Twa And Its Impact On The Aviation IndustryPresentation Transcript
TWA and Its Impact on the Aviation Industry Michael Sedwick
1925: The Beginning as Western Air Express
As with many of the big airlines, TWA started out not with passengers but with something just as important to the everyday affairs of the United States: The mail.
The Mail Air Act of 1925 (also known as the Kelly Act) allowed the government to hire private air carriers to fly the mail over long distances.
Two airlines, Transcontinental Air Transport, and Western Air Express, both flew the same routes with similar amounts of mail.
With the government seeing this setup as redundant, the postmaster general suggested that these two companies merge.
In 1930, the merge was completed and the newly formed company, Transcontinental and Western Air, soon established a cross country mail route that took only 36 Hours.
Soon after, the heads of TWA saw the opportunity to carry not only mail, but also passengers.
Howard Hughes: The Aviator
Howard Hughes, a wealthy businessmen and a lifetime aviation enthusiast, strongly desired to run his own airline.
In doing so, Hughes closed down his own aircraft manufacturing company and purchased the majority of shares of TWA in 1939.
The changes in TWA would be almost instantaneous.
The Lockheed Constellation
Although Lockheed Aircraft had been slowly developing the Constellation (also known as the Connie), Howard Hughes gave Lockheed incentive to speed up development and start production by requesting a 40 passenger seat aircraft with a range of 3500 miles (roughly the flying distance from New York to Paris).
The design was completed in 1943, and TWA received their first planes in 1946 after the end of World War II.
The Connie was the first widely used airplane with a pressurized cabin, which allowed for quicker and more comfortable flights.
Breaking Up Monopolies
Up until 1946, Pan Am had a monopoly on all international routes originating in the United States. Pan Am's CEO, Juan Trippe, bribed several Congress officials (including Owen Brewster) to pass a bill giving Pan Am the sole authority of international routes.
Hughes responded by exposing Brewster's corruption and ruining his future as a politician. That being said, TWA was soon after permitted to fly international routes with its new plane, the Constellation.
After its first international flight from New York to Paris on February 6, 1946, the airline officially changed its name to Trans World Airlines.
TWA began using timetables in 1930 in order to create a system where passengers could make reservations.
These timetables were vital to TWA's success and were continuously used until the year 2000, when the internet began to be more widely used.
The All Jet Fleet
In 1967, TWA became the first airline to use solely jet aircraft for its flights, making it the airline with the fastest service in the country. This accomplishment helped accelerate the entrance into the jet age.
A Boeing 707 in the TWA Livery
Other Technological Firsts
Besides being the first airline with an all-jet fleet, TWA had several other firsts in the airline industry, including:
TWA was the first airline to serve freshly-brewed coffee in-flight.
They also pioneered the use of in-flight movies.
TWA created the first non-smoking section for passengers (This occurred before the government banned smoking on all aircraft).
TWA JFK Terminal 5
With the coming of the jet age, TWA needed to build a terminal built specifically to accommodate jets as large as the 747. TWA realized its needs through the construction of the famous Terminal 5 at JFK. Designed by Earo Saarinen, the terminal's architecture comprises many curves and represents the future of flight.
Gaining Control of the Pacific
While TWA dominated the Atlantic market, the fledgling airline also desired to expand its Pacific network. Pan Am and Northwest Orient (now simply known as Northwest Airlines) were the only two airlines who could fly to East Asia at that time. TWA, however, finally received the rights to fly to Japan, Hawaii, and Taiwan through the decision of the Civil Aeronautics Board.
Domination of the Skies The countries to which TWA flew in order from left to right and top to bottom: Acores, Algeria, Austria, The Bahamas, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Ethiopia, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Iceland, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Kenya, Lebanon, Libya, Mexico, Morocco, The Netherlands, Norway, The Philippines, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Tanzania, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, UAE, and the United Kingdom.
Deregulation and its Effects
The Civil Aeronautics Board (The predecessor to the FAA) controlled many aspects of the aviation industry up until 1978.
Routes had to be bid for and were allotted by the CAB, much like flights to China are handled today.
This control allowed for the select few airlines of the time to dominate the market.
These airlines included: Pan Am, Delta, United, Eastern, TWA, and American.
