Northeast Airlines

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Northeast Airlines
IATA ICAO Callsign
Founded20 July 1931 (as Boston-Maine Airways)
Commenced operations19 November 1940 (as Northeast Airlines)
Ceased operations1 August 1972 (merged with Delta Air Lines)
DestinationsSee Destinations
HeadquartersBoston, Massachusetts, U.S

Northeast Airlines was a major U.S. air carrier based in Boston, Massachusetts that chiefly operated in the northeastern United States, as well as to Canada, Florida, the Bahamas, Los Angeles and other destinations. The airline was acquired by and merged into Delta Air Lines in August 1972.[1]


A Northeast DC-6B at Boston in 1966.

The airline began as Boston-Maine Airways, founded as a Pan Am contract carrier on July 20, 1931, by the Boston and Maine Railroad and Maine Central Railroad, flying from Boston to Bangor via Portland. It flew only sporadically until August 11, 1933, when National Airways began to operate its flights under contract. National also operated Central Vermont Airways, a subsidiary of the Central Vermont Railway, and the two carriers together offered a network across New England to New Hampshire, Vermont, and Montreal.[1] Amelia Earhart and Eugene Vidal were among the co-founders of National, and Earhart was a prominent salesperson for the airline in its early years.[2] National initially operated Stinson Airliners, and switched to a fleet of 10-passenger Lockheed Electras in November 1936.[2]

The name Northeast Airlines was adopted on November 19, 1940.[citation needed] During World War II Northeast pioneered regular transatlantic service for the military under contract from the U.S. Army Air Forces.[1] After the war, Northeast began hourly air shuttle service between Boston and New York using DC-4 aircraft.[2] Northeast also applied for authorization to operate passenger service across the Atlantic but were stymied by the Civil Aeronautics Board, which awarded the routes to Pan American World Airways and TWA.[citation needed]

In 1956, Northeast began service to Washington National Airport, and received a temporary certificate to serve Florida, for which the airline purchased a new fleet of DC-6 aircraft. In 1959, Northeast became one of the earliest jet operators in the US by offering Boeing 707 service between New York and Miami.[1]

A Northeast CV-880 at New York JFK in 1961.

Northeast ordered ten turboprop Vickers Viscounts in the late 1950s and used them until financial problems in the early 1960s forced the company to return them to the manufacturer. Northeast leased a single Boeing 707 from TWA for 1959-60 winter flights to Florida. In 1960 Northeast leased six Convair 880s and flew them to Florida for several years.[citation needed]

A Northeast 727-200 in the "Yellowbird" livery at New York JFK in 1970.

Howard Hughes acquired control of the airline in 1962. However, the airline's temporary Miami route authority was terminated by a CAB decision that year, and Hughes decided to exit from the company, selling control to a trustee in 1964.[1] Northeast launched an aggressive campaign against the CAB's decision, and obtained a permanent Florida certificate in 1965.[2] In 1965 the airline was bought by Storer Broadcasting, who tried to rejuvenate Northeast in 1966 with a new marketing campaign and new aircraft.[1] Northeast ordered a fleet of Boeing 727-100s for their Florida routes, and McDonnell Douglas DC-9-30 twinjets and Fairchild FH-227 turboprops for shorter routes. These "Yellowbirds" had a new two-tone yellow and white livery. In 1966 Northeast was the launch customer for the Boeing 727-200, which they began flying in December 1967.[1] Except for Florida their network was all north and east of Washington National Airport (DCA) until 1969 when they added three 727 nonstops between Miami (MIA) and Los Angeles (LAX), with Fort Lauderdale (FLL) getting a short-lived LAX nonstop soon after (fuel stops were sometimes required on these transcontinental nonstop flights operated with the 727).[citation needed] Northeast obtained rights to operate between Miami and Montreal in 1967, followed by rights to serve the Bahamas in 1968, and rights to serve Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago, and Bermuda in 1969, along with a new Miami-Los Angeles route authority.[2]

In 1969, following a long period of financial difficulties, Northeast announced its intention to merge with Northwest Airlines. Although the merger was approved by both the CAB and President Richard Nixon in 1970, it was conditional upon relinquishing the Miami-Los Angeles route. Northwest terminated the merger negotiations in March 1971, and Northeast announced a new merger plan with Delta Air Lines the following month. The Delta merger was approved in May 1972, with the same condition that Delta could not operate the Miami-Los Angeles route.[2] The merger was completed in August 1972.[1]

Northeast's contribution to Delta included access to the Boston market, which Delta did not serve under the then-regulated airline industry. Delta added the Boeing 727-100 and 727-200 to their fleet, which were types they did not operate prior to acquiring Northeast. Delta used these tri-jet airliners as the workhorses of their fleet during the 1970s and 1980s and at one point was the world's largest operator of the Boeing 727-200.[3]

The airline's IATA code was NE.

Destinations served[edit]

Northeast Airlines served the following destinations:[4]



An asterisk (*) denotes this airport is no longer served by scheduled air service.


Prop Aircraft

Turboprop Aircraft

Jet Aircraft

Accidents and incidents[edit]

A series of crashes damaged the airline's image:


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h "Northeast Airlines". Retrieved 2018-01-08.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g A Pictorial History of Northeast Airlines, 1933-1972 (PDF). Boston: Northeast Airlines. 1972.
  3. ^, Delta Museum, Delta's 85 Years of Service, Aircraft By Type
  4. ^ "Northeast Airlines June 1, 1969 System Timetable". Retrieved 6 September 2013.
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  10. ^ "Accident description". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 2 October 2009.
  11. ^ "Accident description". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 2 Octotember 2009. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  12. ^