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
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
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 Airliners.net
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
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,