Pan American World Airways

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Image:PanAm logo.png Pan American World Airways, commonly known as Pan Am, was the principal international airline of the United States from the 1930s until its collapse in 1991. Originally founded as a seaplane service out of Key West, Florida, the airline became a major company credited with many innovations that shaped the international airline industry, including the widespread use of jet aircraft, jumbo jets, and computerized reservation systems. Identified by its blue globe logo and the use of the word "Clipper" in aircraft names and call signs, the airline was a cultural icon of the 20th century, and the unofficial flag carrier of the United States.[1]

Pan Am went through two reincarnations after 1991. The second Pan Am operated from 1996 to 1998 with a focus on low-cost, long-distance flights between the U.S. and the Caribbean. The current incarnation, based in Portsmouth, New Hampshire and known as the Pan Am "Clipper Connection," is operated by Boston-Maine Airways. The airline currently flies to destinations in the northeastern United States, Florida, and Puerto Rico. Pan Am still uses the IATA code PA and the ICAO code PAA, though the current incarnation has no relationship to the original Pan Am. It also has no relationship to the second incarnation of the mid-1990s.

Contents

History

Formation

Image:Tran12G7.jpg Pan American Airways Incorporated was founded on March 14 1927, by Major Henry H. "Hap" Arnold and partners. Their shell company was able to obtain the U.S. mail delivery contract to Cuba, but lacked the physical assets to do the job. A few months later, on June 2, 1927, Juan Trippe formed the Aviation Corporation of America with the backing of powerful and politically-connected financiers William A. Rockefeller, Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney, and others; Whitney served as the company's president. Their operation had the all-important landing rights for Havana, having acquired a small airline established in 1926 by John K. Montgomery and Richard B. Bevier as a seaplane service from Key West, Florida to Havana. The Atlantic, Gulf, and Caribbean Airways company was established on October 11, 1927, by New York City investment banker Richard Hoyt, who served as president. The three companies merged into a holding company called the Aviation Corporation of the Americas on June 23 1928. Richard Hoyt was named as chairman of the new company, but Trippe and his partners held forty percent of the equity and Whitney was made president. Trippe became the operational head of the new Pan American Airways Incorporated, created as the primary operating subsidiary of Aviation Corporation of the Americas.

The U.S. government had approved the original Pan Am's mail delivery contract with little objection, out of fears that the German-owned Colombian carrier SCADTA would have no competition in bidding for routes between Latin America and the United States. The government further helped Pan Am by insulating it from its American competitors, seeing the airline as the "chosen instrument" for U.S. foreign air routes.[2] The airline expanded, due in part to its virtual monopoly on foreign airmail contracts.

Image:Miami PanAm Terminal 1944.jpg Trippe and his associates planned to extend Pan Am's network through all of Central and South America. During the late 1920s and early 1930s, Pan Am purchased a number of ailing or defunct airlines in Central and South America, and negotiated with postal officials to win most of the government's airmail contracts to the region. In September 1929, Trippe toured Latin America with Charles Lindbergh to negotiate landing rights in a number of countries, including SCADTA's home turf of Colombia. By the end of the year, Pan Am offered flights down the west coast of South America to Peru. The following year, Pan Am purchased the New York, Rio, and Buenos Aires Line (NYRBA), giving it a seaplane route along the east coast of South America to Buenos Aires, Argentina, and westbound to Santiago, Chile.

Pan Am's holding company, the Aviation Corporation of the Americas, was one of the hottest stocks on the New York Curb Exchange in 1929, and flurries of speculation surrounded each of its new route awards. On a single day in March, its stock rose 50% in value. Trippe and his associates had to fight off a takeover attempt by the United Aircraft and Transport Corporation to keep their control over Pan Am (UATC was the parent company of what are now Boeing, Pratt & Whitney, and United Airlines).

The Clipper era

Image:Sikorsky S42.jpg While Pan Am was developing its South American network, it negotiated with Britain and France to start a seaplane service between the United States and Europe. Britain's state-owned Imperial Airways was eager to cooperate with Pan Am, but France was less willing to help, because its state carrier Aéropostale was a major player in Latin America and a Pan Am competitor on some routes. Eventually, Pan Am reached an agreement with both countries to offer service from Norfolk, Virginia, to Europe via Bermuda and the Azores using Sikorsky S-40 flying boats. Pan Am also procured an airmail contract from Boston to Halifax.

