Aviation Regulation – History and Practice – Part 5

Aviation Regulation – History and Practice

Part Five

This part covers economic deregulation of U.S. airlines, U.S. liberalization of international air transportation and the advent of Open Skies Air Services Agreements.


The Road to Deregulation

In the United States, during the decades after World War II, the airline industry experienced a veritable explosion of technological advances, growth and service improvement. And in 1969, there emerged one aircraft that could be credited for setting in motion moves to dramatically change the economic structure and rock the foundation of the industry. Boeing 747That aircraft would be the Boeing 747. With its introduction, capacity tripled on the routes on which it operated. Originally deployed on Pan American’s principle international routes, it was soon seen on the routes of the major U.S. domestic airlines (the “trunk” carriers) and on key international routes of foreign flagged carriers. Soon thereafter, the McDonnell Douglas DC-10 and Lockheed L-1011 wide-body aircraft were pressed into service. This increase of capacity created a need to “fill the seats” both domestically and internationally. On the domestic side, it was increasingly obvious that the CAB’s regulatory functions were seriously challenged due to the expanding scale of aviation markets. Pricing policies were viewed as insufficient, resulting in high costs for the passenger. The focus began shifting toward the consumer.

747 rollout 1968

However, adversity struck when this new capacity coincided with a serious economic recession in 1970. What resulted was widely criticized CAB regulatory policies, including a four-year moratorium on all new route cases and approval of a series of agreements among airlines to limit capacity over certain major routes. On top of that, the CAB pricing policies were increasingly viewed as fostering inefficiency, higher costs and higher prices. It was pointed out that the intrastate airlines in California (Pacific Southwest Airlines) and Texas (Southwest), free from CAB regulation, were charging lower per-mile fares than those CAB regulated airlines and were operating profitably.

Boeing_727-214-Adv,_PSA_-_PSA Ted Quackenbush     Southwest_737-2H4Adv_N29SW Eduard marmet

This situation was exacerbated in 1973 with the Arab oil embargo and the ensuing massive increase in oil costs. This prompted a series of fare increases, but with cost increases exceeding increases in yields, another period of poor airline earnings followed.

In this atmosphere, two reports were released:

The first, from within the CAB, concluded that protective entry and exit control and public utility-type price regulation were not justified by the underlying costs and demand characteristics of commercial air transportation and that they should be eliminated by statutory amendment.

DC-10-N1838U-ORD-8180-860x498     L-1011-N11003-ORD-377-H-860x479

The second report, from the Subcommittee on Administrative Practice and Procedure of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, headed by Senator Edward Kennedy, suggested that prices should and would be lower with a more competitive system and that the CAB had not been effective in maintaining low prices. The report further stated that it was economically and technically possible to provide air service at significantly lower prices, bringing air travel within reach of the average American citizen.

This sudden growth of anti-regulation sentiment resulted in the introduction of the first deregulation bills. This started the legislation that culminated in the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978.

However, even before the Act’s passage, the CAB began its own steps toward deregulation, Kahnwhen Chairman John Robson, who took office in 1975, began relaxing the scheduled service route moratorium. Also, the airlines were given greater flexibility to reduce fares. With the appointment of Alfred Kahn as Chairman by President Jimmy Carter in 1977, the policies of relaxation escalated. Applications for new authority were processed and approved, in particular those applications that promised lower fares. At the same time, the Carter Administration was seeking agreements with foreign governments to permit more international competition and stood ready to authorize as much international service by U.S. airlines as foreign governments would accept. There was also far greater receptivity to fare reductions.

To kick it off, American Airlines introduced the Advance Purchase Excursion fare (APEX), called the “Supersaver”, which offered deep discounts on regular coach fares with restrictions.

