Air Florida

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Air Florida
IATA ICAO Callsign
Founded September 1971
Commenced operations September 28, 1972
Ceased operations July 3, 1984
Hubs Miami International Airport
Fleet size 33
Parent company Air Florida, Inc.
Headquarters Miami-Dade County, Florida
Key people Eli Timoner (President)
Ed Acker CEO

Air Florida was an American low-cost carrier that operated from 1971 to 1984. In 1975 it was headquartered in the Dadeland Towers in what is now Kendall, Florida in unincorporated Miami-Dade County, Florida.[1][2]


Lockheed L-188 Electra of Air Florida landing at Miami International Airport in 1976

Air Florida was based at Miami International Airport. It was founded in September 1971[3] by a Miami, Florida, native, Eli Timoner, and was organized by company president Ted Griffin, a former marketing director of Eastern Airlines. It started revenue operations on September 28, 1972,[3] using two Boeing 707 jetliners purchased from Pan American World Airways and offering thrice-daily service in Florida from Miami to Orlando to St.Petersburg.[3] The airline later acquired Lockheed L-188 Electra turboprop aircraft. Although the airline began operations as an intrastate air carrier flying wholly within Florida, it subsequently began added domestic and international destinations outside of the state. With this expansion, Air Florida's fleet grew to include Boeing 727, Boeing 737, Douglas DC-9, and McDonnell Douglas DC-10 jetliners.[4]

Ed Acker, formerly CEO of Braniff International Airways, led an acquisition of Air Florida in 1975 and expanded the airline into the interstate market following the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978.[5] In addition to Air Florida having a large presence in the Northeast-to-Florida market during the 1970s and 1980s, the airline also expanded internationally and served various points in the Caribbean and Central America, as well as a number of European destinations including Amsterdam, Brussels, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, London, Madrid, Shannon and Zurich.[6] The European services were primarily flown with McDonnell Douglas DC-10-30 aircraft, although British Island Airways provided connecting passenger service with their British Aircraft Corporation BAC One-Eleven jets for Air Florida on some intra-European route segments with an example being London-Amsterdam .[7] Air Florida was well known for its attractive flight attendants and, on international flights, four-star cuisine. In 1981, shortly before the crash of Air Florida Flight 90, Acker left Air Florida to become the Chairman, CEO and President of Pan American World Airways.

Air Florida tried to buy out Western Airlines during the 1980s, to increase its presence in the West and begin flights to Mexico and western Canada. The negotiations with Western ended up with Air Florida owning 16 percent of the California-based company. Western was later absorbed by Delta Air Lines.

On January 13, 1982, Air Florida Flight 90 crashed into Washington, DC's 14th Street Bridge and fell into the Potomac River shortly after taking off. A total of 70 passengers, 4 crew and 4 motorists on the bridge were killed. The crash of the Boeing 737-200 was due to an anti-icing system being left off, which caused an inaccurately high engine pressure ratio (EPR) indication at an extremely low power setting and the crew's failure to either abort the takeoff or apply maximum engine power. The crash prompted modifications to Air Florida's pilot training regarding anti-ice systems. The FAA also required revised aircraft de-icing procedures at airports.[citation needed]

The crash of Flight 90, coupled with Air Florida's high financial leverage and reliance on foreign currency trading for profits, led the company to declare bankruptcy and cease operations on July 3, 1984, despite an effort by new head Donald Lloyd-Jones (an alumnus of American Airlines) to save the company.[5] When operations ceased, Air Florida had over 18 months of unprocessed credit card ticket purchases and dozens of flight crews idle at home because management had failed to renew leases on all DC-10-30 aircraft. Midway Airlines acquired most of the assets of Air Florida for $53 million while Air Florida was in Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.[8]

Air Florida Commuter[edit]

Air Florida Commuter was not an airline, but a system of affiliated commuter and regional air carriers that fed traffic into Air Florida's hubs. In an arrangement commonly known as code-sharing, each airline painted their aircraft in Air Florida colors and their flights were listed in reservations systems as Air Florida flights. Air Miami became the first affiliate in 1980 and over a dozen other airlines became part of the system, including: Marco Island Airways, Florida Airlines, Key Air, Southern International, Skyway Airlines, North American Airlines, National Commuter Airlines, Gull Air, Pompano, Finair, Slocum, Atlantic Gulf and others. As Air Florida became financially strapped, the commuter system was dismantled in early 1984.[9]


Air Florida sponsored Southampton Football Club, an English Football League side, during the 1983-84 season, in which Southampton were league runners-up. The deal was cancelled after one season due to Air Florida's insolvency.[citation needed]

Mainline fleet[edit]

Boeing 737-200

At the time they ceased operations the airline operated the following aircraft:[10]

Aircraft Total
Boeing 737-100 6
Boeing 737-200 38
Douglas DC-8-60 1
Douglas DC-9-10 8
McDonnell Douglas DC-10-30 5
Total 58

The airline also operated the following aircraft in the mainline fleet, but retired them before their demise:[4]

Air Florida Commuter fleet[edit]

The commuter and regional affiliates of Air Florida operated the following aircraft:[4]


