Trans World Airlines
Final TWA logo (1996-2001)
|Founded||1930 (as Transcontinental & Western Air)|
|Ceased operations||December 1, 2001 (acquired by American Airlines)|
|Secondary hubs||Pittsburgh International Airport|
|Parent company||Trans World Corporation (1961–1992), AMR Corporation (2001)|
Trans World Airlines (TWA) was a major American airline that existed from 1930 until 2001. It was formed as Transcontinental & Western Air to operate a route from New York City to Los Angeles via St. Louis, Kansas City, and other stops, with Ford Trimotors. With American, United, and Eastern, it was one of the "Big Four" domestic airlines in the United States formed by the Spoils Conference of 1930.
Howard Hughes acquired control of TWA in 1939, and after World War II led the expansion of the airline to serve Europe, the Middle East, and Asia, making TWA a second unofficial flag carrier of the United States after Pan Am. Hughes gave up control in the 1960s, and the new management of TWA acquired Hilton International and Century 21 in an attempt to diversify the company's business.
As the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978 led to a wave of airline failures, start-ups, and takeovers in the United States, TWA was spun off from its holding company in 1984. Carl Icahn acquired control of TWA and took the company private in a leveraged buyout in 1988. TWA became saddled with debt, sold its London routes, underwent Chapter 11 restructuring in 1992 and 1995, and was further stressed by the explosion of TWA Flight 800 in 1996.
In 2001, TWA filed for a third and final bankruptcy and was acquired by American Airlines. American laid off many former TWA employees in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks and closed its St. Louis hub in 2003.
TWA was headquartered at one time in Kansas City, Missouri, and planned to make Kansas City International Airport its main domestic and international hub, but abandoned this plan in the 1970s. The airline later developed its largest hub at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport. Its main transatlantic hub was the TWA Flight Center at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City, an architectural icon designed by Eero Saarinen, and completed in 1962.
- 1 History
- 1.1 1930s
- 1.2 1940s
- 1.3 1950s: Trans World Airlines
- 1.4 1960s
- 1.5 1970s
- 1.6 1980s
- 1.7 1990s
- 1.8 2000s
- 2 Ongoing heritage
- 3 Destinations
- 4 Accidents and incidents
- 5 Fleet
- 6 Crew bases
- 7 Ambassadors Club
- 8 See also
- 9 References
- 10 External links
TWA's corporate history dates from the July 16, 1930, and the forced merger of Transcontinental Air Transport (TAT), Western Air Express (WAE), Maddux Air Lines, Standard, and Pittsburgh Aviation Industries Corporation (PAIC) to form Transcontinental & Western Air (T&WA) on 1 Oct. 1930. The companies merged at the urging of Postmaster General Walter Folger Brown, who was looking for bigger airlines to give airmail contracts to.
The airline brought high-profile aviation pioneers who would give the airline the panache of being called "The Airman's Airline". TAT had the marquee expertise of Charles Lindbergh and was already offering a 48-hour combination of plane and train trip across the United States. WAE had the expertise of Jack Frye. TWA became known as "The Lindbergh Line", with the "Shortest Route Coast to Coast".:6-7,10,14,20
On October 25, 1930, the airline offered one of the first all-plane scheduled service from coast to coast. The route took 36 hours, which included an overnight stay in Kansas City. In summer 1931, TWA moved its headquarters from New York to Kansas City, Missouri.:14-16
DC-1, DC-2 and DC-3
On 31 March 1931, the airline suffered after the 1931 Transcontinental & Western Air Fokker F-10 crash near Matfield Green, Kansas. The crash killed all eight on board, including University of Notre Dame football coach Knute Rockne. The cause of the crash was linked to the wooden wings, one of which severed in flight. As a consequence, all of the airline's Fokker F.10s were grounded, and later destroyed. TWA needed a replacement aircraft, but Boeing's first 60 247s were promised to United Airlines. TWA was forced to sponsor the development of a new airplane design. Specifications included the ability to fly the high altitude route between Winslow, Arizona and Albuquerque, New Mexico with one engine inoperative. Other specifications included the capacity to carry 12 passengers, and an 1080 mile range.:34-36:22-23
