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Max Q
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Braniff and it’s Pacific operation

Mon Aug 24, 2020 7:23 am

Braniff expanded into the Pacific in the late ‘70’s and early ‘80’s quite rapidly with routes to SEL, HKG, NRT, GUM and even SIN using 747-200 and SP aircraft


And they very quickly abandoned that network after losing millions flying around mostly empty


Not really sure what they were thinking, they also over expanded domestically after deregulation and were gone soon after


Anyone have anymore insight on these Pacific routes and / or experience flying in that region with Braniff then ?
The best contribution to safety is a competent Pilot.


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Kiwiandrew
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Re: Braniff and it’s Pacific operation

Mon Aug 24, 2020 8:32 am

I read once that those running Braniff believed deregulation would not last. For that reason, they wanted to start as many routes as possible so that when regulation came back in, they would have a huge network which could be profitable in a regulated environment.
 
TN486T
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Re: Braniff and it’s Pacific operation

Mon Aug 24, 2020 8:46 am

I suggest you get hold of a book "Splash of Colors" written by John J Nance. Its all about "The self destruction of Braniff International" It gives you a detailed insight in to the thinking of the President and others in this sorry saga. The book was published in 1984, and I picked up a copy in a used book store some years ago.
 
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Phosphorus
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Re: Braniff and it’s Pacific operation

Mon Aug 24, 2020 9:23 am

Kiwiandrew wrote:
I read once that those running Braniff believed deregulation would not last. For that reason, they wanted to start as many routes as possible so that when regulation came back in, they would have a huge network which could be profitable in a regulated environment.

Quite right! Braniff bosses thought deregulation would be seen for a folly that it was, and quickly abandoned. Their vision was "no rollback" -- i.e. whatever routes they flew -- they'd get to keep. So they tried to expand at all costs. In addition to Pacific, they had a London route, if memory serves me.

Interestingly, it wasn't just the airlines that failed saw deregulation as a nonsense. Those who used it to the fullest (to the benefit of their airlines, or their own benefit) often believed that too.
Crandall was famously criticizing the very idea of deregulation, saying "they have no idea what they are doing".
Even the man the industry just loves to hate, Frank Lorenzo, took his time to go the Capitol Hill, to give testimony against upcoming deregulation. The crux of his message was "whatever benefits deregulation is supposed to bring, will be financed at the expense of airline employees" or something fairly close. When deregulation happened, that was exactly what he did.
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CrewBunk
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Re: Braniff and it’s Pacific operation

Mon Aug 24, 2020 2:12 pm

Kiwiandrew wrote:
I read once that those running Braniff believed deregulation would not last. For that reason, they wanted to start as many routes as possible so that when regulation came back in, they would have a huge network which could be profitable in a regulated environment.


Pan American’s board thought the same thing.

Their purchase of National, we now know to be folly, was in fact thought a godsend at the time, as they could now quickly access the American domestic market. Had deregulation occurred without the purchase, they would not have been able to expand quickly enough, for what they thought was coming ...... cancellation of deregulation.

Two large airlines bet the farm on a hunch ...... and lost.
 
CairnterriAIR
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Re: Braniff and it’s Pacific operation

Mon Aug 24, 2020 3:55 pm

Like what others here have said....Harding truly believed that deregulation would be reverted. So he took the chance to expand the carrier as quickly as possible. But two things happened. First off deregulation stuck. They could have slowly built the carrier like most everybody else did. They may have even could have made it with the huge expansion.....but add in factor number two...the price of fuel skyrocketed and the country entered a recession. Routes that were new and sustainable at a low cost of fuel could not be sustained at a higher rate. Sheer bad luck. The Pacific routes could not develop under those conditions....the Pacific routes also lacked decent connectivity to the Braniff domestic system. From most destinations in the network it was a triple connection with multiple stops in between as well. To fly from Hartford CT to any of the cities in the pacific other than Hawaii in 1980 involved changing planes twice and five stops along the way. Even back then you could find faster routings.
 
sprxUSA
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Re: Braniff and it’s Pacific operation

Mon Aug 24, 2020 4:48 pm

Also, BN did more in Europe than just London.
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Ionosphere
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Re: Braniff and it’s Pacific operation

Mon Aug 24, 2020 5:22 pm

sprxUSA wrote:
Also, BN did more in Europe than just London.


