Presidential "Airways"........It was started by a guy named Hap Parretti. (sp?)
He was an officer at PEOPLExpress and decided to leave PEOPLE to start Presidential out of IAD
. At first they planned on using 727-200's, but they found some 737-200's and used them instead. There routes were initially from Dulles to Miami, Columbus, and Boston, but they grew to include Atlanta, Savannah, New York LaGuardia, West Palm, Tampa, Hartford, Orlando, and Detroit. This was all around 1985. In 1986, they decided to get some BAe146's and when they did, they added a few other cities like Islip and Mobile as well as a few routes outside of the traditional Dulles hub. Nonstops from BOS
, and a lot of flights within Florida. They reached their peak around the end of 1986 when they bought out KEYAIR, a Las Vegas based charter outfit. KEY Continued to operate separately, but on weekends, Presidential offered scheduled charter flights from IAD
to Montego Bay, Barbados, Antigua, St. Croix, and St. Lucia using Key Aircraft, but under Presidential flight numbers. Surprisingly, Presidential offered a nonstop Dulles-Antigua flight with there own aircraft. I would imagine a 737, as I don't think the 146's could make it that far. Also, in 1986, Presidential bought Colgan Air, a commuter carrier based in Manassas and started commuter flights in Florida using Caribbean Express Airlines as an affiliate. The flights were marketed under the name "Presidential 1".
Now here's where it gets tricky. In 1987, Continental was making a hub at Dulles. Presidential was not able to compete, so they signed a deal to become Continental Express. Imagine Continental Express 737's.......they existed! After a few months, Continental told Presidential to drop the 737's. Presidential sold all but one of them (the Dole plane) and continued to use 146's and the Colgan fleet to serve as Continental Express. They even ordered Jetstream 31's to replace the Colgan Beech 99's. When United started building Dulles up, Continental pulled their hub, and Presidential went back to being there own carrier again. They repainted the 146's and Jetstreams in the regular Presidential colors and started flying to places like Melbourne; Elkins, WV
; Morgantown, WV
; Hot Springs, VA; Daytona Beach; Shenandoah Valley, VA; Elmira; Williamsport, PA; and Mobile. It didn't take long for Presidential to lose money and they nearly shutdown.
United came to the rescue and signed Presidential on as United Express. At that point, KEY AIR
was sold to WorldCorp and Dash 8's were ordered. The operation started to fold in 1988. I remember one Jetstream was used for spare parts for the rest of the fleet. By December of 1989, things looked pretty bleak and Presidential filed Chapter 11 and shut down. Most assets were picked up by West Air and Atlantic Coast Airlines was formed.
I flew them as a kid a few times when they were an independent carrier. I flew from Dulles to Orlando and back and I think from West Palm Beach to Miami. The thing that sticks in my head more than anything is the fact that they had leather seats in coach.