Trans World Airlines (TWA) was a major American airline from 1924 until 2001. It was formed as Transcontinental & Western Air to operate a route from New York City to Los Angeles via St. Louis, Kansas City, and other stops, with Ford Trimotors. With American, United, and Eastern, it was one of the "Big Four" domestic airlines in the United States formed by the Spoils Conference of 1930.
Howard Hughes acquired control of TWA in 1939, and after World War II led the expansion of the airline to serve Europe, the Middle East, and Asia, making TWA a second unofficial flag carrier of the United States after Pan Am. Hughes gave up control in the 1960s, and the new management of TWA acquired Hilton International and Century 21 in an attempt to diversify the company's business.
As the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978 led to a wave of airline failures, start-ups, and takeovers in the United States, TWA was spun off from its holding company in 1984. Carl Icahn acquired control of TWA and took the company private in a leveraged buyout in 1988. TWA became saddled with debt, sold its London routes, underwent Chapter 11 restructuring in 1992 and 1995, and was further stressed by the explosion of TWA Flight 800 in 1996.
In 2001, TWA filed for a third and final bankruptcy and was acquired by American Airlines. American laid off many former TWA employees in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks and closed its St. Louis hub in 2003.
TWA was headquartered at one time in Kansas City, Missouri, and planned to make Kansas City International Airport its main domestic and international hub, but abandoned this plan in the 1970s. The airline later developed its largest hub at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport. Its main transatlantic hub was the TWA Flight Center at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City, an architectural icon designed by Eero Saarinen, and completed in 1962.
TWA's corporate history dates from the July 16, 1930, forced merger of Transcontinental Air Transport (T-A-T) and Western Air Express to form Transcontinental & Western Air (T&WA). The companies merged at the urging of Postmaster General Walter Folger Brown, who was looking for bigger airlines to give airmail contracts.
Both airlines brought high-profile aviation pioneers who would give the airline the panache of being called "The Airline Run by Flyers". The airlines were known for several years as being on the cutting edge of aviation. Transcontinental, the bigger of the two, had the marquee expertise of Charles Lindbergh and was already offering a 48-hour combination of plane and train trip across the United States. Western, which was slightly older, having been founded in 1925, had the expertise of Jack Frye.
On October 25, 1930, the airline offered one of the first all-plane scheduled service from coast to coast: the Lindbergh Line. The route took 36 hours and initially called for overnights in Kansas City. In summer 1931, TWA moved its headquarters from New York to Kansas City, Missouri.
In 1931, the airline nearly went out of business after one of its Fokker F.10s shed a wing and crashed on March 31 near Bazaar, Kansas, killing all eight on board, including University of Notre Dame football coach Knute Rockne. Investigation revealed that the wing's wooden structure had deteriorated. In the wake of the crash, the Fokker F.10 was temporarily grounded, and a more frequent and rigorous inspection and maintenance regimen was put in place, making it more expensive to operate. The F.10's public image, and that of all wooden-structured aircraft, suffered badly from the crash. TWA needed a replacement.
The dominant manufacturer of the day was Bill Boeing, but his contract with United Air Lines did not allow him to sell his 247 to competing lines. Frye and other members of TWA approached several other manufacturers, including Donald Douglas, with specifications for a larger plane. On September 20, 1932, the contract was signed with Douglas and the DC-1 was delivered to TWA in December 1933, the sole example of its type. This was followed by the delivery of 32 Douglas DC-2s that started operations in May 1934. Most were phased out by 1937 as the DC-3 started service, but several DC-2s would be operational through the early years of World War II. Throughout 1934, Tomlinson and Richter tested the DC-1, and Tomlinson's extensive testing in 1934 and 1935 led to higher-altitude "over-weather flying" and cabin pressurization.
On February 18, 1934 the top-scoring American World War I ace Eddie Rickenbacker and a TWA team including Frye, "Tommy" Tomlinson, Larry Fritz, Paul E. Richter, Si Morehouse, Harlan Hull, John Collings, and Andy Andrews flew the DC-1 from Burbank, California, to Newark, New Jersey, in a record-breaking 13 hours and 4 minutes.