March 1, 1980
BOS-AMS/BRU/FRA/ORY all 747 service
DFW-AMS/FRA/LGW
 
MO11
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Re: Braniff and it’s Pacific operation

Mon Aug 24, 2020 5:57 pm

Remember that deregulation didn't apply to international routes; Braniff was granted an exemption to operate the Pacific routes that it did. It tried to capitalize on the South America-Asia market by operating through service over Los Angeles. One flight went from Hong Kong to Buenos Aires via Guam, LAX, and Santiago. Also, Singapore to Rio de Janeiro over Seoul, LAX, and Lima. The flights only operated once or twice per week (Hong Kong-Guam-LAX was more frequent).
 
MIflyer12
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Re: Braniff and it’s Pacific operation

Mon Aug 24, 2020 6:02 pm

Ionosphere wrote:
sprxUSA wrote:
Also, BN did more in Europe than just London.


March 1, 1980
BOS-AMS/BRU/FRA/ORY all 747 service
DFW-AMS/FRA/LGW


My first 747 flight was BN BOS-AMS-ORY in June 1979. I don't know if they operated BOS-ORY non-stop in that era. The BOS TATL ops didn't last long.

By 1981, all 747 service to Asia and Europe with the exception of nonstop flights between Dallas/Fort Worth and London had been discontinued

Yes, sorry, Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Braniff_I ... _expansion

(But it's a Pacific ops thread.)
 
luckyone
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Re: Braniff and it’s Pacific operation

Mon Aug 24, 2020 7:01 pm

Slightly off topic, but there's a documentary about the last days of Braniff:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9LsIr9l9VIs
 
jfk777
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Re: Braniff and it’s Pacific operation

Mon Aug 24, 2020 7:08 pm

Braniff never flew to Tokyo, they bet the Pacific on it but time ran out before a Braniff plane ever landed a scheduled flight at Narita.
 
hondah35
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Re: Braniff and it’s Pacific operation

Mon Aug 24, 2020 7:31 pm

The bottom line with Braniff is that the world changed. The era of customers preferring a high-touch and upscale service environment with sumptuous meals and surroundings, and elegant artistic touches and flourishes, came to an end. The airline industry changed starting in the late 70's/early 80's, and Braniff's DNA was such that it couldn't possibly remake itself into something that worked.
 
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klm617
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Re: Braniff and it’s Pacific operation

Mon Aug 24, 2020 8:12 pm

MIflyer12 wrote:
Ionosphere wrote:
sprxUSA wrote:
Also, BN did more in Europe than just London.


March 1, 1980
BOS-AMS/BRU/FRA/ORY all 747 service
DFW-AMS/FRA/LGW


My first 747 flight was BN BOS-AMS-ORY in June 1979. I don't know if they operated BOS-ORY non-stop in that era. The BOS TATL ops didn't last long.

By 1981, all 747 service to Asia and Europe with the exception of nonstop flights between Dallas/Fort Worth and London had been discontinued

Yes, sorry, Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Braniff_I ... _expansion

(But it's a Pacific ops thread.)


I did BOS-FRA-BRU-BOS in 1980. Pretty spectacular to actually log a Braniff 747 in your flight log. One interesting note is that BOS-BRU started with a DC-8-62 rather than a 747
Last edited by klm617 on Mon Aug 24, 2020 8:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.
the truth does matter, guys. too bad it's often quite subjective. the truth is beyond the mere facts and figures. it's beyond good and bad, right and wrong...
 
IAHWorldflyer
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Re: Braniff and it’s Pacific operation

Mon Aug 24, 2020 8:12 pm

It should also be noted that Braniff did a significant amount of MAC charter business during the Viet Nam War, flying troops into and out of the theater, as well as operating R&R charters to places like HKG, Tokyo, and Manila. These were mostly done using B707 aricraft they had purchased from Qantas, as well as some of their DC8 fleet. So management had familiarity with Pacific operations. In the late 70's they ordered up some 747-200's and 747SP's to use on these routes. The biggest factor in their demise was that jet fuel prices quickly escalated around 1980, and they couldn't fly those birds around half empty and make any money. They also had very high overhead. Harding Lawrence considered Braniff to be a luxury carrier, and paid Pucci , and later Halston, to design the uniforms, had leather seating, and had Eames design the chairs at the gates and ticket offices. When deregulation came, the lower fares didn't pay for all that nice stuff.
 