City Feb. 1979[11] Dec. 1981[12] Sep. 1982[13] Jan. 1984[14]
Amsterdam X X
Belize City X X X
Bermuda X
Boston X X X
Brussels X X
Burlington X X
Chicago O'Hare X X
Cincinnati X
Cleveland X
Columbus X
Daytona Beach X
Detroit X
Fort Lauderdale X X X X
Fort Myers X X
Freeport X X X
Gainesville X X X
George Town X X
Grand Turk X X
Guatemala City X X
Hyannis X
Indianapolis X
Jacksonville X X X X
Key West X X X
Kingston X X X
London Gatwick X X X
Marathon X
Marco Island X
Marsh Harbour X X X X
Miami X X X X
Montego Bay X X X
Nantucket X
Newark X
New Orleans X
New York JFK X
New York LaGuardia X X X
North Eleuthera X X X X
Ocala X X X
Orlando X X X X
Oslo X
Panama City, FL X
Pensacola X X X X
Philadelphia X X
Port-au-Prince X X X
Puerto Plata X X X
Rock Sound X X X X
Saint Croix X X
Saint Thomas X
San Jose (C.R.) X X X
San Pedro Sula X X X
San Salvador X X X
Santo Domingo X X
Sarasota X X
Shannon X X
Stockholm X
Stuart X
Tallahassee X X X
Tampa X X X X
Tegucigalpa X X X
Toledo X X
Treasure Cay X X X X
Washington National X X X X
West Palm Beach X X X X
White Plains X X X

Air Florida also served Chicago (Midway Airport), Illinois; Dallas/Ft. Worth (DFW Airport), Texas; Düsseldorf, Germany; Frankfurt, Germany; Houston (Hobby Airport), Texas; Madrid, Spain; Providence, Rhode Island; and Zurich, Switzerland at various times during its existence.[15]

Accidents and incidents[edit]

  • On August 10, 1980, Air Florida Flight 4, with 35 people on board, operated by a Boeing 737 from Miami International Airport to Key West International Airport, was taken over by a hijacker, who demanded to be flown to Cuba. He later surrendered in Havana.[16]
  • Three days later, on August 13, 1980, Air Florida Flight 707, another 737, flying the opposite direction of Flight 4, with 74 people on board, was hijacked by seven people. They demanded to be taken to Cuba, but later surrendered.[17]
  • On January 13, 1982, Air Florida Flight 90 crashed on takeoff from Washington National Airport due to atmospheric icing and pilot error, killing 74 of the 79 people on board, injuring four of the five survivors, and killing and injuring four people on the 14th Street Bridge, which the plane plowed into.
  • On February 2, 1982, Air Florida Flight 710, a Boeing 737-200 with 77 people on board from Miami International to Key West International was hijacked. The hijacker wanted to be taken to Cuba, but he later surrendered.[18]
  • On July 7, 1983, Air Florida Flight 8 with 47 people on board was flying from Fort Lauderdale International Airport to Tampa International Airport. One of the passengers handed a note to one of the flight attendants, saying that he had a bomb, and telling them to fly the plane to Havana, Cuba. He revealed a small athletic bag, which he opened, and inside was an apparent explosive device. The airplane was diverted to Havana-José Martí International Airport, and the hijacker was taken into custody by Cuban authorities.[19]


  1. ^ World Airline Directory. Flight International. March 20, 1975. "466.
  2. ^ "Kendall CDP, Florida." U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved on June 17, 2009.
  3. ^ a b c AIR FLEETS INTERNATIONAL: United States (1980) June 30, 2015, 14:12
  4. ^ a b c, all Air Florida aircraft photos
  5. ^ a b Petzinger, Thomas (1996). Hard Landing: The Epic Contest For Power and Profits That Plunged the Airlines into Chaos. Random House. ISBN 978-0-307-77449-1. 
  6. ^; Air Florida route maps
  7. ^, Air Florida system timetables
  8. ^ AP (1985-08-15). "Midway Jets Sale". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-10-24. 
  9. ^ Air Florida Commuter. (2010-12-07). Retrieved on 2013-08-16.
  10. ^ "Air Florida Fleet Details and History". Retrieved 2017-01-23. 
  11. ^ QH020179intro. (1979-02-01). Retrieved on 2013-08-16.
  12. ^ QH120181intro. (1981-12-01). Retrieved on 2013-08-16.
  13. ^ QH090882intro. (1982-09-08). Retrieved on 2013-08-16.
  14. ^ QH011584intro. (1984-01-15). Retrieved on 2013-08-16.
  15. ^, Air Florida route maps
  16. ^ Ranter, Harro. "ASN Aircraft accident Boeing 737 registration unknown Havana". Retrieved 21 January 2017. 
  17. ^ Ranter, Harro. "ASN Aircraft accident Boeing 737 registration unknown Havana". Retrieved 21 January 2017. 
  18. ^ Ranter, Harro. "ASN Aircraft accident Boeing 737-200 registration unknown Havana". Retrieved 21 January 2017. 
  19. ^ Ranter, Harro. "ASN Aircraft accident Boeing 737 registration unknown Havana-José Martí International Airport (HAV)". Retrieved 21 January 2017. 

External links[edit]