747 and DC-10 at LAX 1976 LostPineJim     N6110A-ORD-91060-H--860x562

The move to deregulation had begun, however, with reservations. There was opposition from most airlines, as well as labor unions and financial institutions with investment in the industry. The arguments in opposition covered a broad range of concerns:

Deterioration of the industry’s excellent safety record;

Probable concentration of service in high density markets with a consequent deterioration of service in others, and in particular, those serving small communities;

Impairment of the air transportation “system”, with its conveniences of through baggage handling, interline ticketing, etc.;

Destructive and predatory price competition, resulting in earnings deterioration and, ultimately, industry concentration;

Reduced ability to re-equip and to finance other available technological advances; and

Adverse impact on airline employees.

These arguments failed to halt the move to deregulation, and in fact, in 1977, with little or no fanfare, the domestic all-cargo service was deregulated. It simply provided that any airline operating under authority or exemption that had provided any scheduled domestic all-cargo service could apply for any or all domestic all-cargo routes and the CAB would grant the application unless the applicant was found not “fit, willing and able” to provide such service.

Time Mag Pic-Aviation

The Airline Deregulation Act of 1978

On 6 February 1978, Senator Howard Cannon of Nevada introduced Senate Bill S. 2493. The bill passed both the Senate and the House of Representatives and was signed into law by President Jimmy Carter on 24 October 1978. It became known as the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978.Carter signing deregulation act

The Act dealt primarily with U.S. domestic air transportation, recognizing that no one government could by itself deregulate international service.

The theme of the Act was that maximum reliance on competition would bring about the objectives of efficiency, innovation, low prices and price/service options while still providing the needed air transportation system. At the same time, the Act recognized the needs of the small communities and isolated areas in the U.S. and provided for direct federal assistance through the “Essential Air Service” provision. Restrictions on domestic service entry were gradually lifted and the standard for granting route applications was changed from the pre-existing requirement that the proposed transportation was “required by the public convenience and necessity” to a finding that it was “consistent with public convenience and necessity”. In addition, it was the burden of opponents to prove lack of such consistency. The CAB, however, was still required to determine that the applicant was “fit, willing and able” to provide the service. By the end of 1981, for all intents and purposes, all airlines (and would-be airlines) were free to serve, or cease serving, any and all domestic routes and cities.

In the area of pricing, pending complete deregulation at the end of 1982, the “standard industry fare levels” were retained and the CAB consideration in exercising its rate regulation functions was amended to give more weight to the desirability of low fares and increased pricing and service options. In the area of antitrust, certain types of inter-airline agreements, actions and relationships were removed from CAB jurisdiction and thus left to general antitrust laws. In addition the automatic “antitrust immunity” for any CAB approved agreement or transaction was repealed. Other provisions included the ending of the Mutual Aid Pact and provisions for the protection of employees adversely affected by the Act. The Act (along with the Warsaw/Montreal Convention with regard to international flights) also had the effect of preempting state law with regard to claims against airlines for delays, discrimination, consumer protection violations and other allegations of passenger mistreatment. Safety and technical matters remained with the FAA.

The most important of the Act’s provisions, however, was the “sunset” of the CAB. On 1 January 1985, the CAB closed its doors and what remaining functions it had were transferred to the Department of Transportation. These included international routes, certification of new carriers, consumer protection and jurisdiction over airline mergers and agreements.

Below is a post-deregulation route map of United Airlines. Compare to its route map during the regulated era covered in Part 4 of this story.


Midway_Airlines_Boeing_737-Torsten Maiwald     New York Air DC-9 Eduard Marmet

PE at LGW Eduard marmet

The International Air Transportation Act of 1979

As previously noted, it was beyond the power of any one government to deregulate international air transportation. Therefore the policy of the U.S. government was focused on increased competition.

As background, as far back as the early 1960s, the U.S. had a decided advantage over the European (and other) airlines. Although these airlines were able to catch up at one point, it was hardly at the expense of the U.S. airlines. The lack of capacity controls, coupled with the introduction of bigger and better aircraft, forced a downward pressure on fares to fill these aircraft. However, in the spring of 1963, IATA, backed by the European governments, increased fares when the CAB thought fares should remain stable. IATA stood by its position and won the fight, but at a heavy cost. The CAB’s response was to boost the supplemental carriers, the “non-skeds”, giving them permanent certificates so that they could purchase jet aircraft. The CAB also authorized split charters and inclusive-tour charters, enabling vacation travel to the public at bargain prices. Because of this, the scheduled airlines’ traffic in international markets declined although the overall market share stayed high as the supplemental carriers were predominantly American.