Image:Martin model 130 China Clipper class passenger-carrying flying.jpg Pan Am planned to start land plane service over Alaska to Japan and China, and sent Lindbergh on a survey flight in 1930; however, the ongoing political upheaval in the Soviet Union and Japan made the route unviable. Trippe then decided to start a service from San Francisco to Honolulu, and from there to Hong Kong and Auckland following existing steamship routes. After negotiating rights in 1934 to land at Pearl Harbor, Midway Island, Wake Island, Guam, and Subic Bay, Pan Am shipped $500,000 worth of aeronautical equipment westward in March 1935 and ran its first survey flight to Honolulu in April with a Sikorsky S-42 flying boat. The airline won the contract for a San Francisco-Canton mail route later that year, running its first commercial flight in a Martin M-130 on November 22 to massive media fanfare. Later, Pan Am used Boeing 314 flying boats for the Pacific route: in China, passengers could connect to domestic flights on the Pan Am-operated China National Aviation Corporation (CNAC) network. The Boeing 314s were also used on transatlantic routes starting in 1939.

The "Clippers"—the name harking back to the 19th-century clipper ships—were the only American passenger aircraft of the time capable of intercontinental travel. To compete with ocean liners, the airline offered first-class seats on such flights, and the style of flight crews became more formal. Instead of being leather-jacketed, silk-scarved airmail pilots, the crews of the "Clippers" wore naval-style uniforms and adopted a set procession when boarding the airplane.[3] However, during World War II most of the Clippers were pressed into the military, with Pan Am flight crews operating the airplanes under contract. During this era, Pan Am pioneered a new air route across western and central Africa to Iran, and in early 1942, the airline became the first to operate a route circumnavigating the globe. Another first was in January 1943, when Franklin Roosevelt became the first U.S. president to fly abroad, in the Dixie Clipper.[4] It was also during this period that Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry was a Clipper pilot. He was aboard the Clipper Eclipse when it crashed in Syria on June 19, 1947.

Postwar developments

Image:Boeing 377.jpg After the war, Pan American's fleet was quickly replaced by faster airplanes, such as the Boeing 377, Douglas DC-6, and Lockheed Constellation. Although Pan Am lobbied intensively to enhance its position as the nation's international airline, it lost that distinction—first to American Overseas Airways, and later to a number of carriers designated to compete with Pan Am in certain markets, such as TWA to Europe, Braniff to South America, and Northwest Orient to East Asia.[5] In 1950, shortly after starting an around-the-world service and developing the concept of "economy class" passenger service, Pan American Airways, Inc. was renamed Pan American World Airways, Inc.

With strong competition on many of its routes, Pan Am began investing in innovations such as jet and wide-body airplanes. Pan Am purchased the DC-8 and the Boeing 707, which Boeing modified to seat six passengers across instead of five under pressure from Pan Am. The airline inaugurated transatlantic jet service from New York to Paris on October 26, 1958, with a Boeing 707 named the Clipper America.[6] Pan Am was a launch customer of the Boeing 747, with about 25 orders in April 1966,[7] and was the first to operate scheduled 747 service in 1970. The airline was also one of the first three airlines to sign options for the Concorde, but like other airlines that took out options—with the exception of British Overseas Airways Corporation and Air France—it did not actually purchase the supersonic jet. It was also a potential customer for the abandoned Boeing 2707, the American supersonic project that never saw service.

In the 1950s, Pan Am diversified into other areas. Some of the businesses that Pan Am bought into included a hotel chain, the InterContinental Hotel, and a business jet, the Falcon. The airline was involved in creating a missile-tracking range in the South Atlantic, and in operating a nuclear-engine testing laboratory in Nevada.[8]

Image:Pan Am 707-SFO.jpg With traffic increasing in 1962, Pan Am commissioned IBM to build PANAMAC, a large computer that booked airline and hotel reservations. It also held large amounts of information about cities, countries, airports, aircraft, hotels, and restaurants. The computer came to occupy the fourth floor of the Pan Am Building, which was then under construction in Manhattan and was to be the largest commercial office building in the world for some time.

Pan Am also built "Worldport", a terminal building at John F. Kennedy International Airport that was the world's largest airline terminal for many years. It was distinguished by its elliptical, four-acre (16,000 m²) roof, suspended far from the outside columns of the terminal below by 32 sets of steel posts and cables. The terminal was designed to allow passengers to board and disembark via stairs without getting wet by parking the nose of the airplanes under the overhang. The introduction of the jetbridge made this feature obsolete.

At its peak, Pan Am was providing scheduled service to every continent except for Antarctica. Many of its routes were between New York, Europe, and South America, and between Miami and the Caribbean. Starting in 1964, the airline was providing helicopter service between New York's major airports and Manhattan.[9] Aside from the DC-8, the Boeing 707 and 747, the Pan Am jet fleet also included Boeing 720s, 727s (which replaced the 720s), 737s, and 747SPs, which allowed Pan Am to fly nonstop flights from New York to Tokyo. The airline also operated Lockheed L-1011s and later Airbus A300s.