In 1934, following charges of favoritism in the contracts, the Air Mail scandal erupted, leading to the Air Mail Act of 1934, which dissolved the forced Transcontinental and Western merger and ordered the United States Army Air Service to deliver the mail. The T&WA name, however, would stick with Transcontinental as TWA. With the company facing financial hardship, Lehman Brothers and John D. Hertz took over ownership of the company.
The Army fliers had a series of crashes, and it was decided to privatize the delivery with the provision that no former companies could bid on the contracts. T&WA added the suffix "Inc." to its name, thus qualifying it as a different company and got 60% of its old contracts back starting again in May 1934.
On May 18, 1934, the DC-2 production version of the DC-1 and forerunner of the DC-3 entered commercial service on TWA's Columbus–Pittsburgh–Newark route. On August 1, TWA started a three-stop transcontinental flight: leave Newark at 1600, arrive Glendale at 0700, fare $160 one way (about $2,227 today). All transcontinental airline flights made at least three stops en route until 1946.
On December 27, 1934 Jack Frye became President, Paul E. Richter, Vice President (VP), and Walt Hamilton, VP Maintenance, with managers Lawrence G. "Larry" Fritz, and Tommy Tomlinson, the leader in "High Altitude Research" for over-weather flying. The new owners installed directional "homing" and runway lights at its facilities.
In 1935, Tomlinson and Northrop Gamma (turbo-supercharged) began high altitude research, and the last of 14 TWA Northrop Alphas were phased out. On November 16, 1936, Richter headed the airline's Boeing 307 talks; on January 29, 1937, TWA contracted with Boeing for five Boeing 307 "Stratoliners", the first commercial plane with a pressurized cabin. The first TWA Stratoliner was delivered on May 6, 1940.
In 1938, Richter was elected Executive VP, Lawrence G. "Larry" Fritz became VP of Operations, and Tomlinson VP of Engineering. TWA subsequently received the San Francisco to Chicago route (via Los Angeles).
In 1938 Lehman and Hertz began selling their interest and General Motors began buying stock. Frye then approached another flying enthusiast, Howard Hughes, to buy stock. According to John Keats's biography of Hughes, he grumbled, "$15 million! That's a small fortune!" before he agreed and initially bought 25% of the airline.
On June 22, 1939, Hughes Tool Co. ordered 40 Lockheed Constellations. On July 8, 1940, TWA inaugurated Boeing 307 Stratoliner service; in summer 1941, a Stratoliner was scheduled to leave La Guardia at 2030 EST and arrive Burbank at 0838 PST after three stops.
Hughes gained a controlling interest in 1941 and eventually controlled 78% of TWA. The airline prospered during World War II, racking up 40 million miles in flights for the Army, as well as supplying the North Atlantic route to Prestwick, Scotland, and the South Atlantic route from Brazil to Liberia and points east.
Hughes pushed for the construction of the Lockheed Constellation commercial airliner, which would become synonymous with the TWA style of elegance and cutting-edge technology. On April 17, 1944, Hughes and Frye flew the Constellation (C-69 USAAF #43-10310) from Burbank, California, to Washington, D.C., in an unofficial record of 6 hours 58 minutes.
After breaking Pan American World Airways' legal designation as the United States' sole international carrier, TWA began trans-Atlantic service in 1946 using DC-4s and the elegant new Lockheed Constellation ("Connie"); soon its name was changed to the Trans World Airline. Flights reached Cairo in 1946, Bombay in January 1947, Ceylon in February 1953, and Manila in January 1958; two 1049Gs a week reached Manila 55–56 hours after leaving Idlewild. The route was cut back to Bangkok in a year or two and to Bombay in 1961. In 1966, it re-extended to Hong Kong via Bangkok, then in 1969 TWA opened the transpacific link to complete its round-the-world network that lasted until 1975.
The airline assisted in the setting-up of Saudi Arabian Airlines, Ethiopian Airlines, and the newly established German national airline Lufthansa. Airlines from around the world sent their pilots to TWA for training.