The Europeans initially resisted the supplemental airlines because they were not provided for in the post-war bilateral agreements. But because the Europeans were not united, only those countries that could count on a separate and distinct market, such as Israel, were able to avoid the charter problem. Travel to Europe, at least in the tourist market, was not necessarily point-to-point. Rather it was more regional. It did not matter what the port of entry was. Depending on the fare, a tourist could arrive in Amsterdam, travel around the continent, and leave from Paris.

The response of the scheduled airlines in the late 1960s and early 1970s was to develop a schedule of fares that were so complicated, hardly anyone could keep up. Excursion fares, inclusive tour fares, advance purchase fares, off-peak fares, were all introduced. In a sense, this was the beginning of price competition in international aviation. However, under IATA rules, it was not possible for any single carrier or group of carriers to experiment with a promotional fare to see if it would create new traffic. Thus, if one carrier could offer a special fare, all could, and unless all would do it, none could. And, by the time IATA was ready to invite the supplemental carriers to join, both Pan American and TWA had started charter services in the North Atlantic.

707 Cabin     PA-TWA 707

For the scheduled airlines, load factors continued to fall with a resultant loss of profits. The introduction of the wide body aircraft increased capacity, but did not produce the traffic increases that were predicted. And in the face of this, no one airline was prepared to curtail or reduce services for fear that its competitors would capture a greater share of the traffic. The CAB did approve capacity-restraint agreements, whereby Pan American would give up its Paris authority in exchange for TWA giving up its Frankfurt authority. This approval was done with the express hope that the over-capacity would come to pass. The prevailing view in Washington was to adhere to the Bermuda Agreement with no predetermination or no interference by governments in matters of capacity.

In 1974, Pan American lost $80 million, its sixth straight year of massive financial setbacks. Meanwhile, fares that had gone down during the 1960s and 70s began to rise, and in 1974, up to 30% on some routes. The foreign flag carriers also felt the pinch and like Pan American and TWA, began a retreat from some of their hard-earned routes to the U.S., particularly to the west coast. It was during this time the non-communist world felt the effects of inflation and recession, fuel shortages, price increases and unemployment all impacting in the worst way, discretionary travel.

In this setting, in 1975, President Ford called for a study on the possibility of regulatory reform in international aviation. And while this study was being conducted, in mid-1976, the British announced their intent to terminate the Bermuda Agreement. The British were strongly committed to the protection of its own airlines (particularly government-owned British Airways) and believed the agreement was inadequate to prevent operation of excess capacity and that the agreement was also unbalanced in favor of the U.S. airlines. In particular, the British wished to reduce the authority of U.S. airlines to carry Fifth Freedom traffic. There were other issues, including the manner in which the CAB exercised authority over rates, and, although not made explicit, a high degree of British irritation at U.S. public resistance to the introduction of supersonic Concorde service.

British_Concorde by Plismo

Negotiations on a new agreement were difficult and were exacerbated by a change in presidential administrations (from Ford to Carter) halfway through the 12-month negotiating period. The British held firm and it was not until the last moment when a new, more restrictive agreement was achieved, signed on 23 July 1977 and referred to as Bermuda II. Among other things, it limited the number of scheduled carriers operating at London Heathrow Airport to two from each side, enabled greater government control over capacity, required government review of proposed fares and routes after review by IATA, required government approval on pricing, reduced Fifth Freedom rights to U.S. carriers, granted additional U.S. gateways, allowed new carriers to operate at London’s Gatwick Airport and permitted Laker Airways to enter the north Atlantic market.