On September 20, 1932, the development contract was signed with Douglas Aircraft Company and the DC-1 was delivered to TWA in December 1933, the sole example of its type. This was followed by the delivery of 32 Douglas DC-2s that started operations in May 1934 on its Columbus-Pittsburgh-Newark route. Most were phased out by 1937 as the DC-3 started service, but several DC-2s would be operational through the early years of World War II.:38-42
Throughout 1934, Tommy Tomlinson set load and distance records with the DC-1. TWA used their Northrop Gamma as an "experimental Overweather Laboratory", in a desire to fly at altitudes above the weather.:45-46
On 18 February 1934, Frye (pilot) and Eastern Air Lines Eddie Rickenbacker (co-pilot), flew a DC-1 from Glendale, California, to Newark, New Jersey, setting a transcontinental record of 13 hours and 4 minutes.On 17 April Frye was elected president.:43
Airmail and Hughes
In 1934, following charges of favoritism in the contracts, the Air Mail scandal erupted, leading to the Air Mail Act of 1934, which dissolved the forced Transcontinental/Western merger and ordered the United States Army Air Service to deliver the mail. However, Transcontinental opted to retain the T&WA name. With the company facing financial hardship, Lehman Brothers and John D. Hertz took over ownership of the company. The Army fliers had a series of crashes, and it was decided to privatize the delivery with the provision that no former companies could bid on the contracts. T&WA added the suffix "Inc." to its name, thus qualifying it as a different company. It was awarded 60% of its old contracts back in May 1934, and won back the rest within a few years.
On 29 January 1937, TWA contracted with Boeing for five Boeing 307 Stratoliners, which included a pressurized cabin. However, the TWA board refused to authorize the expenditure. Frye then approached another flying enthusiast, Howard Hughes, to buy stock in 1937. Hughes Tool Company purchased 99,293 shares at $8.25 a share, giving Hughes control, and Noah Dietrich was also placed on the board. Later, Hughes bought another $1,500,000 worth of stock. Paul E. Richter became executive vice president in 1938. A new order for five Stratoliners was placed on 23 Sept. 1939, the first Stratoliner was delivered on 6 May 1940, and TWA initiated coast-to-coast flights on 8 July 1940. The planes could carry 16 night passengers in berths, or 33 day passengers. The cabin was pressurized at 12,000 feet, enabling it to fly at an altitude of 20,000 feet, above much of the weather.:33,51,54-55:24
World War II
TWA contracted its five Stratoliners to the Army Air Force's Air Transport Command after Pearl Harbor. Designated as C-75s, they flew 3000 transatlantic flights to Africa and Europe. TWA also contracted to fly its C-54s and Lockheed C-69 Constellations. Hughes and TWA had developed the Constellation in secret with Lockheed, and Hughes purchased 40 for TWA's use in 1939, through his Hughes Tool Company. On 17 April 17 1944, Hughes and Frye flew the TWA Constellation from Burbank, California, to Washington, D.C., in 6 hours 58 minutes. By war's end, 20 Constellations had been built.:59,62-63,67-69:24
Post-war: The Trans World Airline
TWA had 10 Constellations by the end of 1945, and acquired international routes. TWA inaugurated its New York to Paris route on 5 Feb. 1946, with the Star of Paris. The Italy route was initiated on 2 April, and then extended to Cairo. Hughes flew the Star of California from Los Angeles to New York on 15 Feb. 1946 in 8 hours and 38 minutes. Hollywood passengers included Cary Grant, Myrna Loy, William Powell, Frank Morgan, Walter Pidgeon, Tyrone Power, Edward G. Robinson. Hence TWA's reputation as the "airline of the stars".:103-104:58
On 21 Oct. 1946, TWA pilots went on strike. The strike finally ended when TWA and the pilots union agreed to binding arbitration on 15 Nov. 1946. Additionally, TWA lost $14,5 million in 1946, owed $4.34 million in short-term debt and $38.9 million in long-term debt. Yet, Hughes opposed Frye's financing proposals.:119-121:30-32
Falling out between Hughes and Frye
Frye and Hughes had a falling out in 1947. Hughes' financial advisor Noah Dietrich wrote that "Frye's inept handling of costs, his inefficient operations, his extravagance with new purchases of equipment-all these factors combined to nosedive the TWA stock from 71 at the war's end to 9 in 1947." The airline was losing $20,000,000 a year, was in danger of not being able to acquire fuel for its planes due to being deeply indebted to oil companies, and the pilot's union went on strike. Hughes provided $10,000,000 worth of financing, which was later converted to 1,039,000 shares, Frye was removed, and Hughes added 11 members to the board, giving him control. Thus ended the era of "The Airline Run by Flyers".
