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Texas International

By Patrick Mondout

Trans Texas Airways (TTa) began in the 1940s providing intrastate service. The little airline was the subject of many jokes and it was said that TTa really stood for Tree Top Airlines. No one would have predicted how big it would become.

Frank Lorenzo and Harvard buddy Robert Carney purchased the debt-laden company in 1972. They cut unprofitable routes and raised fares and profits rose each year through 1978. Then came deregulation. Lorenzo was better prepared than most for such an environment as he had faced it in Texas against Southwest Airlines (regional carriers did not face the stiff CAB regulations in their intrastate routes).

Texas Air went on a feeding frenzy of acquisitions. It first attempted to acquire National Airlines, but after purchasing a significant amount of its stock, Pan Am stepped in and outbid them. However, they made a profit of $47M on the sale of their National Airlines stock. Lorenzo then reorganized TI into a holding company called Texas Air.

Texas International

N5726 - a Texas International DC-9-14 as seen in Los Angeles International (LAX / KLAX), April 1974.

Image courtesy of AirNikon. Find more of his photos at


This new holding company started New York Air as a non-union carrier to compete with Eastern's union-based "Air-Shuttle" service between their base in New York and Boston and Washington D.C. New York Air pilots received approximately half the wages of other airline pilots along this route and this not surprisingly outraged union activists who now saw Lorenzo as public enemy #1.

Lorenzo bought many airlines including People Express (founded by ex-TIA president Donald Burr), Frontier, and finally Continental. Continental's name - which had been when of the most respected before deregulation (and Frank Lorenzo) - was retained and Texas Air would continue to exist but only as the holding company and not the name of an airline.

Slogans: "Together we're even better" (during the merger with Continental).

Known Fleet: Convair 240s, 660s, Boeing 747s, McDonnell Douglas DC-3s, DC-9s, DC-10s.

Bernstein, Aaron. Grounded: Frank Lorenzo and the Destruction of Eastern Airlines. Beard Group, 1999.
Bethune, Gordon. From Worst to First : Behind the Scenes of Continental's Remarkable Comeback. John Wiley & Sons, 1999.
Davies, R.E.G. Airlines of the United States Since 1914. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1982.

Delaney, Kevin J. Strategic Bankruptcy: How Corporations and Creditors Use Chapter 11 to Their Advantage, reprint edition. University of California Press, 1999
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: Texas International

AKA: TIA, Trans-Texas Airways

Location: US


Status: Purchased Continental but kept the Continental name.

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