Virgin_Atlantic_G-VIRG_by_Steve_Fitzgerald     BA 747-100_in_BOAC_basic_livery_Eduard Marmet

McDonnell_Douglas_DC-10-10,_Laker_Airways_Skytrain_Steve Fitzgerald

Pan American and TWA Aircraft at London Heathrow, 1989

In 1978, as domestic deregulation was progressing, the administration of President Jimmy Carter began examination of the Bermuda II agreement with Great Britain. The finding was that it was overly protectionist and gave an unfair advantage to the British carriers. Encouraged by the CAB’s deregulation of the domestic airline industry and the success of Laker’s “Skytrain”, the Carter administration began to push a policy of free-market competition in the international arena. In a policy statement issued in 1978, the administration pledged to “work to achieve a system of international air transportation that places its principle reliance on actual and potential competition to determine the variety, quality and price of air service. An essential means for carrying out our international air transport policy will be to allow greater competitive opportunities for U.S. and foreign airlines and to promote new low-cost transportation options for travelers and shippers.”

As a result of this, the U.S. government began considering a way to seek more liberal, pro-competitive agreements with other governments.

These included:

Unrestricted entry by an unlimited number of carriers;

Unlimited authority to carry Fifth Freedom traffic;

No government constraints on capacity;

Carrier freedom on pricing, unless both governments disapproved; and

Foreign government acceptance of U.S. charter regulations.

The U.S. government saw these agreements as a means to put pressure on “recalcitrant” governments in the same general geographic area through an “encirclement” theory. Thus, the United Kingdom would be pressured by expansion of air service to and via Belgium and The Netherlands and Japan would be pressured by a similar agreement with South Korea.

It should be noted that the ability to achieve these agreements was by giving greater access to U.S. cities and the resultant economic benefit derived therefrom.

Although there was opposition to this policy, liberal bilateral agreements were achieved with a number of countries, and in 1980, the International Air Transportation Act of 1979 was enacted by Congress. Although the Act was more or less an international counterpart to the domestic Airline Deregulation Act, it did implement U.S. policy on international aviation.

Major provisions included:

Strengthen the competitive position of U.S. carriers to at least ensure equality with foreign carriers;

Freedom to offer consumer-oriented fares and rates;

Eliminate marketing and operational restrictions, including capacity, routes and operating rights for scheduled carriers;

Eliminate discrimination and unfair marketing practices;

Provide additional U.S. gateways to foreign carriers; and

Designation of additional U.S. carriers in international markets.

In the early 1980s, a recession, rising oil prices and an air traffic controllers strike disrupted the domestic market and the airline industry fell into a period of financial losses. In addition was the first “casualty” of deregulation, the bankruptcy and shut-down of Braniff Airways. As a result, the pursuit of a pro-competitive international policy came to a temporary end, but there continued a view that this policy would prevail over time.

DC-8-53-HB-IDD-JFK-665-WO-860x534 proctorThe mid-1980s saw an economic turnaround and the U.S. carriers began to experience a recovery, particularly in the international markets. It was also becoming evident that greater growth was being realized in the liberal markets, those with a liberal bilateral agreement, than the more restricted markets. Although the liberal markets were not large, trading open access in a foreign country for expanded access to the U.S. appeared to benefit the traveling public.

As the economy strengthened into the late 1980s, the U.S. looked to aggressively pursue liberal ASAs, and eventually implemented a policy of negotiating “Open Skies” agreements with foreign governments.

In effect, deregulation took the political sphere out of the airline industry and replaced it747-243B-I-DEMF-JFK-1017841 proctor with a liberalized economic and market sphere. The economic liberalization of air travel was part of a series of “deregulation” moves based on the growing realization that a politically controlled economy served no continuing public interest. This also put to an end the notion that airlines were an extension of national policy.

707-330B-D-ABUG-JFK-Peter-Black-860x454 proctor     DC-10-30-SE-DFE-JFK-3186 proctor

Open Skies Agreements

By 1982 the United States had signed twenty-three liberal ASAs world-wide, mainly with smaller nations. In the 1990s, similar agreements were achieved with individual European states. A major breakthrough was achieved in 1992, however, when the Netherlands signed the first Open Skies agreement with the United States, despite objections by European Union authorities. The U.S. subsequently granted antitrust immunity to a code-share alliance between Northwest Airlines and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, which started in 1989 (when Northwest and KLM agreed to code sharing on a large scale), the first of the large airline alliances that would form in later years.