Frye and Hughes had a falling out in 1946. Hughes' financial advisor Noah Dietrich said that Frye was ruining the company with overexpansion. TWA's stock market price plunged from $53 a share to $10 as the airline suffered a pilot's strike and a temporary grounding of its Constellation fleet. Hughes dictated to management a 50% cut across the board as a solution to the financial problems. In December 1946, Hughes loaded the TWA Board of Directors with men from the Hughes Tool Co. Frye resigned in February 1947, followed three months later by Richter. Thus ended the era of "The Airline Run by Flyers".
|Revenue passenger traffic, in millions of passenger-miles (scheduled flights only, domestic plus international)|
In the next two decades, TWA suffered constant changes in management, with the exception of Ralph Damon. TWA survived partly due to the airline's legal maneuvering of the 1940s that eliminated a possible competitive threat from American Overseas Airlines, affiliated with American Airlines. C.R. Smith, President of American, unhappy with the AOA's financial results, sold AOA to Pan American in 1950; TWA and Pan Am were the only U.S. airlines scheduling passenger flights to Europe until National started in 1970.
In 1950, the airline officially changed its name to Trans World Airlines. Between 1954 and 1958, it moved its executive offices from its landmark downtown Kansas City building to New York City. However, the servicing of the fleet continued to be handled in Kansas City, Kansas. Initially, servicing was at a former B-25 Mitchell bomber factory at Fairfax Airport. When the Great Flood of 1951 destroyed the facility, the city of Kansas City, Missouri, built TWA a 5,000-acre (20 km2) airport on farmland 15 miles (24 km) north of downtown at what became Kansas City International Airport. At its peak, the airline was one of Kansas City's biggest employers with more than 20,000 employees. TWA also became well-regarded by Hollywood movie stars and executives and became known as the "Airline To The Stars".
TWA suffered from its late entry to the jet age, and Hughes placed an order for 63 Convair 880s at a cost of $400 million. The transaction ultimately resulted in Hughes losing control of the airline because outside creditors financing the deal did not want Hughes controlling both development and operation of aircraft.
In 1958, TWA became the first major airline to hire an African American flight attendant, hiring Margaret Grant after another African American woman, Dorothy Franklin of Astoria, Queens, New York, filed a lawsuit alleging "that she had been discriminated against 'because of poor complexion ... unattractive teeth' and legs that were 'not shapely.'" New York governor W. Averell Harriman praised her hiring, saying the action "would raise American prestige abroad."
In July 1940 TWA scheduled flights to 22 airports, in August 1953, to 65, in May 1968, to 63, and in November 1978, to 58.
On July 19, 1961, TWA was the first American airline with movies aboard its aircraft when it showed By Love Possessed, starring Lana Turner and Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. in the first-class section of a Boeing 707 flying New York to Los Angeles.
Hughes relinquished power in 1961 in the battle over the purchase of the Convair 880 jetliners. In the deal, Charles C. Tillinghast, Jr. became chairman and oversaw the airline until 1976. The battle over Hughes' control continued until a court order in 1966 forced Hughes to sell his stock at a profit of $546 million (which he used to purchase the regional carrier Air West and rename the airline Hughes Airwest).
Under new management, the Trans World Corporation (TWA's holding company) expanded to purchase the overseas operations of Hilton Hotels. In 1964, TWA started a program to assist in the United States' export expansion effort that became known as the TWA MarketAir Corporate Logo to promote business passenger air travel and as a marketing tool to be used in air cargo sales. This marketing effort was initiated by the Senior Vice President, Marketing, Thomas B. McFadden, in collaboration with the Bureau of International Commerce, important U.S. financial institutions, and export expansion entities to offer tools that small and medium-sized U.S. companies could use at low or no cost to expand their exports. Staff management of this program was under the direction of Joseph S. Cooper. A key element of this program was the MarketAir Newsletter in a number of languages targeted to American exporters and international travelers.
TWA was one of the first airlines, after Delta Air Lines, to embrace the spoke-hub distribution paradigm and was one of the first with the Boeing 747. It planned to use the 747 along with the supersonic transport to whisk people between the West/Midwest (via Kansas City) and New York City (via John F. Kennedy International Airport) to Europe and other world destinations. As part of this strategy, TWA's hub airports were to have gates close to the street. The TWA-style airport design proved impractical when hijackings to Cuba in the late 1960s caused a need for central security checkpoints.
In 1962, TWA opened Trans World Flight Center, now Terminal 5 (or simply T5), at New York City's JFK Airport and designed by Eero Saarinen. The terminal was expanded in 1969 to accommodate jumbo jets, went dormant in 2001, and underwent renovation and expansion beginning in 2005. A new terminal with a crescent-shaped entry hall and now serving JetBlue Airways opened in 2008—partially encircling the landmark.