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klm617
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Re: Braniff and it’s Pacific operation

Mon Aug 24, 2020 8:15 pm

Ionosphere wrote:
sprxUSA wrote:
Also, BN did more in Europe than just London.


March 1, 1980
BOS-AMS/BRU/FRA/ORY all 747 service
DFW-AMS/FRA/LGW


DFW and BOS were both connected to AMS, BRU, FRA and ORY nonstop with the 747
the truth does matter, guys. too bad it's often quite subjective. the truth is beyond the mere facts and figures. it's beyond good and bad, right and wrong...
 
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klm617
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Re: Braniff and it’s Pacific operation

Mon Aug 24, 2020 8:19 pm

hondah35 wrote:
The bottom line with Braniff is that the world changed. The era of customers preferring a high-touch and upscale service environment with sumptuous meals and surroundings, and elegant artistic touches and flourishes, came to an end. The airline industry changed starting in the late 70's/early 80's, and Braniff's DNA was such that it couldn't possibly remake itself into something that worked.


A lot of airlines suffered from this not just Braniff. One of Braniff's problems was it have a largely fragmented network for the most part when most airlines were transitioning to a hub and spoke network.
the truth does matter, guys. too bad it's often quite subjective. the truth is beyond the mere facts and figures. it's beyond good and bad, right and wrong...
 
superjeff
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Re: Braniff and it’s Pacific operation

Mon Aug 24, 2020 8:25 pm

IAHWorldflyer wrote:
It should also be noted that Braniff did a significant amount of MAC charter business during the Viet Nam War, flying troops into and out of the theater, as well as operating R&R charters to places like HKG, Tokyo, and Manila. These were mostly done using B707 aricraft they had purchased from Qantas, as well as some of their DC8 fleet. So management had familiarity with Pacific operations. In the late 70's they ordered up some 747-200's and 747SP's to use on these routes. The biggest factor in their demise was that jet fuel prices quickly escalated around 1980, and they couldn't fly those birds around half empty and make any money. They also had very high overhead. Harding Lawrence considered Braniff to be a luxury carrier, and paid Pucci , and later Halston, to design the uniforms, had leather seating, and had Eames design the chairs at the gates and ticket offices. When deregulation came, the lower fares didn't pay for all that nice stuff.


Actually, the MAC charters were done with 707-327C's that Braniff acquired specifically for that purpose in the mid 1960's, and eventually transitioned them to DAL-HNL when they got that route authority in 1969.

In 1978, at Deregulation, Braniff grabbed every route that was available (the first step in deregulation was that an airline could grab a non-used authority. Braniff picked up some good ones, like Continental's DAL-LAX route, and some not-so-good ones, like an attempt to create a focus city (today's language) at BHM.

The problem, as others have stated, was that Braniff expanded at a time that would ordinarily have worked, they had a great fleet of 727-200's at the time, for U.S. domestic service, plus their DC8-62's for South America, and 747's for HNL and LGW. If not for the Iranian hostage situation in 1979, they would have been just fine, but that caused a doubling of fuel costs, plus a deep recession in the U.S., so they couldn't get rid of their excess airplanes. Nobody knew how to navigate a Chapter 11 Bankruptcy at the time, do they didn't file until they were totally out of cash (and many people who worked for Braniff in the day also felt that Howard Putman, who the banks brought in to try and save Braniff, wasn't up for the job.

I worked at Braniff from 1972 to mid 1977, and loved the company. As for their Pacific routes, there were some other issues: a curfew at Seoul, not that much traffic on their Singapore routing, and limited ability to operate profitably into Guam or Hong Kong both come to mind. There were a couple of attempts to merge, with both Pan Am and Eastern at various times (Ed Acker, who was president of Pan Am for awhile, was also number 2 under Harding Lawrence at Braniff as well, but by then, they were probably too far gone.
 