The key provisions of Open Skies agreements include:

Free market competition;

No restrictions on international route rights, number of designated airlines, capacity, frequencies, and types of aircraft;

Pricing determined by market forces – “double disapproval” authorized:

Designated carriers are free to provide their own ground-handling services

User charges are non-discriminatory and based on costs;

Computer reservation system displays are transparent and non-discriminatory;

Cooperative marketing arrangements;

Designated airlines may enter into code-sharing or leasing arrangements, subject to usual regulations;

Code-sharing between airlines and surface transportation companies authorized;

Provisions for dispute settlement and consultation;

Liberal charter arrangements;

Each government agrees to observe high standards of aviation safety and security, and to render assistance to the other in certain circumstances; and

Seventh Freedom all-cargo rights.


No Cabotage; and

Restrictions on Ownership and Control.

The U.S. now has Open Skies agreements with 112 nations and cargo-only Open Skies agreements with Argentina and Vietnam.

Below is a map of United Airlines international routes. Compare to Pan American’s world routes on page 41. United acquired Pan American’s Pacific routes in 1985, its London Heathrow route in 1990 and the remainder of its Latin America routes when Pan American ceased operations on 4 December 1991.



The next installment of this story, Part 6, will cover the development of airlines in countries from the former Soviet Union, the growth of the “Sixth Freedom” airlines, particularly in the Middle East, Liberalization of Air Transportation in Europe and Multilateral Liberalization of Air Transportation.





The Pan Am Series – Part XXIII: Panagra

Pan American-Grace Airways


It might come as a surprise, but probably one of the most unknown of U.S. international airlines pioneered one of the key segments in Juan Trippe’s quest to circle South America with airline routes. That airline was Pan American-Grace Airways.

Once Pan American Airways began operations in 1928, it soon became clear that Juan Trippe was intent on operating routes south of the Caribbean and around the entire continent of South America. His most important destination, according to Ron Davies in Pan Am – An Airline and Its Aircraft, was Buenos Aires, the “Paris of South America”. The plan, according to Robert Daley in An American Saga – Juan Trippe and His Pan Am Empire, were two lines in South America itself. One down the west coast to Santiago, Chile and the other down the east coast to Buenos Aires. The shortest route to Buenos Aires, however, was by the west coast, and Juan Trippe needed the landing and traffic rights to set up that route. He was faced with a formidable challenge. And if it was not for Pan American-Grace Airways, Panagra, that west coast passage would not have been possible.

It all started in Peru.

In 1854, William R. Grace, the son of an Irish immigrant, founded the W. R. Grace and Company in Peru, where he worked as a ship’s chandler. In 1865 his brother Michael joined the business and the company name was changed to Grace Brothers & Co with head offices in New York City. The company was incorporated in 1865. Later a third brother joined and the three consolidated their holdings into a new private company, W. R. Grace & Company. The consolidation involved W. R. Grace & Co. of New York, Grace Brothers & Co. of Lima, Peru, Grace & Co. of Valparaiso, Chile, William R. Grace & Co. of London and J. W. Grace & Co. of San Francisco.

One of Grace’s main business was shipping. To get products from Peru to North America and Europe, William Grace founded the shipping division and service began in 1882. The shipping operation grew and Grace Line ships became a regular presence in the shipping lanes of the west coast of South America. They were known as the “Santa” ships and carried both passengers and cargo. The shipping operation, tied with an extensive business presence, including investment and ownership of piers, warehouses and real estate, gave W. R. Grace & Co. a powerful presence in the region.

