DALLAS — Today in Aviation, Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR)-based Kiwi International Air Lines (KP) commenced operations in 1992.
The airline was created by several former Eastern Air Lines (EA) employees who found themselves out of work following EA’s collapse in 1991.
Highs and Lows
Utilizing a pair of ex-Lufthansa (LH) Boeing 727-200s, initial services saw EWR linked with Atlanta (ATL), Chicago (MDW), and Orlando (MCO). Despite offering a low-fare service, passengers were treated to gourmet meals and a generous 36″ legroom.
A year later, Condé Nast Traveler named Kiwi the “Best Airline in America.” But by 1994, the carrier was struggling financially, reporting a loss of US$14 million. Several of the airline’s top management members were ousted in an attempt to turn around its fortunes. The FAA also grounded a number of KP’s 727s for a short time due to poor pilot training documentation.
The airline would join forces with Virgin Atlantic (VS), sharing passengers from VS’s transatlantic flights into EWR. It also formed a strategic alliance with Air South, with the two carriers linking 12 Eastern US citifies with 155 daily flights.
In early October 1996, KP filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, citing rising fuel costs and the instability in the low-cost sector at the time. On October 22, the airline was forced to suspend operations.
Several white knights stepped forward to rescue the troubled airline. In 1997, KP emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy with plans to expand its fleet and network. Sadly, these plans never came to fruition, and in March 1999, Kiwi International was forced to cease operations.