Bonanza Air Lines

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Bonanza Air Lines
Commenced operations 1945
Ceased operations 1968
Fleet size See Fleet below
Headquarters Las Vegas, Nevada (1945-1966) Phoenix, Arizona (1966-1968) United States

Bonanza Air Lines was an airline (known at the time as a "local service" air carrier) with routes in the western United States (and eventually Mexico) from 1945 until it merged in 1968.[1] Its headquarters was in Las Vegas, Nevada until moved to Phoenix, Arizona in 1966.[2][3]

The airline began scheduled flights in 1945 with a single-engine Cessna,[4] between Nevada cities Las Vegas, Reno, Tonopah and Hawthorne. During the 1950s and early 1960s the airline expanded into Arizona, Southern California and Utah, including Phoenix, Los Angeles and Salt Lake City. (Until 1978 Bonanza had the only scheduled direct flights between Las Vegas and Reno.) It became an international airline soon before it merged with Pacific Air Lines and West Coast Airlines to form Air West with flights to Mexico: DC-9s Phoenix to Tucson to La Paz to Mazatlán to Puerto Vallarta.


A Bonanza Airlines Douglas DC-3, Orange County Airport, circa 1958

The company started in 1945, based in Las Vegas and then known as Bonanza Air Services in Las Vegas. The company was part of a Civil Aeronautics Authority effort to develop "local service airlines." Interstate flights started in December 1949 and Bonanza didn't appear in the Official Airline Guide until then.

In October 1951 its DC-3s landed at eight airports from Reno to Phoenix; in July 1952 it added seven airports west from Phoenix to Los Angeles. In 1968 it began flights to Mexico from Tucson, and that May it scheduled flights to 22 airports.

In 1959 Bonanza had introduced Fairchild F-27 turboprops (nicknamed Silver Dart) and unsuccessfully applied for routes to Texas.[5] The last scheduled DC-3 flight was in late 1960, so Bonanza was the first all-turbine scheduled airline in the U.S. Bonanza flew the F-27 to Grand Canyon National Park Airport in northern Arizona with flights to Las Vegas, Phoenix and Tucson. The F-27 was also used to other cities in Arizona, Nevada, Utah and southern California.

Bonanza ordered three British Aircraft Corporation BAC One-Eleven twin jets in October 1962; however, this request was denied by the Civil Aeronautics Board, although U.S. authorities allowed American Airlines, Braniff International Airways, Aloha Airlines and Mohawk Airlines to purchase new BAC One-Eleven jets.[6][7] An order was placed for the U.S. manufactured twin jet equivalent, the Douglas DC-9 series 10. Deliveries of the DC-9 began in late 1965 and flights commenced on March 1, 1966. The DC-9s, dubbed Funjets,[8] flew the following routes within the first year: Las Vegas—Reno, Las Vegas—Los Angeles, Reno—Los Angeles, Salt Lake City—Phoenix, and Reno—Las Vegas—Phoenix.[9] The headquarters were moved to Phoenix during 1966.[10][11]

The April 28, 1968 timetable shows DC-9s on:

  • Las Vegas - Los Angeles
  • Las Vegas - Phoenix
  • Las Vegas - Orange County (now known as John Wayne Airport)
  • Las Vegas - Reno
  • Las Vegas - Tucson
  • Los Angeles - Las Vegas - Reno
  • Los Angeles - Tucson - Phoenix
  • Los Angeles - San Diego - Tucson
  • Phoenix - Las Vegas - Reno
  • Phoenix - Orange County Airport (now known as John Wayne Airport)
  • Phoenix - Tucson - La Paz - Mazatlan - Puerto Vallarta
  • Salt Lake City - Phoenix - Tucson
  • Reno - Las Vegas - Phoenix - Tucson

With Civil Aeronautics Board approval on April 17, 1968[12] Bonanza Air Lines merged with Pacific Air Lines and West Coast Airlines to form Air West on July 1. Air West, renamed Hughes Airwest in 1970, would be acquired by Republic Airlines (the result of the 1979 merger of North Central Airlines and Southern Airways) in 1980, with Republic being acquired by Northwest Airlines in 1986. Northwest in turn merged with Delta Air Lines in 2008. Bonanza's DC-9-10s and F-27As joined the Air West fleet.

A Douglas DC-9-31 (construction number 47246/ship number 292/registration N9333) was ordered by Bonanza but was delivered to Air West after the merger. It flew with Hughes Airwest, Republic and Northwest Airlines before being phased out circa 2009.[13]


Incidents and accidents[edit]

The airline's only fatal incident was on November 15, 1964 when Bonanza Air Lines Flight 114, flying from Phoenix, Arizona to Las Vegas, Nevada, crashed into a mountain south of Las Vegas during poor weather. There were no survivors among the 26 passengers and three crew on the F-27.

External links[edit]


  1. ^ " - Bonanza Airlines April 1968 timetable image". Retrieved 2013-07-01. 
  2. ^ "World Airline Directory." Flight International. April 13, 1967. 561.
  3. ^ Lehman, William. "Part VII - America West." US Airways. Retrieved on February 18, 2010.
  4. ^ "Northwest Airlines - About Northwest - NWA Up Close". Retrieved 2013-07-01. 
  5. ^ " - Bonanza Airlines January 1959 timetable image". Retrieved 2013-07-01. 
  6. ^ Airlift April 1963: Mohawk "does not need CAB approval because it will handle its own financing without a guaranteed loan."
  7. ^ "1963 | 1256 | Flight Archive". Retrieved 2013-07-01. 
  8. ^ " - Bonanza Airlines March 1967 timetable image". Retrieved 2013-07-01. 
  9. ^ Official Airline Guides (1968). Official Airline Guide, North American Timetable Edition. Robert Parrish. 
  10. ^ "Bonanza Airlines". 2007-01-15. Retrieved 2008-05-13. 
  11. ^ "Birth of Bonanza Airlines". Retrieved 2008-05-13. 
  12. ^ "Bonanza Air Lines' history". Retrieved 2013-07-01. 
  13. ^ "photo of DC-9-31 N9333". 2009-05-02. Retrieved 2013-07-01.