In the meantime, in 1928, also in Peru, another historic event took place: A tiny single-engined Peruvian Airways Fairchild FC-2 with four passengers and mail took off from a racetrack in Lima and landed in a soccer field in Talara, Peru, 550 miles away. For all intents and purposes, this represented the beginning commercial air transportation along the west cost of South America. Another company, Huff-Daland Dusters, a crop-dusting specialist, had, on the initiative of its local representatives Harold Harris and C. E. Woolman, obtained full Peruvian traffic rights. Harris was also founder of Peruvian Airways.

Because of the power of the W. R. Grace, Juan Trippe encountered a huge obstacle. The company was run by Trippe’s father’s college roommate, W. R. Grace. That was no help, however, as the company saw no reason why Pan American should be allowed to operate in its domain. As Grace was a shipping company, there was also no need for an airline to move mail and passengers faster than its ships did.

To counter the power of Grace, Trippe sought to “exercise a political flanking movement”, according to Davies, by establishing airlines in Peru and Chile.  As Peruvian Airways already existed, he purchased half interest in it on 16 September 1928 and on 28 November acquired the Peruvian air permits held by Huff-Daland Dusters. In Chile, Chilean Airlines was formed on 21 December 1928, but never operated. The formation, a “tactical move” by Trippe, put pressure on Grace.

As a result, a compromise was reached and on 25 January 1929, Pan American-Grace Corporation (Panagra) was formed. Capitalization was $ 1 million (according to Daley; according to Davies, each side contributed $1 million), split 50-50. One month later, Panagra acquired Peruvian Airways. Panagra was incorporated on 21 February 1929 and on 2 March, won the FAM No. 9, Panama to Chile airmail contract, with a provision to cross the Andes to Buenos Aires and Montevideo. On 15 May, Panagra started its own service with a leased S-38 from Pan American. It picked up mail from Miami at Cristóbal (Panama) and carried it to Talara, where a FC-2 took it to Mollendo, Peru. The route was extended to Santiago on 21 July, and on 12 October, a Panagra Ford Tri-Motor made the first commercial flight across the Andes, reaching an altitude of 18,000 feet (5,486 meters) and establishing a mail route between Santiago and Buenos Aires.

The route extended some 4,200 miles and what is often overlooked is that the flying distance it represented was virtually unheard of during that time. In less than a year from its inception, Panagra had linked Panama, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Argentina and Uruguay with the United States. According to Daley, no domestic airline in the US  had even managed to span the country, yet, with this route, and the eventual development of the east coast route, Juan Trippe and his Pan American empire was looking at pushing planes along ten thousand miles of routes.

As Panagra expanded it achieved a number of firsts. For example: In 1933, Panagra was the first to install radio and weather stations in the Andes between Chile and Argentina; in 1946, it was first to use South American flight hostesses; in 1947, it was first to introduce DC-6 service in South America and to provide sleeper service; in 1952, it was first to introduce DC-6Bs and inaugurate tourist-class services in South America; in 1954, it was first to use the latest airborne weather radar in regularly scheduled service; and in 1955, it was first to introduce DC-7B service between the US and Argentina. Panagra was also first to introduce the DC-8 to South America.

Besides its firsts, Panagra was also noted for other achievements in support of other non-aviation events. Just before the bombing of Pearl Harbor, when war with the Axis was imminent, Panagra, with the assistance of the respective South American governments and at the request of the US State Department, first paralleled and then replaced the services of German controlled SEDTA in Ecuador and Lufthansa in Peru and Bolivia. This was designed to remove the Nazi threat in the region. In the humanitarian area, Panagra provided relief after earthquakes in Chile (1939 and 1961) and Peru (1948) and its planes were often sent on mercy missions, carrying, for example, vital life-saving medicine for a dying man, an iron lung to a girl stricken with polio and a shipment of drugs to arrest the spread of an epidemic.

Panagra remained a presence on the west coast of South America through the decade of the 1950s. Its “El Pacifico” tourist service and “El Interamericano” first class service were the staple for travel from the United States to cities such as Guayaquil, Lima, Antofagasta, Santiago and Buenos Aires. When Braniff was awarded authority to operate in competition with Panagra, Panagra extended its operations up to Miami and New York, in a thru-plane interchange service with Pan American and National Airlines. Braniff operated from Dallas and also offered similar service to Miami and New York with an interchange with Eastern Airlines.

