When Did TWA Reach Its Peak Of Power?

Tue Aug 06, 2002 1:47 pm

Considering I am 18, I was not old enough to see TWA in their glory days. When did these occur? I'm guessing in the mid 80's? How big was their fleet? Where did they have hubs? Is united and american of todays aviation world what TWA and Pan Am was years ago?
Any info would be appreciated
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RE: When Did TWA Reach Its Peak Of Power?

Tue Aug 06, 2002 1:52 pm

I'd say that TWA peaked in the mid-60's and started to lose ground after deregulation in the late 70's. In terms of both US market share & intl route network.

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RE: When Did TWA Reach Its Peak Of Power?

Tue Aug 06, 2002 3:51 pm

TWA and Pan Am were never the size that United and American are today. Even at TWA's height of size, today's CO, NW, SW and US Airways are much bigger. At Pan Am's demise they were no bigger than America West or Alaska. These airlines were the pioneering airlines of America, therefore they went into the history books. When one looks at their glamorous pasts, it does indeed seem like they were huge! But these airlines were more interested in focusing on set pairs of glamorous city pairs like NY to Paris, London, S. America, etc. Then building major hubs in geographically strategic locations. That is where they failed and the others succeeded.
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RE: When Did TWA Reach Its Peak Of Power?

Tue Aug 06, 2002 5:19 pm


My personal opinion TWA was always on "the top of the wave" from late 40's until early 70's when they ordered and received the L1011 Tristar. But truly the greatest years of TWA where late 50's and early 60 with the transition from piston to jet. With the piston they had hords of L049/749/749A/1049/1049G/1049H/1649's. Then everything was replaced by 707-100/707-300/CV880/DC-9-10/727-100/707-300B/707-300C. THose where great years for TWA.
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RE: When Did TWA Reach Its Peak Of Power?

Tue Aug 06, 2002 9:40 pm

TWA never had a big international network. They flew to the likes of London, Paris, Rome, Lisbon, Athens, Tel Aviv and that's about it.

Pan Am had stand-alone routes all over the place, such as Sydney to Hong Kong, Singapore and Bangkok. They covered all of S America, Asia, even Africa (Nairobi, Kinshasa, Monrovia all saw PA 747s). Pan Am was also America's "chosen instrument" for foreign policy, flying scheduled routes to the likes of Saigon etc. When the Marines invaded Lebanon in the early 80s, Pan Am promptly started a route to NY via Frankfurt (727 to FRA) having abandoned BEY in 75 when the war broke out, and since the Marines main base was next to the airport, the Marines had to salute the daily Pan Am flight as it roared overhead. True story.
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RE: When Did TWA Reach Its Peak Of Power?

Tue Aug 06, 2002 9:52 pm


Getting the words from our friend Cedarjet infact TWA had less international routes than PAN AM, but in the oposite way TWA was much stronger than PAN AM in domestic routes, so I feel that this well balanced market was well established by the politicians in USA. If we look closely PAN AM only started to have a true domestic market when they merged with NATIONAL. But I'll always remember TWA and PAN AM as the USA flag in my country ( Portugal ) with their 707's and DC-8's ( PAN AM of course ) flying to LIS.
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RE: When Did TWA Reach Its Peak Of Power?

Tue Aug 06, 2002 10:25 pm

I would say around 1986. They still had Heathrow, the JFK and STL hubs, a decent LAX presence and Ozark was just added to the fleet. I believe the fleet topped around 218.
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RE: When Did TWA Reach Its Peak Of Power?

Wed Aug 07, 2002 7:39 am

It's a very hard question.

In the 1940's and 1950's their Hollywood links made them the most glamarous.

In the 1960's and 1970's they started spreading their wings past Europe and the Mid East into Asia and had around the world flights. here they probably had their biggest worldwide presence.

Mid-Late 1970's and Early 1980's were Number One across the Atlantic in terms of market share, ahead of the old rival Pan Am. Plus they owned companies like Hilton Hotels, Century 21 Realty and someone once told me Taco Bell (not sure on that one though).

Mid 1980's probably biggest in fleet size, but a very troubled company apart from that.

You asked about hubs. Well, Chicago O-Hare was a big base pre St Louis, which they moved to due to geographical possition and lack of direct competition (as opposed to the even then big and strong UA and AA). New York was their "Gateway" City and they were always a major New York Airline. Overseas, they had a network of flights connecting Italy, Greece and Mid East. Paris was a hub for them, with a fair few forward flights meeting incoming routes from the US, infact they had their very own Satalite Terminal at CDG, theirs until the very end. Heathrow had a lot of flights, about 1/3 of their revenue was connected to LHR in some way. LHR was different to Paris, because Paris was an interchange for through traffic where as Heathrow was more a final destination.