Kansas City approved a $150 million bond issue for the TWA hub there. TWA vetoed plans for a Dulles International Airport-style hub-and-spoke gate structure. Following union strife, the airport ultimately cost $250 million when it opened in 1972, with Vice President Spiro Agnew officiating. TWA's gates, which were intended to be within 100 feet (30 m) of the street, became obsolete because of security issues. Kansas City refused to rebuild its terminals as Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport rebuilt its similar terminals, forcing TWA to look for a new hub. Missouri politicians moved to keep it in the state and, in 1982, TWA began a decade-long move to Lambert International Airport in St. Louis.
On April 7, 1967, TWA became one of the USA's first all-jet airlines with the retirement of their last Lockheed L-749A Constellation and L-1649 Starliner cargo aircraft. That morning, throughout the TWA system, aircraft ground-service personnel placed a booklet on every passenger seat titled "Props Are For Boats".
In 1967–72, TWA was the world's third-largest airline by passenger-miles, behind Aeroflot and United. In 1969, TWA carried the most transatlantic passengers of any airline; until then, Pan American World Airways had always been number one. In the Transpacific Route Case of 1969, TWA was given authority to fly across the Pacific to Hawaii and Taiwan, and for a few years, TWA had a round-the-world network.
In 1969, TWA opened the Breech Academy on a 25-acre (100,000 m2) campus in the Kansas City suburb of Overland Park, Kansas, to train its flight attendants, ticket agents, and travel agents, as well as to provide flight simulators for its pilots. It became the definitive airline facility, training other airlines staff, as well as its own.
The airline continued to expand European operations in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. In 1987, TWA had a transatlantic system reaching from Los Angeles to Bombay, including virtually every major European population center, with 10 American gateways.
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The uniforms for the flight attendants during this decade went through three different designers. From 1971–1974, the official TWA uniform was designed by Valentino. From 1974–1978, the official TWA uniform was designed by Stan Herman, and from 1978–2001, the official TWA uniform was designed by Ralph Lauren. 
Facing the pressures of deregulation, the airline consolidated its route system around a domestic hub in St. Louis (aided by its purchase of Ozark Air Lines in 1986) and an international gateway in New York. It was able to remain profitable during this time because of its good antederegulation route positioning and the relatively low costs of adapting its operations.
In 1985, Carl Icahn bought the airline operations from the Trans World Corporation and appointed himself as chairman of the newly independent airline. Also in 1985, TWA closed its hub at Pittsburgh International Airport after nearly 20 years as a hub.
The following year, TWA acquired Ozark Air Lines, a regional carrier based at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport, for $250 million. This transaction increased TWA's share of enplanements in St. Louis from 56.6% to 82%.
TWA had pilot bases in many European cities such as Berlin, Frankfurt, Zurich, Rome, and Athens. These bases were used to provide crews for the Boeing 727s which TWA operated in its European route network. Its Boeing 727 aircraft served Cairo, Athens, Rome, London, Paris, Geneva, Berlin, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Stuttgart, Zurich, Amsterdam, Oslo, Vienna, and Istanbul.
TWA's zenith occurred in the summer of 1988, when, for the only time, the airline carried more than 50 percent of all transatlantic passengers. Every day, Boeing 747, Lockheed L-1011, and Boeing 767 aircraft departed to more than 30 cities in Europe, fed by a small but effective domestic operation focused on moving U.S. passengers to New York or other gateway cities for wide-body service across the Atlantic, while a similar inter-European operation shuttled non-U.S. passengers to TWA's European gateways—London, Paris (which was even considered a European hub by TWA), and Frankfurt — for travel to the United States.