By the 1960’s Braniff was in negotiations to acquire the 50% interest of W. R Grace and in December 1965, a deal was made to purchase these shares. On 17 March 1966, the remaining 50% interest was acquired from Pan American. In July 1966, the acquisition was approved by the US Civil Aeronautics Board and by February 1967, Panagra’s operations were fully integrated into Braniff.

Panagra’s operations during its life can be best illustrated with timetables. As Panagra was a major part of Pan American’s operations in South America, some of Pan Am’s timetables are used. A 1939 timetable shows operations with a Pan American S-42 flying from Miami to Panama and then a Panagra DC-2 or DC-3 from Panama south to Buenos Aires.

In the Pan Am 1948 and 1952 timetables, Panagra DC-6’s operated the “El Interamericano” first class service offering sleeper berths and the “Fiesta Lounge”. DC-4’s were also in the 1952 schedule offering “El Especial” tourist service. DC-3s were used in local services in Peru, Chile and Bolivia.

The decade of the 1950s featured extensive operations employing the DC-7B in the all-first class “El Interamericano” service, the DC-6B in the tourist “El Pacifico service and the DC-3 and DC-4 in local services in Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador and Peru. The Interamericano and El Pacifico flights were a thru-plane interchange service originating in New York. National operated the New York/Washington, DC –  Miami sector and Pan American operated Miami-Panama sector. The Panagra flights also received connecting passengers at Panama from Pan Am’s Central American services. A 1959 Pan Am timetable illustrates these services. Braniff also operated west coast routes with its first class “El Dorado” DC-7C services and tourist class “El Conquistador” DC-6 services. Braniff also offered a trans-continental service from Lima to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

PG - Tags frontPG - Tags back

In 1960 came the jets, and Panagra introduced the DC-8 to its New York to Buenos Aires thru-plane service.

Panagra DC-8 at Panama (Allan Van Wickler)

Panagra DC-8 at Panama (Allan Van Wickler).

By 1967, Braniff’s acquisition of Panagra was complete, although Pan American’s timetables continued to show the service up to 1971.


Gustavo Vidal was with Pan American-Grace Airways at it’s inception in 1929 and was the airline’s first Comptroller. Vidal remained with the airline as Comptroller and Vice President until November 1950. At that time, he assembled a photo album highlighting the early years of Panagra, complete with an accompanying typed list of descriptions of each photo.

When Vidal passed away in 1975 many of his files went into storage. The photo album surfaced again for the first time in 2012, and is presented here in its entirety. To view it, click here.  Also included in this link is Vidal’s Panagra-related personal images and mementos, a confidential docket on “Panagra’s Importance to National Defense” and Panagra’s 30th Anniversary Publicity Kit.

For further information and images of the airline, Chip and Jef Reahard have made an outstanding home for Panagra on the internet. Visit PanAmericanGrace.com for the definitive Panagra website.

For additional information about Pan American World Airways:

The Book Pan American World Airways – Aviation history Through the Words of its People contains 71 stories written by the people of Pan Am who played important roles in many of the important events in Pan Am’s history. The book is published by BlueWaterPress.

Preview Pan American World Airways – Aviation History Through the Words of its People

For purchasing information, visit the publisher, BlueWaterPress or Amazon

Also available in a Kindle Edition

For a companion book with a timeline of Pan Am history and images of aircraft, timetables and other memorabilia, see a preview of  Pan American World Airways – Images of a Great Airline

The book is also available directly from the publisher, BlueWaterPress or Amazon.

For further information about the history of Pan American World Airways, visit: Pan Am Historical Foundation

Kindle Edition Now Available!

Now Available in Kindle!



A Kindle Edition of Pan American World Airways – Aviation History Through the Words of its People is now available!

Click here for more information.