Could never understand TWA's downfall in France. Ask the French to name a US airline, they'd probably say TWA. The whole thing just died a slow death because the new generation of management didn't understand how to make Europe really work, because of staffing and labour issues which looked too hard. Very sad.
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RE: When Did TWA Reach Its Peak Of Power?

Wed Aug 07, 2002 10:31 am

TWA was at it's biggest after deregulation in 1978 and continued to expand throughout the 1980s. Their 1979 timetable has a routemap and says something like "now we're even bigger". Their principal international destinations that they served for long periods of time were Athens, Cairo, Geneva, Lisbon, London, Madrid, Milan, Paris, Rome, Tel Aviv and Zurich. Here's a list of the cities that they began to serve between 1978 and 1988:

1978: Frankfurt (had been flown 1950-1975), Ft. Lauderdale, Minneapolis (dropped in 1980), Orlando, Syracuse, Vienna
1979: Ft. Myers, Houston, Knoxville, Nashville, Omaha, Palm Springs, Providence, Reno, Salt Lake City, Seattle, Toledo, West Palm Beach
1980: Albany, Rockford, San Diego
1981: Des Moines, Little Rock, Peoria (flown 1947-1960), San Antonio
1982: Dallas, New Orleans
1983: Oakland, Ontario, Portland OR, Toledo (re-instated)
1984: Atlanta, Amsterdam, Austin, Brussels, Grand Rapids, Jacksonville, Kuwait, Memphis, Milwaukee, Munich, Norfolk, Zurich (had been flown 1949-1978)
1985: Bombay (had been flown 1947-1975), Burbank, Charlotte, Copenhagen, Geneva (had been flown 1946-1979), Minneapolis (flown briefly 1978-1980), Nassau, San Juan
1986: Cedar Rapids, Champaign, Honolulu (had been flown 1969-1975), Lincoln, Madison, Moline, Raleigh/Durham, Rochester MN, Sarasota, Sioux City, Springfield MO, Stuttgart, Waterloo
1987: Berlin, Lexington, Long Beach, Santa Ana, Stockholm
1988: Hamburg, Istanbul, Oslo, Pueblo
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RE: When Did TWA Reach Its Peak Of Power?

Wed Aug 07, 2002 11:19 am

TWA was the #1 US airline across the Atlantic in 1988-89, with nonstop flights from New York/JFK, St. Louis, Chicago, Los Angeles, Baltimore, Philly, Washington DC, and Boston.

"Leading the way, TWA".

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RE: When Did TWA Reach Its Peak Of Power?

Wed Aug 07, 2002 11:58 am


ContinentalEWR, It was Pan Am that was the largest across the Atlantic in 88-89. They flew more flights across the Atlantic then the rest combined.

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RE: When Did TWA Reach Its Peak Of Power?

Wed Aug 07, 2002 12:35 pm

Oct-1990 trans-Atlantic market
1. Pan Am 14.1%
2. TWA 11.8%
3. British Airways 11.1%
4. Lufthansa 6.8%
5. American Airlines 5.5%
6. KLM Royal Dutch Airlines 5.2%
7. Air France 3.6%
8. Delta Air Lines 3.5%

Mar-1991 British-American market
1. British Airways 39%
2. Pan Am 15%
3. TWA 14%
4. Virgin Atlantic 7%
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RE: When Did TWA Reach Its Peak Of Power?

Wed Aug 07, 2002 1:04 pm

Seems there are a lot of Johnnie-come-latelys here.

TWA stock price was at its highest when Howard Hughes sold it for $565 million in the mid-sixtys. The airline, for all practical purposes went downhill since then. At that time TWA routes extended all the way to CMB.
Why did they fail....plain and simple, VERY poor shortsighted management.
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RE: When Did TWA Reach Its Peak Of Power?

Wed Aug 07, 2002 1:39 pm

Cedarjet--Saying TWA never had a big international route structure is like saying SWA doesn't go that many places in the U.S.

How about these destinations(at varying times):Heathrow, Gatwick, Shannon, Dublin, Oslo, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Brussels, Frankfurt, Munich, Berlin, Stuttgart, Vienna, Moscow, Geneva, Zurich, Milan, Rome, Paris, Nice, Madrid, Barcelona, Malaga, Lisbon, Santa Maria(Azores), Casablanca, Algeirs, Tunis, Tripoli, Cairo, Tel Aviv, Athens, Istanbul, Ryadh, Dhahran, Entebbe(Uganda), Nairobi, Dar Es Salaam, Bombay, Colombo(Sri Lanka), Bangkok, Hong Kong, Taipei, Okinawa, Guam... Did I miss anything?TC
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