The airline also participated in several notable humanitarian flights. Pan Am operated 650 flights a week between West Germany and West Berlin, first with the DC-6B and, in 1966, with the Boeing 727.[10] Pan Am also flew R&R (Rest and Recreation) flights during the Vietnam War. These flights carried American service personnel for R&R leaves in Hong Kong, Tokyo, and other Asian cities.

Downturn

Image:Pan Am 747 LAX.jpg The 1973 energy crisis hurt Pan Am. In addition to high fuel prices, low demand for air travel and an oversupply in the international air travel market (partly caused by federal route awards to other airlines, such as the Transpacific Route Case) reduced the number of passengers Pan Am carried as well as its profit margins. Like other major airlines Pan Am had invested in a large fleet of new 747s with the expectation that demand for air travel would continue to rise, which was not the case.

To remain competitive with other airlines, Pan Am began trying to make inroads in the U.S. domestic market. After several failed attempts to win approval for domestic routes, the enactment of airline deregulation finally allowed Pan Am to begin flights between its U.S. gateways in 1979. On the other hand, deregulation hurt Pan Am since the airline did not have a domestic route system beforehand, a result of Juan Trippe's focus on dominating the overseas market. Meanwhile, airlines with domestic routes were now competing with Pan Am on international routes as well.[11]

Under the direction of Chairman William Seawell, Pan Am grew a domestic-route network overnight by absorbing National Airlines in 1980. However, a bidding war caused Pan Am to pay far more than the actual value of National Airlines. The combined company continued to accumulate debt due to incompatible fleets (Pan Am had L-1011s with Rolls-Royce engines while National used DC-10s with GE engines), incompatible route networks (National's operations concentrated on Florida), and incompatible corporate cultures. Seawell attempted to save the airline by selling off some of its assets, including the Pan Am Building to MetLife in 1981 and the company's entire Pacific route network to United Airlines in 1985. The extra money was invested in new aircraft such as the Airbus A310 and Airbus A320, although the A320s were never delivered. The airline also started a shuttle service between Boston, New York, and Washington DC. Nevertheless, financial losses as well as criticism of poor services continued to plague Pan Am.

Pan Am's iconic image also made it a target for terrorists. In an attempt to convince the public that the airline was safe to fly with and to address lapses in its own security, Pan Am created a security system called Alert Management Systems in 1986. The new system did little to improve security. This was further exacerbated by financial concerns, in which the airline decided to keep security at a minimum so as to not inconvenience its passengers and lose business during departure. The FAA fined Pan Am for nineteen security failures, out of the 236 that were detected amongst twenty-nine airlines in December 1988.[12]

After the Lockerbie bombing, the airline finally fell apart. Many travelers avoided booking on Pan Am as they had begun to associate the airline with danger. Faced with a $300 million lawsuit filed by more than 100 families of the victims, the airline subpoenaed records of six U.S. government agencies, including the CIA, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the State Department. Though the records suggested that the U.S. government was aware of warnings of a bombing and failed to pass the information to the airline, the families claimed that Pan Am was attempting to shift the blame.[13]

In March 1991, the airline sold off its profitable London Heathrow routes, arguably Pan Am's biggest international destination, to United Airlines. This left Pan Am with its only London flights being two daily flights to Gatwick. The Gulf War brought transatlantic air traffic to a trickle and forced Pan Am to declare bankruptcy in August 1991. Delta Air Lines purchased the remaining profitable assets of Pan Am, including its remaining European routes and the Pan Am Worldport at JFK Airport, and injected some cash into a smaller Pan Am predominantly serving the Caribbean and Latin America. During that time, Pan Am continued to incur heavy losses. Its operations finally ended on December 4, 1991, when Delta cut off its support. The airline's last scheduled flight was Pan Am Flight 436 from Bridgetown, Barbados, to Miami. The plane was a Boeing 727 named the Clipper Goodwill. Pan Am's last remaining hub at Miami International Airport was split during the following years between United Airlines, who took most of the routes, and American Airlines, who took most of the terminal space.

