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|Operating bases||Killeen Municipal Airport|
|Hubs||Love Field, Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport|
|Alliance||Delta Air Lines TranStar Airlines|
|Fleet size||See Fleet below|
|Destinations||See Destinations below|
|Headquarters||Killeen, Texas, United States|
Rio Airways was a regional passenger airline headquartered in Killeen, Texas, United States, which was operational from 1967 to 1987. Rio Airways operated briefly in a code-share arrangement with Delta Air Lines whereby Rio flights were booked and sold under the "Delta Connection" brand name. Prior to the Delta Connection, Rio Airways (Code "XO") operated independently but shared terminal gates at the DFW airport first with Texas International Airlines (1974), then with Braniff (1975-1978). Prior to operations at DFW it operated at Dallas Love Field, having its roots in two smaller commuter air carriers, Dal Airways and Hood Airways.
In 1972, Rio pilots initiated collective bargaining efforts with proposed representation by the Teamsters, but vigorous opposition by Rio management and strong appeals by popular pilot Mike Mills, swayed the pilots to reject the union. Two years later, the Rio pilot group having grown dissatisfied with Rio management's failure to carry through with promises made to discourage the former unionization efforts, solicited the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to conduct another union vote. This time the initial solicitation was actually initiated by Mike Mills who personally handed out the solicitation cards to be signed by pilots, and the pilots unanimously voted ALPA subsidiary "UPA" as their collective bargaining agent.
After a year of failed negotiations the NLRB mediator declared a thirty-day "cooling-off" period and then made his recommendation known to the pilot group that "only a strike will likely force the company to abandon coercive and probably unsafe practices against the pilots." The pilots had an almost 100% walk-out beginning August 1976, with the exception of management pilot Herb Cunningham, and line pilots Mike Mills, Calvin Humphrey, Will Kilgore, and Hugh Longmoor remaining with the company. The company hired replacement pilots from across the country, many of whom arrived to discover the airline under a labor dispute.
The strike continued for two years, with no UPA pilot returning to the company, until August 1978, when pilots Calvin Humphrey and Mike Mills organized a "sweetheart" union which de-certified UPA and established the "Rio Pilots Association". Rio acquired competitor Davis Airlines of College Station, Texas in 1979 and began service to that city.
Rio operated various aircraft types through its history and initially flew single piston engine Piper Cherokee Six and twin piston engine Beech 18 aircraft. Turboprop aircraft were then operated, including the Beechcraft 99 until 1977 followed by de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otters, Fairchild Swearingen Metroliners (Metro II models), de Havilland Canada DHC-7 Dash 7s and Beechcraft 1900Cs.
Destinations in 1983
According to the January 1, 1983 Rio Airways route map, the airline was serving the following destinations:
- Bryan/College Station, Texas (CLL)
- Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas - Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) - Hub
- Greenville, Mississippi (GLH)
- Hot Springs, Arkansas (HOT)
- Houston, Texas - Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH)
- Jackson, Tennessee (MKL)
- Jonesboro, Arkansas (JBR)
- Killeen, Texas (ILE)
- Little Rock, Arkansas (LIT)
- Memphis, Tennessee (MEM) - Focus city
- San Angelo, Texas (SJT)
- Temple, Texas (TPL)
- Texarkana, Arkansas (TXK)
- Waco, Texas (CNW)
- Wichita Falls, Texas (SPS)
Ted C Connell Chairman Of Board; Mark S Connell Vice Chairman of Board; Pete Howe, exec. vice-president
For a brief period of time, Rio Airways provided code-share commuter passenger feed services for TranStar Airlines, the successor to Muse Air after this new start up jet airline was acquired by Southwest Airlines and renamed TranStar. Only in print media were Rio's aircraft ever illustrated in TranStar SkyLink brandings. According to the Victoria Advocate newspaper, plans were for TranStar Skylink to feature the aircraft livery of TranStar and operate smaller Fokker F27 turboprop aircraft in order to replace the McDonnell Douglas DC-9-50 jetliners then being flown by TranStar on the Houston Hobby - Brownsville, TX route as well as being operated on other intrastate feeder routes in Texas.
Among the routes flown as the TranStar Skylink feeder brand were:
- Killeen, TX - Austin, TX
- Victoria, TX - Houston Hobby Airport, TX
Rio operated the following turboprop aircraft types during its existence:
- Beechcraft 99 (A models)
- Beechcraft 1900C
- de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter
- de Havilland Canada DHC-7 Dash 7
- Fairchild Swearingen Metroliner (Metro II models)
- Airlines of Texas
- Conquest Airlines
- Emerald Air (USA)
- Metro Airlines
- Lone Star Airlines
- Aspen Mountain Air
- "World Airline Directory". Flight International. 1985. p. 112. Retrieved July 23, 2009.
- "The World's Airlines, Past, Present & Future - Inactive Airlines". AirlineHistory.net. Retrieved June 8, 2015.
- Ridder-Flynn, Laura (May 11, 2000). "City looks at illegal gun buying in Laredo". Laredo Morning Times. Retrieved June 8, 2015.
- Staff writer(s); no by-line. (February 16, 1983). "Texas Airliner Hijacked And Forced to Mexico". The New York Times. Retrieved June 7, 2015.
- http://Jan. 1, 1983 Rio Airways route map
- (1986) "Transtar Rio link up smaller cities" Houston Chronicle[dead link]