The US deregulation battle continues, with 60 new jet-equipped passenger airlines disappearing between 1990 and 2005, including start-ups, charter and former cargo carriers, and regionals that transitioned to pure-jets.
These departed airlines are covered in Tom Norwood's second volume, with authoritative and informative entries supported by extensive color photography, reproductions of memorabilia, and maps, plus detailed fleet listings.
In addition, all the would-be 'paper' airlines of the period are recorded, including those that went so far as to have aircraft painted.
148pp; 320 color photos; hardbound
SPECIAL PRICE $19.95
Final asset auctions are always sad, with people picking over the scattered physical remains of a once busy airline. The sale of what little was left of Independence Air—desks, a few mobile units, lots of memorabilia, aging computers, pencils, potted plants, etc—took place at Washington Dulles International Airport only a day or so before this review was written. Pretty soon all evidence that the company ever existed will have vanished in a myriad directions.
Tom Norwood examines the demise and dismemberment of more than 50 US airlines, showing just how often it has happened. A decade ago he wrote—with some prescience—Round One (Reviews, May/Jun 1997), which covered all pure-jet passenger airlines that started up after US airline deregulation (1978) and which disappeared through the Eighties. This second volume covers the Nineties: airlines that started and died during that period, with a few that had begun earlier but failed to make it past 2005. His approach is the same here as with the first round—one- to five-page (occasionally more) illustrated surveys of each airline’s formation, operations, fleet, and the reasons for its demise. And the latter are nearly always the same: not enough money to keep going, although the causes of that death vary significantly. Taken together, Norwood’s two volumes are the best surviving record of the optimism that drives many airline businesses. The Knockouts books also make very clear that the odds are high, even if management has airline experience and knows what it is doing.
A strong theme in the new book is the impact of September 11, 2001, and the financial tailspin in which all airlines—legacy, discount, and start-ups—have found themselves in recent years. We keep hearing it is a cutthroat business, and this book underlines that reality. Arrangement is chronological, by the year each carrier began operations. Along the way the reader is entertained with a host of color schemes. For example, it becomes apparent that Western Pacific turned no advertiser away who could afford to buy what was, in effect, a flying billboard. An appendix briefly notes the firms proposed but which never left the ground.
This could be a depressing book for some, but it really isn’t. Instead, we see a host of interesting ideas, some color schemes of note (and others best forgotten), and attempts at different definitions of what an airline could or should be. Despite no limits to human ingenuity, not all schemes make it under competitive conditions. Norwood has done enthusiasts and historians a service with his illustrated records of US airline companies that tried...and failed.