In 1989, TWA decided to replace its fleet of Boeing 727 Series 100 aircraft with the former Ozark Airlines DC-9s. This decision was based on the economics of operating three-crew airplanes (727s) with three engines, versus operating two-crew airplanes (DC-9s) with two engines. Both airplanes had about the same passenger and cargo capacity, so it was decided to replace the Boeing fleet. To prepare for this transition, TWA positioned several million dollars worth of spare parts for the DC-9s in Germany. This was a requirement dictated by the German government. If TWA wanted to use DC-9s in the service of the German population, then TWA had to provide readily available spare parts for its fleet. The airline also sent its senior DC-9 pilots (known as Check Airmen) to Europe to observe the operations in preparation for the changeover of the crews that was to follow. Shortly before the DC-9 airplanes began arriving in Germany, however, the entire plan was cancelled because the leasing contracts that Carl Icahn had created for the former Ozark DC-9s specifically forbade any operations outside the continental limits of the United States.
In 1990, Icahn's pressing needs for additional capital forced him to sell the airline's Heathrow operations to American Airlines about the same time that Pan American World Airways sold its Heathrow operation to United.
Tillinghast ignored the transpacific market and the dedicated air cargo market. He was reported to have said, "There's no money in the Pacific and there's no money in cargo. We're gonna' shrink this airline 'til it's profitable." These two oversights are said to have been the undoing of TWA, in addition to Sandro Andretta's resignation in December 1991.
Airline deregulation hit TWA hard in the 1980s. TWA had badly neglected domestic U.S. expansion at a time when the newly deregulated domestic market was growing quickly. TWA's holding company, Trans World Corporation, spun off the airline, which then became starved for capital. The airline briefly considered selling itself to renowned corporate raider Frank Lorenzo in the 1980s, but ended up selling to yet another corporate raider, Carl Icahn, in 1985. Under Icahn's direction, many of its most profitable assets were sold to competitors, much to the detriment of TWA. Icahn was eventually ousted in 1993, though not before the airline was forced to file for bankruptcy on January 31, 1992. Icahn emerged unscathed. TWA moved its headquarters from Mt. Kisco to the former headquarters building of McDonnell Douglas in St. Louis soon after Icahn left.
When Carl Icahn left in 1993, he arranged to have TWA give Karabu Corp., an entity he controlled, the rights to buy TWA tickets at 45% off published fares through September 2003. This was named "the Karabu deal". The ticket program agreement, which began on June 14, 1995, excluded tickets for travel which originated or terminated in St. Louis, Missouri. Tickets were subject to TWA's normal seat assignment and boarding pass rules and regulations, were not assignable to any other carrier, and were not endorsable. No commissions were paid to Karabu by TWA for tickets sold under the ticket program agreement.
By agreement dated August 14, 1995, Lowestfare.com LLC, a wholly owned operating subsidiary of Karabu, was joined as a party to the ticket program agreement. Pursuant to the ticket program agreement, Lowestfare.com could purchase an unlimited number of system tickets. System tickets are tickets for all applicable classes of service which were purchased by Karabu from TWA at a 45% discount from TWA's published fare. In addition to system tickets, Lowestfare.com could also purchase domestic consolidator tickets, which are tickets issued at bulk fare rates and were limited to specified origin/destination city markets and did not permit the holder to modify or refund a purchased ticket. Karabu's purchase of domestic consolidator tickets was subject to a cap of $70 million per year based on the full retail price of the tickets.
On most TWA flights, Karabu could buy at a heavy discount and then sell a certain portion of all TWA's available seats. As a result, TWA was hamstrung by the high proportion of heavily discounted seats that had been sold and was essentially left with no control over its own pricing. It could not afford to discount any of its own seats, and if TWA wanted to increase revenue on busy routes by putting a larger plane into service, Karabu would only claim more seats. TWA was losing an estimated $150 million a year in revenue due to this deal.
To ameliorate the Karabu deal, TWA went in and out of bankruptcy in 1995.
By 1998, TWA had reorganized as a primarily domestic carrier, with routes centered on hubs at St. Louis and New York. Partly in response to TWA Flight 800 and the age of its fleet, TWA announced a major fleet renewal, ordering 125 new aircraft. TWA paid for naming rights for the new Trans World Dome, home of the then St. Louis Rams, in its corporate hometown. In June 1994, its headquarters moved to One City Centre in downtown St. Louis.
TWA's fleet-renewal program included adding newer and smaller, more fuel-efficient, longer-range aircraft such as the Boeing 757 and 767 and short-range aircraft such as the McDonnell Douglas MD-80 and Boeing 717. Aircraft such as the Boeing 727 and 747, along with the Lockheed L-1011 and older DC-9s, some from Ozark and the 1960s, were retired. TWA also became one of the early customers for the Airbus A318 through International Lease Finance Corporation. TWA, had it continued operating through 2003, would have been the first U.S. carrier to fly the type.
