – the DC-1, built to order for TWA – in 1932.
February 2000 
TWA takes delivery of the first of a new breed of twin-engine airliner, the Boeing 717-200. TWA has orders for 50 717-200s with options for 50 more.
July 2000 
TWA celebrates its 75th Anniversary.
January 10, 2001
TWA files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection for a third time and agrees to sell most of its assets to American Airlines. The sale, which is subject to approval by the bankruptcy court, brings an end to the financially troubled TWA, whose roots can be traced back 75 years. 
(This bankruptcy was filed for the benefit of American Airlines taking over TWA.)
July 1, 2003
TWA Ceased all flight operations as an LLC under American Airlines.
September 24, 2010
American Airlines closed the KCAC Overhaul Base

Updated Aug 18, 2014
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