|Revenue passenger traffic, in millions of passenger-miles (scheduled flights only, domestic plus international)|
LaMotte Cohu took over as president, and TWA ordered 12 Lockheed L-749 Constellations on 18 Oct. 1947. Cohu was replaced by Ralph Damon in 1948. As president of American Airlines (AAL), Damon was a proponent of AAL being in the transatlantic market. Damon approved the mergers of AAL and American Export in 1945 to form American Overseas Airlines (AOA). When C.R. Smith sold AOA to Pan American, Damon became disillusioned with AAL. As a consequence, Hughes was able to hire Damon to run TWA. Damon described air transportation as "a race between technology and bankruptcy." Over the next 7 years, Damon introduced practices within the industry which became standard, such as multi-class service with first class and economy class. Damon also brought financial stability by eliminating the company deficit, which was reflected in the stock price rising into the 60s. Carter L. Burgess then took over in 1957, but lasted less than a year, unable to work with Hughes' meddling.:248-252:137-138, 151-152:36
On 31 May 1949, TWA ordered 20 Lockheed 749As. They were operated by TWA for the next 17 years.:170
1950s: Trans World Airlines
On 22 Feb. 1950, TWA signed a contract with the Glenn L. Martin Company for 12 Martin 2-0-2s and 30 Martin 4-0-4s. The first plane was delivered on 14 July 1950. TWA's Martin fleet was eventually increased to 53 planes, and they remained operational until 1961. On 17 May 1950, the airline officially changed its name to Trans World Airlines. On 5 Dec. 1950, TWA ordered 10 Lockheed L-1049 Super Constellations, which were delivered in 1952. On 19 Oct. 1953, TWA offered nonstop transcontinental service.:159,163,181-182
TWA's flight operations were based at Kansas City Municipal Airport, while their overhaul base was located at Fairfax Airport. When the Great Flood of 1951 destroyed the facility, the city of Kansas City helped TWA build a new facility on 5000 acres, 18 miles (29 km) north of downtown at what became Kansas City International Airport.:185-188:32-34,50
On 10 July 1953, TWA ordered 20 Lockheed 1049Es, which was later changed to be 1049Gs. They were put in service on 1 April 1955. On 25 Sept., TWA introduced multiple class service, first and economy. On 30 Oct. they inaugurated their Los Angeles to London route, via New York.:193,197-198
On 23 Dec. 1954, the Hughes Tool Co. ordered 25 Lockheed L-1449 turboprops. On 29 March 1955, this order was changed to piston powered L-1649As. Hughes transferred the planes to TWA in 1956, after receiving Civil Aeronautics Board approval. The first L-1649A was delivered on 4 May 1957. Fully reclining seats were later added to the plane.:208-211,213,222-223
In Feb. 1956, Hughes Tool Co. placed an order with Pratt & Whitney for 300 jet engines, JT-3s and JT-4s. On 2 March 1956, Hughes Tool Co. placed an order for 8 domestic Boeing 707s, later increased to 15 planes on 10 Jan. 1957, and an order for 18 international 707s on 19 March 1956, bringing the total order with Boeing to 33 jet planes. Then on 7 June 1956, Hughes placed an order for 30 Convair Skylarks. TWA suffered from its late entry to the jet age, and Hughes' 1956 order cost $497 million. The transaction ultimately resulted in Hughes losing control of the airline.:14-16,289,299-300:305,308-309,317:39
In 1958, TWA became the first major airline to hire an African American flight attendant, hiring Margaret Grant after another African American woman, Dorothy Franklin of Astoria, Queens, New York, filed a lawsuit alleging "that she had been discriminated against 'because of poor complexion ... unattractive teeth' and legs that were 'not shapely.'" New York governor W. Averell Harriman praised her hiring, saying the action "would raise American prestige abroad."