Startup airlines such as Southwest had a very tough time being profitable until Deregulation started.
Although ticket prices decreased significantly and passengers benefited greatly, several of the big airlines saw deregulation as an economic downturn.
Without government control, these airlines were forced to restructure their companies in order to keep them profitable.
Pan Am and Eastern would both shut down within 15 years of deregulation, while TWA eventually closed down in 2001.
Carl Icahn: Corporate Raider
After taking over TWA 1985, Icahn strongly impacted TWA financially.
TWA's stock fell from 22 dollars a share to less than 14 dollars a share within the first month of his time as executive.
Carl Icahn's desire to cut costs led to a flight attendants strike in 1986
Icahn wanted to cut the base pay in half and decrease stipends for flight attendants living in expensive cities.
TWA continued its losses, this time being at a whopping $169 million dollars.
In order to salvage what was left, Icahn borrowed heavily at high interest rates
Mr. Icahn also made controversial staff changes. The President of TWA, Richard Pearson, was highly respected within the airline community, yet Icahn replaced him with one of his cronies, Joseph Corr, who had no experience in the industry whatsoever.
Many employees gave stories to the New York Times to show their hatred towards him. When checking in for a flight, one ticket agent put that he had a medical condition of having "no heart." A gate agent told the Times that Icahn delayed a flight from Miami solely because his wife was running late.
Icahn forced TWA to give him the ability to buy a certain percentage of seats at a highly discounted price. He then sold these tickets to the public for a profit. In doing so, many of TWA's flights contained customers who paid TWA half price, while the rest of the money went to Icahn's pocket. This led TWA to yet another bankruptcy in 1995, and many saw this as the beginning of the end for TWA.
On September 8, 1974, TWA Flight 841 from Tel Aviv to New York City (via. Athens and Rome) crashed into the Ionian Sea just west of Greece. According to the NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board), a bomb exploded in the aft cargo compartment of the aircraft, thus leading it to crash. All 79 passengers and 9 crew members died because of this incident. Neither the culprits nor the group who ordered the bomb has been identified
TWA Flight 847 is certainly the most well-known hijacking incident involving TWA aircraft. The flight, from Athens to Rome, quickly became taken over by two Lebanese Shi'ites. Numerous landings are made, and each landing the terrorists exchange hostages for more fuel. Once though, an oil supplier required payment, so one of the flight attendants offered her own credit card in order to keep the situation stable. Another flight attendant, Uli Derickson, used German as a lingua franca in order to communicate between the terrorists and the authorities.
Captain Testrake, grandfather of former MICDS student David Testrake, calmly flew the plane throughout the ordeal.
After several days, several more terrorists got onto the flight and they finally solidified their demands. They wanted the release of hundreds of Lebanese militia from jails in Israel and Kuwait.
The situation finally ended several weeks later after gradually releasing hostages on the plane and prisoners from Israel and Kuwait. One passenger, a naval officer, was the only death relating to the hijacking.
TWA Flight 840 (1986)
Flight 840 from Rome to Athens was bombed while in flight. The bomb left a large hole in the side of the aircraft, and 4 people fell to their deaths because of it. The plane did, however, stay intact and made a safe landing. The pilot credits their altitude for saving the plane from disintegration, as paraphrased in Time Magazine, "If the bomb had gone off ten minutes earlier, while the craft was still flying at its cruising altitude of 29,000 ft., the loss of pressure would have caused a far more serious explosion.”
St. Louis’s Pride and The End Of A Legacy: The Importance of TWA to the Aviation Community
TWA's collapse in 2001 ushered in the end of an era. As of 2001, TWA was the oldest continuously operating airline in the nation. It flew millions of passengers across the country and across the world, and it helped the Saint Louis economy to grow tremendously, adding thousands of jobs and non-stop flights from Lambert Airport to international destinations such as London, Paris, and Frankfurt.
The historical significance of TWA, however, does not just limit itself to how it affected Saint Louis. TWA radically helped change and mould the aviation industry that we know today. It perpetuated the construction of revolutionary airplanes, made in-flight service more feasible and comfortable, and helped to break down monopolies belonging to Pan Am and other airlines. Although TWA no longer exists as an airline, it shall always be known for the contributions that it made to the aviation industry.