Pan Am's resurrections

Pan Am II

A new investment group including Charles Cobb, the former Ambassador to Iceland, purchased the rights to the Pan American brand after the original carrier declared bankruptcy. In September 1996, Pan Am II was started with an Airbus A300 named the Clipper Fairwind. The goal was to provide low-cost, long-distance travel to major U.S. and Caribbean cities. The new airline was led by the last Vice Chairman and Chief Operations Officer of Pan Am, Marty Shugrue, who also helped in the creation of the Frequent Flyer program and who served as President of American Airlines and later trustee of the Eastern Airlines estate. Pan Am II soon merged with the troubled Carnival Airlines, but the rapid expansion and economic troubles of the two companies were too much for the new Pan Am II—it only survived for two years before declaring bankruptcy. Pan Am II ceased operations in 1998.

Pan Am III

In 1998, the Pan Am brand was sold to Guilford Transportation Industries, a railroad company headed by Tim Mellon of the Pittsburgh banking family. Guilford launched Pan American Airlines with a fleet of seven Boeing 727s. The third incarnation flew to nine cities in New England, Florida, the Canadian Maritimes and Puerto Rico. The focus was on secondary airports such as Orlando Sanford International Airport instead of Orlando International Airport, and Pease International Airport and Worcester Regional Airport instead of the crowded Logan International Airport in the Boston area. Pan Am later had cooperative service arrangements with Boston-Maine Airways.

Guilford ceased operating Pan Am on November 1, 2004, but operations were transferred to Boston-Maine Airways, which resumed 727 service under the Pan Am "Clipper Connection" name from February 17, 2005. In August 2005, a federal investigation into fraudulent financial data submitted by Boston-Maine Airways halted Pan Am's plans to expand its fleet and route system. At the same time, the airline pilot union had claimed that the airline was unfit to operate and urged the Department of Transportation to deny the airline's certification for expansion.[14] The airline later announced that it was suspending service from September 6 to November 16, citing rising fuel costs and decreased levels of booking.[15] In mid-October 2005, the airline suspended 727 flights indefinitely from several airports that it served, including its home base in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.[16]

Accidents and terrorist incidents

Pan Am planes were involved in 40 incidents, several of which were fatal.[17] The first occurred on July 16, 1932, when a Ford Trimotor crashed into a mountain in Vitacura, Chile. All nine people on board perished. The last fatal incident was Pan Am Flight 103 in 1988. The plane, a Boeing 747 named the Clipper Maid of the Seas, exploded in mid-flight over Lockerbie, Scotland, due to a bomb placed in its cargo hold by terrorists. All 259 passengers and crew on board were killed as well as 11 people on the ground. The disaster was a major blow to an already weakened airline.

Another Pan Am 747, the Clipper Victor, was involved in the Tenerife disaster on March 27, 1977, the worst disaster in aviation history (excepting the events of 9/11). The Victor, operating as a charter flight from Los Angeles to Las Palmas in the Canary Islands, was diverted to Tenerife due to a bomb at Las Palmas. A KLM 747 taking off without explicit permission collided with it on the runway. A total of 583 people were killed, 335 of them from the Pan Am plane. The incident led to reforms including improvements in communications between flight crews and ground control.

Pan Am experienced other fatal incidents that were the result of terrorism. On December 17, 1973, bombs were thrown by a Palestinian group into Pan Am Flight 110 (a 707 named the Clipper Celestial) in Rome, Italy. The airplane burned and thirty people were killed. A 747 named the Clipper Empress of the Seas, operating as Pan Am Flight 73, was hijacked on September 5, 1986. Twenty people were killed when the airplane was stormed on the ground in Karachi, Pakistan.

One of the accidents that involved a Pan Am plane led to the FAA's ordering the installation of safety devices on airplanes. A Pan Am 707, named the Clipper Tradewind and operating as Pan Am Flight 214, was in a holding pattern on a flight from Baltimore to Philadelphia when it was last seen going down in flames on December 8, 1963. It was determined that lightning had ignited vapors in the plane's fuel tanks. As a result of the disaster, lightning discharge wicks were installed on all commercial airliners.[18]

Pan Am in culture

Image:2001 Space Odyssey.jpg Pan Am held a lofty position in the popular culture of the Cold War era. One of the most famous images of the company was The Beatles' 1964 arrival at JFK Airport aboard a Pan Am Boeing 707-331, Clipper Defiance. In recent years, Guilford Transportation Industries has painted several of its boxcars with the Pan Am logo.[19]

During the Apollo program, Pan Am sold tickets for future flights to the moon. These later became valuable collector's items. A fictional Pan Am "Space Clipper," a commercial space shuttle called the Orion III, had a prominent role in Stanley Kubrick's film 2001: A Space Odyssey. It was also featured in the movie's poster.