TWA had international code-share agreements with Royal Jordanian Airlines, Kuwait Airways, Royal Air Maroc, Air Europa, and Air Malta. In 1997, a code-share agreement was signed with Air Ukraine with plans to begin service between Paris and Kiev by 1999. Domestic code-share with America West Airlines was started, with long-term plans for a merger considered.
The airlines' routes were also changed; several international destinations were dropped or changed. The focus of the airline became domestic with a few international routes through its St. Louis hub and smaller New York (JFK) and San Juan, Puerto Rico hubs. Domestically, the carrier improved services with redesigned aircraft and new services, including "Pay in Coach, Fly in First", whereby coach passengers could be upgraded to first class when flying through St. Louis. Internationally, services were cut. European destinations eventually were limited to London and Paris; and in the Middle East, to Cairo, Riyadh and Tel Aviv.
Financial problems soon resurfaced and Trans World Airlines Inc. assets were acquired in April 2001 by AMR Corp., the parent company of American Airlines, which quickly formed a new company called TWA Airlines LLC. As part of the deal, TWA declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy (for the third time) the day after it agreed to the purchase. The terms of the deal included a $745 million payment. The bankruptcy court approved the purchase over a rival bid by Jet Acquisition Group, an investment group fronted by Ralph Atkin, founder of SkyWest Airlines. The total value of TWA's assets and assumed liabilities was estimated to be $2 billion. American did not claim the naming rights for the Rams' home, which eventually became the Edward Jones Dome and now The Dome at America's Center.
TWA booking ended on November 30, 2001.
TWA Airlines LLC flew its last flight on December 1, 2001, with an MD-80 aircraft (N948TW). The ceremonial last flight was Flight 220 from Kansas City to St. Louis, with CEO Captain William Compton at the controls. The final flight before TWA was 'officially' absorbed by American Airlines was completed between St. Louis and Las Vegas, Nevada, also on December 1, 2001. At 10:00 pm CST on that date, employees began removing all TWA signs and placards from airports around the country, replacing them with American Airlines signs. At midnight, all TWA flights officially became listed as American Airlines flights. Some aircraft carried hybrid American/TWA livery during the transition, with American's tricolor stripe on the fuselage and TWA titles on the tail and forward fuselage. Signage still bears the TWA logo in portions of Concourse D at Lambert St. Louis International Airport.
American Airlines acquired some Ambassadors Clubs; other Ambassadors Clubs closed on December 2, 2001.
TWA's St. Louis hub shrank after the acquisition, due to its proximity to American's larger hub at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport. As a result, American initially replaced TWA's St. Louis mainline hub with regional jet service (going from over 800 operations a day to just over 200) and downsized TWA's maintenance base in Kansas City. In September 2009, American Airlines announced its intent to shut down the St. Louis hub it inherited from TWA and, in October 2009, American Airlines announced its intent to close the Kansas City maintenance base by September 2010.
On December 16, 2013, Doug Parker, CEO of American Airlines Group, announced that TWA heritage aircraft will be added in the future, "We will continue that tradition at American, including introducing a TWA aircraft in the future and keeping a US Airways livery aircraft. That also means we will keep a heritage American livery in the fleet". On November 16, 2015, American made good on that promise, painting a 737-800 in the TWA livery (with American titles, as shown to the right). The remaining TWA MD-83s will stay in service until around 2018, when the last former TWA, Inc. aircraft will be retired. TWA, Inc. retirees have their flying privileges restored and are no longer segregated from the American Airlines retirees with the TWR classification.
One lighted TWA sign still exists (as of 2013) on the east side of Saarinen's TWA Flight Center terminal facing JetBlue's Terminal 5. JetBlue will keep the lit TWA sign on the TWA Flight Center.
TWA had codeshare agreements with the following airlines:
Since 1942, TWA was involved in 84 incidents.
On July 11, 1946, a TWA Lockheed Constellation, NC86513, operating as TWA flight 513, a training flight, crashed in Reading, Pennsylvania. Of six crew members, only one survived. The crash was caused by a fire in the cargo hold, and grounded all Constellations from July 12 until August 23, 1946.