Max Q
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Re: Braniff and it’s Pacific operation

Tue Aug 25, 2020 1:30 am

MO11 wrote:
Remember that deregulation didn't apply to international routes; Braniff was granted an exemption to operate the Pacific routes that it did. It tried to capitalize on the South America-Asia market by operating through service over Los Angeles. One flight went from Hong Kong to Buenos Aires via Guam, LAX, and Santiago. Also, Singapore to Rio de Janeiro over Seoul, LAX, and Lima. The flights only operated once or twice per week (Hong Kong-Guam-LAX was more frequent).



This is key, Braniff was perhaps way ahead of its time with those pacific routes, UA saw the potential a few years later and made probably the best airline investment of all time by purchasing PAA’s entire route system in the pacific, it has paid off well, allowing them to deploy a large fleet of 744, 777 and now 787 aircraft profitably across the region, excluding today’s grim times, that business will return



Another significant point, it was the denial of route authority for Braniff to operate a non stop 747 service from DFW to NRT that instigated their alternate pacific route strategy that was an unfortunate failure



Anyone fly with them on those Pacific routers, curious what the experience was like ?
The best contribution to safety is a competent Pilot.


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eta unknown
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Re: Braniff and it’s Pacific operation

Tue Aug 25, 2020 10:05 am

I'd say those BN Asia-South America connections were more a case of schedule coincidence rather than intention.
 
MIflyer12
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Re: Braniff and it’s Pacific operation

Tue Aug 25, 2020 12:55 pm

hondah35 wrote:
The bottom line with Braniff is that the world changed. The era of customers preferring a high-touch and upscale service environment with sumptuous meals and surroundings, and elegant artistic touches and flourishes, came to an end. The airline industry changed starting in the late 70's/early 80's, and Braniff's DNA was such that it couldn't possibly remake itself into something that worked.


In the last two decades of U.S. airline regulation airlines COULDN'T compete on price (the CAB set minimums), routes (those were assigned and balance was a goal) or frequencies (to avoid excess capacity that couldn't be absorbed - minimum prices, remember). The only way carriers could compete was on service elements - the latest shiny aircraft, meals, lounges, (and for some carriers, uniforms that showed a lot of skin). Four decades later this forum sees new threads every week about how flying 'isn't what it used to be.' No carrier evolved quickly out of that environment (WN, with solely intra-Texas routes, was exempt from CAB regulation and that environment). http://www.departedflights.com/WN070178.html

Business model change isn't DNA, it's intellect and leadership (hopefully with enough cash flow to make the transition). Braniff's failure was fundamentally no different from Pan Am or Eastern. Poor TWA died by millions of Icahn Karabu cuts.
 
MO11
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Re: Braniff and it’s Pacific operation

Tue Aug 25, 2020 1:12 pm

eta unknown wrote:
I'd say those BN Asia-South America connections were more a case of schedule coincidence rather than intention.


No sir, per CAB data they were intended.
 
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eta unknown
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Re: Braniff and it’s Pacific operation

Tue Aug 25, 2020 1:45 pm

Maybe intended after BN internally fixed their schedule then presented the coincidences with a connection footnote to CAB. IMO BN management didn't possess a worldwide skillset- the operation was mostly US O&D. The Pacific expansion was nothing more than an expensive route grab exercise and even of regulation returned their routes were so peculiar there was limited demand anyway. Let's not try to rewrite history here...
 
IAHWorldflyer
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Re: Braniff and it’s Pacific operation

Tue Aug 25, 2020 3:24 pm

eta unknown wrote:
Maybe intended after BN internally fixed their schedule then presented the coincidences with a connection footnote to CAB. IMO BN management didn't possess a worldwide skillset- the operation was mostly US O&D. The Pacific expansion was nothing more than an expensive route grab exercise and even of regulation returned their routes were so peculiar there was limited demand anyway. Let's not try to rewrite history here...



Actually, BN had purchased Panagra ( Pan American-Grace) Airways in 1967. This gave them routes down the West coast of South America from Miami, and enabled connections from existing Texas-Central America/Northern South America routes. They had a pretty big focus on those Latin American operations all during the 1970's. Even the ticket offices had pieces of Latin American art from the private collection of Alexander Girard, who was responsible for much of their marketing ideas. While connecting East Asia to South America was not the main reason for the routes, it certainly played a part in their business case.

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