The airline appeared in other movies, notably in several James Bond films. The company's Boeing 707s were featured in Dr. No and From Russia With Love, while a Pan Am 747 and the Worldport appeared in Live and Let Die. The airline's logo was featured in Licence To Kill, where James Bond checks in for a Pan Am flight that he ultimately doesn't board. The airline was also featured in an opening scene of the Robin Williams's film Hook, in which the family is aboard a Pan Am 747-100 to London. More recently, the airline was featured in the movie Catch Me If You Can. The battle between Juan Trippe and TWA owner Howard Hughes over Pan Am's transatlantic monopoly was featured prominently in The Aviator. The airline's logo was also seen in the film Blade Runner. Subsequently, Pan Am became one of the victims of the supposed Blade Runner curse on large corporations whose logos were featured in scenes from the film.

Notes

  1. ^ {{qif
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  1. ^ Bilstein, p. 79.
  2. ^ Gandt, p. 19.
  3. ^ Bilstein, p. 173.
  4. ^ Bilstein, p. 169.
  5. ^ Burns, George E. The Jet Age Arrives. Pan American Historical Foundation. Accessed August 13, 2005.
  6. ^ Boeing 747-400 Program Milestones. Boeing.com. Accessed August 27, 2005.
  7. ^ Ray, p. 184.
  8. ^ Burns, George E. The Jet Age Arrives. Pan American Historical Foundation. Accessed August 13, 2005.
  9. ^ Burns, George E. The Jet Age Arrives. Pan American Historical Foundation. Accessed September 6, 2005.
  10. ^ Ray, p. 185.
  11. ^ Ray, p. 187.
  12. ^ Ludtke, Melissa (November 20, 1989). Keeping Lockerbie Alive. Time Europe. Accessed August 20, 2005.
  13. ^ McCord, Michael (August 5, 2005). DOT begins probe of Pease airline. The Portsmouth Herald.
  14. ^ Huettel, Steve (August 13, 2005). Pan Am cancels flights for 2 months. St. Petersburg Times.
  15. ^ McCord, Michael. No more Pan Am flights at Pease (October 14, 2005). The Portsmouth Herald. Accessed November 1, 2005.
  16. ^ Pan Am's Accidents. PanAmAir.org. Accessed August 11, 2005.
  17. ^ Pan Am's Accidents. PanAmAir.org. Accessed August 11, 2005.
  18. ^ Pan Am: From air to railway (4-1-2005). The Portsmouth Herald.

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 |test={{{Pages|}}}
 |then=, {{{Pages}}}

}}{{qif

 |test={{{Publisher|}}}
 |then=, {{qif
   |test={{{Location|}}}
   |then={{{Location}}}: 
 }}Kendall Hunt

}}{{qif

 |test={{{ID|}}}
 |then=. ISBN 0757509444

}}.

  • {{qif
 |test={{{Authorlink|}}}
 |then={{wikilink
   |1={{{Authorlink}}}
   |2={{qif
     |test={{{Author|}}}
     |then=Ray, Sally J.
     |else={{{Last|}}}{{qif
       |test={{{First|}}}
       |then=, {{{First}}}
     }}
   }}
 }}
 |else={{qif
   |test={{{Author|}}}
   |then=Ray, Sally J.
   |else={{{Last|}}}{{qif
     |test={{{First|}}}
     |then=, {{{First}}}
   }}
 }}

}}{{qif

 |test={{{Coauthors|}}}
 |then=, {{{Coauthors}}}

}}{{qif

 |test={{{Date|}}}
 |then= ({{{Date}}})
 |else={{qif
   |test={{{Year|}}}
   |then={{qif
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     |then= ({{{Month}}} 1999)
     |else= (1999)
   }}
 }}

}}{{qif

 |test={{{Author|{{{Last|{{{Year|}}}}}}}}}
 |then=.

}}{{qif

 |test={{{Chapter|}}}
 |then= "Pan American World Airways Flight 103"

}}{{qif

 |test={{{Editor|}}}
 |then= {{{Editor}}}

}} {{qif

 |test={{{URL|}}}
 |then=[{{{URL}}} Strategic Communication in Crisis Management]
 |else=Strategic Communication in Crisis Management

}}{{qif

 |test={{{Others|}}}
 |then=, {{{Others}}}

}}{{qif

 |test={{{Edition|}}}
 |then=, {{{Edition}}}

}}{{qif

 |test={{{Pages|}}}
 |then=, 183-204

}}{{qif

 |test={{{Publisher|}}}
 |then=, {{qif
   |test={{{Location|}}}
   |then={{{Location}}}: 
 }}Quorum/Greenwood

}}{{qif

 |test={{{ID|}}}
 |then=. ISBN 1567201539

}}.

External links


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