Charles C. Tillinghast Jr.
In 1960, Hughes relinquished control of the airline, as the major stockholder, through the financial terms associated with the jet purchase. As a consequence of that deal, Charles C. Tillinghast, Jr. took over as president. The battle over Hughes' control continued in court until 1966, when Hughes was forced to sell his stock. That sale brought Hughes $546,549,771.:289,299-300
Under a plan put together by Dillon, Read & Co., a $165 million loan was raised to fund a 45 jet fleet. The deal which was signed on 30 Dec. 1960 by Hughes' lawyer Raymond Holliday, who constituted one member of a three-person voting trust, the other two members, Ernest R. Breech and Irving S. Olds, represented the financing institutions. On 30 June 1961, TWA filed a federal suit against Hughes, Hughes Tool Co., and Raymond Holliday. Then on 18 April 1962, TWA filed a Delaware suit against Hughes and the Hughes Tool Co. On 10 Jan. 1973, the US Supreme Court ruled against TWA in the federal case. However, on 15 May 1986, Delaware ruled in favor of TWA for the state case, eventually awarding TWA $48,346,000.:363,372,382,384,388-389,401-402,406-407:39-40,45
TWA started operating its Convair 880s on 12 Jan. 1961, but would report a net loss of $38.7 million for 1961. Yet, by 1963, TWA reported a net profit of $19.8 million in 1963, $37 million in 1964, and $50.1 million in 1965. TWA stock went from $7.5 per share in 1962 to $62 in 1965.:376,378,399
Under new management, the Trans World Corporation (TWA's holding company) expanded to purchase Hilton Hotels, Hardee's, Canteen Corp., and Century 21 Realty. Employment grew to nearly 10,000 employees.:44:52 In 1964, TWA started a program to assist in the United States' export expansion effort that became known as the TWA MarketAir Corporate Logo to promote business passenger air travel and as a marketing tool to be used in air cargo sales. This marketing effort was initiated by the Senior Vice President, Marketing, Thomas B. McFadden, in collaboration with the Bureau of International Commerce, important U.S. financial institutions, and export expansion entities to offer tools that small and medium-sized U.S. companies could use at low or no cost to expand their exports. Staff management of this program was under the direction of Joseph S. Cooper. A key element of this program was the MarketAir Newsletter in a number of languages targeted to American exporters and international travelers.
In 1964, TWA opened its New York office.:46
Revolutionary airport design
TWA was one of the first airlines, after Delta Air Lines, to embrace the spoke-hub distribution paradigm and was one of the first with the Boeing 747. It planned to use the 747 along with the supersonic transport to whisk people between the West/Midwest (via Kansas City) and New York City (via John F. Kennedy International Airport) to Europe and other world destinations. As part of this strategy, TWA's hub airports were to have gates close to the street. The TWA-style airport design proved impractical when hijackings to Cuba in the late 1960s caused a need for central security checkpoints.
John F. Kennedy International Airport
In 1962, TWA opened Trans World Flight Center, now Terminal 5 (or simply T5), at New York City's JFK Airport and designed by Eero Saarinen. The terminal was expanded in 1969 to accommodate jumbo jets, went dormant in 2001, and underwent renovation and expansion beginning in 2005. A new terminal with a crescent-shaped entry hall and now serving JetBlue Airways opened in 2008—partially encircling the landmark. The headhouse was renovated by Morse Development along with MCR and turned into the TWA Hotel which opened on May 15, 2019.
