MIAMI — Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL) is one of the few airports that offers a dedicated location for plane spotters. This area is located next to the holding point of runway 10L, and there are no parking costs to worry about when visiting this great location. Today, the area also offers a loudspeaker for spotters to listen to air traffic control tower communications with traffic. In light of this week’s opening of the extended runway 10R, let’s go back to the early 1990s to see some of the traffic visible from the viewing park.
Friendly Canadian tourists, affectionately known as “snowbirds”, are a common sight in Florida during the winter months, though Air Canada flies to FLL year-round. In the 1980s and 1990s, it was common for the airline to add more flights and use larger aircraft in the winter, and one of the main attractions was when their 747 visited. Canadian charter carriers relied heavily on the winter months in Florida for their bread and butter and Canada 3000 was one of the largest charter airlines in the world during its operation. The company, which did not survive the post-September 11 airline chaos, was one of Air Canada’s main competitors during the winter vacation season in South Florida.
Before the days of JetBlue and Spirit, Delta Air Lines was the largest operator at FLL. Delta’s flew widebody Lockheed L-1011s and Boeing 767s, especially to and from Atlanta and New York. This was also still a time when many of the airline’s Boeing 727s were still in operation, and another frequent Delta visitor to FLL in the 90s was the Boeing 757, which today is still a common sight at the airport. Today, Delta is the fourth largest operator at FLL, behind , JetBlue, Southwest and Spirit, and it operates from Terminal 2.
Defunct U.S. Airlines
In the early 1990s, now defunct U.S. carriers, such as Newark-based Kiwi International Airlines, Indianapolis-based American Trans Air (later ATA), Carnival Airlines, and the famous Trans World Airlines (TWA) visited FLL. Kiwi was created by former Eastern and Pan Am pilots and managers and operated from 1992 to until its bankruptcy in 1999. Its demise was caused by various factors, including undercapitalization, bad press on the safety of low cost airlines in light of the ValuJet crash in the Florida Everglades in 1996, and a maintenance dispute with the FAA despite the airlines perfect safety record. ATA was North America’s largest charter airline, founded in 1973, and it lasted until 2008, when it lost a contract to transport military members. Carnival Air Lines was an attempt by the parent cruise line to provide charter services from Fort Lauderdale and Miami. It started flights in 1988 and ceased operations after a failed merger with a reincarnated version of Pan Am in 1998. The iconic TWA was a frequent visitor from New York JFK and Saint Louis. However, TWA experienced three bankruptcies starting in 1992, and American Airlines eventually bought and merged with TWA at the end of 2001.
Past Fleets and Liveries
Finally, more than 20 years ago, many of the airlines still in operation today had aircraft and colors that are now history. US Airways was known as US Air at the time and had inherited a number of Boeing 737-300/400 aircraft after its merger with Piedmont Airlines. On the charter side, Miami-based Miami Air International was only a couple of years into its operation. It started with a fleet of Boeing 727s, and today it operates a combination of Boeing 737-400/800 planes.