New York Air
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|Ceased operations||1 February 1987 (merged with Continental Airlines)|
|Parent company||Texas Air Corporation|
|Headquarters||Queens, New York City, New York|
|Key people||Neal F. Meehan
Michael E. Levine
In 1980, airline industry entrepreneur Frank Lorenzo created a holding company for his Texas International Airlines called Texas Air Corporation. In the autumn of 1980, Texas Air created a new airline called New York Air (NYA), the second of America's post-deregulation airlines after Midway Airlines, which had been founded a year earlier in 1979 (see Airline Deregulation Act of 1978). New York Air was based at New York's LaGuardia Airport, very near the Queens neighborhood where Lorenzo had been raised. New York Air became Lorenzo's challenge to the expensive and near-monopoly Eastern Air Lines Shuttle, and provided cheaper and equally frequent (hourly) flights between New York, Boston and Washington-Reagan National.
Founding New York Air president, Neal F. Meehan, had been a senior manager at both Continental Airlines and at Texas International Airlines (TI). In September, 1980, Meehan quickly assembled a talented team of airline managers, including Margo Bell (Reservations), Ken Carlson (Strategy), Harris Hermann (Legal), Stephen Kolski (Flight Operations), William C. Bottoms (Maintenance), Scott Christian (Economic Planning), Charles Bare (Chief Pilot), and Louise Gilliam and Michelle Collins (Inflight Service). Within 90 days, this core management team had hired, trained, uniformed, and drilled New York Air's flight crew, flight attendants, dispatchers, terminal, ramp and reservations personnel. Office and maintenance facilities in the hangar which had originally housed American Airlines headquarters at LaGuardia in the 1930s were thrown up rapidly, and the carrier obtained FAA certification as an adjunct to TI's certificate. In one notable vignette, New York Air managers interviewed over a thousand candidates for flight attendant, reservations, and airport jobs in one day of group interviews held at New York's famed Town Hall Theater, in November 1980.
The Airline Pilots Association (ALPA) pilots' union fought New York Air vigorously, running picket lines at LaGuardia and Washington National and taking out critical ads in the New York newspapers. Suspected acts of vandalism, interference, and prohibited aircrew operations were also reported by New York Air flight crews and managers. New York Air's representatives to the Airline Scheduling Committees (CAB-authorized committees of airline representatives that allocated takeoff and landing slots at capacity-controlled airports in New York, Washington, and Chicago) were stonewalled for months as they sought to get the necessary 'slots' for New York Air to operate their shuttle services between New York, Washington, and Boston. Eventually, however, the airline succeeded in overcoming all obstacles. New York Air service commenced on 19 December 1980 with shuttle operations between New York LaGuardia, Washington National, and Boston Logan airports.
A moribund U.S. economy and the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO) strike badly hurt New York Air's first 15 months of operation. The strike particularly affected the New York, Boston, and Washington, the airports where NYA operated the majority of their flights. Passenger traffic began to build substantially in 1982 after President Ronald Reagan intervened against PATCO strikers, and the U.S. economy began to recover. A new CEO, Michael E. Levine, was brought aboard in 1982 to restructure the airline. Levine first shrunk NYA, then doubled it in size by 1984 at which time NYA was solidly profitable. Levine left NYA in the spring of 1984.
At their operational peak, New York Air employed over 2,000 people before Texas Air combined NYA and other airlines they owned with Continental Airlines on February 1, 1987. The New York Air image and livery disappeared as NYA was integrated into Continental mainline operations during 1987, consolidating their New York operations to Newark-Liberty and moving their DC-9s and MD-80s to other hubs, including PTI (Piedmont Triad International Airport).
New York Air Connection
By 1986, Beech Model 99 Airliner's, Beech 1900's, and Shorts 330's aircraft were operating upon regional routes feeding New York Air as New York Air Connection. These flights were conducted by the original Colgan Air, prior to their merger with Presidential Airways. The aircraft were completely painted in the New York Air aircraft livery but with the word Connection applied next to the mainline's brand name.
By the end of 1985, the airline flew to thirteen U.S. states with flights to:
- Baltimore (Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport)
- Boston (Logan International Airport)
- Charleston (Charleston International Airport)
- Cleveland (Cleveland Hopkins International Airport)
- Detroit (Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport)
- Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood (Fort Lauderdale – Hollywood International Airport)
- Greenville/Spartanburg (Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport)
- Hartford (Bradley International Airport)
- Islip (Long Island MacArthur Airport)
- Jacksonville (Jacksonville International Airport)
- Knoxville (McGhee Tyson Airport)
- Martha's Vineyard (Martha's Vineyard Airport)
- Nantucket (Nantucket Memorial Airport)
- New Orleans (Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport)
- New York City (JFK Airport)
- New York City (LaGuardia Airport)
- Newark (Newark Liberty International Airport)
- Orlando (Orlando International Airport)
- Raleigh/Durham (Raleigh-Durham International Airport)
- Rochester (Greater Rochester International Airport)
- Savannah (Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport)
- Tampa (Tampa International Airport)
- Washington, D.C. (Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport)
- Washington, D.C. (Washington Dulles International Airport)
- West Palm Beach (Palm Beach International Airport)
- White Plains (Westchester County Airport)
- Worcester (Worcester Regional Airport)
New York Air operated 40 aircraft painted in a red color scheme with a stylized "apple" logo on the aircraft tail, evoking New York's nickname "The Big Apple." The airline operated mostly DC-9 and MD-80 aircraft but it did utilize a small number of Boeing 737-300 aircraft.
New York Air was well known for its onboard bagged snacks, known as "The Flying Nosh."
- Aerosite - New York Air
- "World Airline Directory." Flight International. March 30, 1985.103." Retrieved on June 17, 2009. "Head Office: La Guardia Station, Flushing, New York 11371, USA."
- "World Airline Directory." Flight International. March 29, 1986. 108. "Head Office: Hangar 5, LaGuardia Airport, Flushing, NY 11371, USA."
- Schmitt, Eric (March 12, 1987). "At Continental Airlines, Legacy of Woes". The New York Times. Retrieved March 27, 2010.
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