Rich International Airways
|Operating bases||Miami International Airport|
|Headquarters||Miami, Florida, United States|
|Key people||George E. Batchelor|
Rich International Airways ((IATA: RIA, ICAO: JN, Call sign: RICHAIR)) was a United States charter and cargo airline with its headquarters in Miami, Florida. The airline ceased operations in 1996, following bankruptcy.
Rich International Airways was founded as a cargo airline in 1969, flying Curtiss C-46 Commando and Beechcraft Model 18 aircraft to the Caribbean. Capacity was steadily increased with the addition of Douglas DC-6 and Douglas DC-8-60 freighters.
In 1982, the carrier was granted permission to fly passenger charters, and began operations to Europe and Hawaii. However, losses from the expansion forced the company to seek Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 1983. This was followed by scrutiny from the Federal Aviation Administration, which revoked the airline’s operating license in the spring of 1984 due to maintenance irregularities.
Following the grounding, Miami-based multibillionaire George E. Batchelor invested in the company, and by 1991, Rich had successfully exited bankruptcy protection. This period of prosperity was accompanied by more expansion, including the introduction of the wide-body Lockheed L-1011 TriStar for flights to Europe.
In the wake of the crash of ValuJet Flight 592 in the Everglades, much media attention was given to the FAA’s poor oversight of the ValuJet’s rapid, unsustainable growth and multiple safety violations. The FAA grounded Rich for alleged maintenance irregularities. Operations ceased on September 1, 1996, and though attempts were made to restart flights, the airline was liquidated in July 1997.
The following year, the FAA released findings stating that the grounding of Rich may have been an overreaction, and that minor maintenance issues may have been blown out of proportion in the public hysteria following the ValuJet crash.
- 15 - Lockheed L-1011-1 Tristar
- 1 - Lockheed L-1011-500 Tristar
- 2 - Douglas DC-8-55F
- 3 - Douglas DC-8-62F
- 1 - Douglas DC-8-63F
- 1 - Boeing 727-077
- Curtis C-46 Commando (number unknown)
- Beech 18 "Twin Beech" (number unknown)
- Hengi, B.I. (2000). Vergangen, Vergessen, Vorbei [Airlines Remembered: Over 200 Airlines of the Past, Described and Illustrated in Colour]. Neil Lewis, translator. Leicester, England: Midland Publishing. ISBN 978-1-85780-091-3.
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