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Air Florida

By Patrick Mondout

Air Florida started out in 1972 as intrastate airline flying in and out of Miami International Airport. The Deregulation Act of 1978 opened up the skies to Air Florida and it expanded rapidly under the leadership of former Braniff president Edward C. Acker. To allow for this expansion, Boeing 737s were purchase to augment the existing fleet of DC-9s. Air Florida also attempted many takeovers during the first years of deregulation, including Air California, Emerald, Piedmont and Western. As Braniff began breaking apart, it also bid for its South American routes.

By 1980, Air Florida was an international airline with routes to Central America and the Caribbean. Defenders of deregulation pointed to the success of Air Florida.

The next year, Air Florida phased out the DC-9s in favor of new 727s. Ed Acker was also "phased out" when he left to take over Pan Am, which had begun to abandon its Florida routes. Acker reversed this trend and started a fare war with Air Florida. This was the beginning of the end for Air Florida, which saw first Eli Timoner, then Donald Lloyd-Jones, and then J.R.K. Tinkle take over as president of the struggling airline.

Air Florida

N52AF - an Air Florida Boeing 737-2T4/Adv as seen in Miami in November 1981.

Image courtesy of AirNikon. Find more of his photos at


By the 1982/1983 timeframe, quarterly loses were now the norm and an unfortunate crash of a 737 in Washington D.C. damaged Air Florida's reputation. Routes were suspended, aircraft were sold or returned to the leasing companies, and employees were furloughed.

The company was declared to be in default and the company declared bankruptcy and suspended operations on July 3, 1984. Midway Airlines bought the assets of Air Florida and began flying the planes as "Midway Express" on October 15, 1984. Eventually the new Midway Express was merged into Midway Airlines.

Slogans: "Now everyone can go." "Fastest growing airline in America."

Known Fleet: Lockheed L-188 Electras, Boeing 727s, 737s, McDonnell Douglas DC-9s, DC-10s, Martin 4-0-4s.

Davies, R.E.G. Airlines of the United States Since 1914. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1982.
Hengi, B.I. Airlines Remembered: Over 200 Airlines of the Past, Described and Illustrated in Colour, Hinckley, England: Midland Publishing, 2000.
Heppenheimer, T.A. Turbulent Skies: The History of Commercial Aviation. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1995.
Norwood, Tom W. Deregulation Knockouts, Round One. Sandpoint, ID: Airways International, 1996.
Petzinger, Thomas. Hard Landing: The Epic Contest for Power and Profits That Plunged the Airlines into Chaos. New York: Times Books, 1997.
Szurovy Geza. Classic American Airlines. Motorbooks International. 2003


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Airline: Air Florida


Location: US

Flew: 1972 - July 3, 1984

Status: Assets acquired by Midwest Express. Current Air Florida is unrelated.

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