Another disaster that gained widespread coverage was the collision of a TWA Lockheed L-1049 Super Constellation with a United Airlines' Douglas DC-7 over the Grand Canyon in 1956, which killed all 128 people on board both airliners. This accident led to groundbreaking changes in the regulation of flight operations in the United States.
A similar event occurred in 1960, this time in New York City, when another TWA L-1049 collided with a United Douglas DC-8. The disaster killed 134 people: 84 on board the UAL DC-8, 44 on board the TWA L-1049, and six people on ground. No one survived from either airliner.
From 1969 to 1986, six TWA airliners were terrorist targets for Palestinian fedayeen, four of which were hijackings and two, bombings, mainly because the airline had a strong European presence, was a flag carrier for the United States of America, and flew to Israel.
TWA's worst accident occurred on July 17, 1996, when Flight 800, a Boeing 747 en route to Paris, exploded over the Atlantic Ocean near Long Island, killing all 230 people on board. The National Transportation Safety Board concluded that the most likely cause of the disaster was a center-fuel-tank explosion sparked by exposed wiring. In their subsequent coverage, the media focused heavily on the fact that TWA's airline fleet was among the oldest in service (the 747 used for Flight 800 was manufactured in 1971, making it 25 years old at the time of the incident). The flight was under the command of Captain Steven Snyder, a veteran TWA pilot.
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When Trans World Airlines was acquired by American Airlines in 2001, their fleet contained these aircraft:
|Airbus A318-100||—||50||Orders later cancelled|
|Boeing 717-200||30||20||Majority were later sold to AirTran Airways and currently operated by Delta Air Lines
Other remaining orders were cancelled
|Boeing 757-200||27||—||17 currently operated by Delta Air Lines|
|McDonnell Douglas MD-81||8||—|
|McDonnell Douglas MD-82||38||—||21 remain in service with American Airlines|
|McDonnell Douglas MD-83||65||—||25 remain in service with American Airlines|
|Northrop Alpha||1931||1935||Operated 14|
|Douglas DC-1||1933||1934||Operated the only DC-1 ever built|
|Douglas DC-2||1934||1942||Operated 31.|
|Douglas DC-3/C-47||1937||1957||Operated 104|
|Boeing 307 Stratoliner||1940||1951||Operated 5.|
|Lockheed Constellation||1945||1967||Received first 40|
|Martin 2-0-2A||1950||1955||Operated 21|
|Martin 4-0-4||1950||1961||Operated 40|
|Boeing 707-120/-320 / Boeing 720B||1960||1983||Operated 56 -131s, three -124s, 65 -331s, and two -373s. Also operated 4 720-051Bs aircraft.|
|Boeing 727-100||1964||1993||Operated 35 -100s|
|Boeing 727-200||1968||2000||Operated 61 -200s|
|Boeing 747-100/-200||1970||1998||Operated 19 -131s, six used -100s, and five used -200s|
|Douglas DC-9-14/-15/-31/-41/-51||1967||2001||Operated six -14s, 21 -15s, 38 -31s, three -41s, and 12 -51s|
|Boeing 747SP||1979||1986||Operated three|
|Convair 880||1960||1974||Operated 28|
|Lockheed L-1011||1972||1997||Operated 41|
TWA, at one time, also held orders for the BAC-Aérospatiale Concorde, Sud Aviation Caravelle, Boeing 2707, and the Airbus A330 (which were taken by Cathay Pacific). The remaining A330 orders were eventually converted to A318 orders.
|BAC/Sud Concorde||Six on option|
|Boeing SST||12 on option|
|Lockheed L-1011 TriStar||22|
TWA had crew bases in Boston, New York, Washington, D.C., St. Louis, Kansas City, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Frankfurt. International flight attendants' crew bases were located in Paris, Rome, Hong Kong, and, at one time, Cairo. Starting in 1996, TWA had a "West Coast Regional Domicile", in which pilots and flight attendants covered originating flights out of major West Coast U.S. airports from San Diego, California, north to San Francisco.
TWA operated Ambassadors Club locations in various airports. American Airlines acquired some clubs, and other clubs closed on December 2, 2001. Before the closure of the clubs, TWA maintained clubs at:
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