10/10/1985: Presidential Airways Takes Flight

10/10/1985: Presidential Airways Takes Flight

DALLAS – Today in Aviation, low-fare carrier Presidential Airways (XV) took to the skies in 1985 by former PEOPLExpress (PE) boss Harold J. “Hap” Paretti. 

Based at Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD), Paretti wanted to create a full-service carrier with low fares. Around US$2 million was secured as starting capital, and several ex-Lufthansa (LH) Boeing 737-200s were sourced to commence flights. 

N408XV pictured on lease from BAe to British Airways (BA) still wearing basic XV colors. Photo: Ken Fielding/https://www.flickr.com/photos/kenfieldingCC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Common


Initial routes from IAD included Boston (BOS), Cincinnati (CVG), Hartford (BDL), Indianapolis (IND), and Miami (MIA). By the summer of 1986, the airline had expanded to serve 18 destinations. 

To keep up with the expansion, XV placed an order in June 1986 for five British Aerospace BAe 146-200s. Presidential would use the type on thinner routes unsuitable for the 737. 

The airline later purchased Colgan Air (9L), which then flew feeder services from IAD under the banner “Presidential Express.” From the takeover, XV would inherit 9L’s fleet of BAe Jetstream 31s and Beechcraft 1900s. 

XV purchased Colgan Air and inherited the airline’s fleet of Beechcraft 1900Cs. Photo: JetPix (GFDL 1.2 or GFDL 1.2), via Wikimedia Commons

Major Feeder

9L was already operating as a feeder carrier for Continental Airlines (CO), and due to increased competition, XV management decided to become CO’s “Jet Express” feeder at IAD in January 1987. It also flew several services for Pan Am (PA) under the Pan Am Express (PL) banner. This agreement lasted less than a year before management struck a new deal with United (UA) in 1988.

However, the carrier was facing severe financial difficulties. Plans were put forward to create a mini-hub at Birmingham–Shuttlesworth International Airport (BHM). Before the project could be executed, Presidential was declared bankrupt, and operations ceased on December 5, 1989.

Featured Image: Presidential Airways operated nine BAe 146-200s. Photo: Presidential Airways

European Deputy Editor
Writer, aviation fanatic, and Airways European Deputy Editor, Lee is a plant geek and part-time Flight Attendant for a UK-based airline. Based in Liverpool, United Kingdom.

You cannot copy content of this page