Kansas City International Airport
Kansas City approved a $150 million bond issue for the TWA hub there. TWA vetoed plans for a Dulles International Airport-style hub-and-spoke gate structure. Following union strife, the airport ultimately cost $250 million when it opened in 1972, with Vice President Spiro Agnew officiating. TWA's gates, which were intended to be within 100 feet (30 m) of the street, became obsolete because of security issues. Kansas City refused to rebuild its terminals as Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport rebuilt its similar terminals, forcing TWA to look for a new hub. Missouri politicians moved to keep it in the state and, in 1982, TWA began a decade-long move to Lambert International Airport in St. Louis.
On April 7, 1967, TWA became one of the US's first all-jet airlines with the retirement of their last Lockheed L-749A Constellation and L-1649 Starliner cargo aircraft. That morning, throughout the TWA system, aircraft ground-service personnel placed a booklet on every passenger seat titled "Props Are For Boats".
In 1967–72, TWA was the world's third-largest airline by passenger-miles, behind Aeroflot and United. During the mid and late 1960s, the airline extended its reach as far east as Hong Kong from Europe and also introduced service to a number of destinations in Africa. In 1969, TWA carried the most transatlantic passengers of any airline; until then, Pan American World Airways had always been number one. In the Transpacific Route Case of 1969, TWA was given authority to fly across the Pacific to Hawaii and Taiwan, and for a few years, TWA had a round-the-world network.
In 1969, TWA opened the Breech Academy on a 25-acre (100,000 m2) campus in the Kansas City suburb of Overland Park, Kansas, to train its flight attendants, ticket agents, and travel agents, as well as to provide flight simulators for its pilots. It became the definitive airline facility, training other airlines staff, as well as its own.
The airline continued to expand European operations in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. In 1987, TWA had a transatlantic system reaching from Los Angeles to Bombay, including virtually every major European population center, with 10 American gateways.
TWA introduced the Boeing 747 to its fleet in 1970. After the merger with Hilton International in 1967, TWA's holding company, Trans World Corp., continued to diversity, buying Canteen Corp. in 1973, and then the Hardee's restaurant franchises. Financial woes in 1973 included a flight attendants strike, higher fuel prices after the Arab Oil Embargo, and airline deregulation.:52-56
The uniforms for the flight attendants during this decade went through three different designers. From 1971–1974, the official TWA uniform was designed by Valentino. From 1974–1978, the official TWA uniform was designed by Stan Herman, and from 1978–2001, the official TWA uniform was designed by Ralph Lauren. 
Facing the pressures of deregulation, the airline consolidated its route system around a domestic hub in St. Louis (aided by its purchase of Ozark Air Lines in 1986) and an international gateway in New York. It was able to remain profitable during this time because of its good antederegulation route positioning and the relatively low costs of adapting its operations.
In 1985, Carl Icahn bought the airline operations from the Trans World Corporation and appointed himself as chairman of the newly independent airline. Also in 1985, TWA closed its hub at Pittsburgh International Airport after nearly 20 years as a hub.
The following year, TWA acquired Ozark Air Lines, a regional carrier based at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport, for $250 million. This transaction increased TWA's share of enplanements in St. Louis from 56.6% to 82%.
TWA had pilot bases in many European cities such as Berlin, Frankfurt, Zurich, Rome, and Athens. These bases were used to provide crews for the Boeing 727s which TWA operated in its European route network. Its Boeing 727 aircraft served Cairo, Athens, Rome, London, Paris, Geneva, Berlin, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Stuttgart, Zurich, Amsterdam, Oslo, Vienna, and Istanbul.
TWA's zenith occurred in the summer of 1988, when, for the only time, the airline carried more than 50 percent of all transatlantic passengers. Every day, Boeing 747, Lockheed L-1011, and Boeing 767 aircraft departed to more than 30 cities in Europe, fed by a small but effective domestic operation focused on moving U.S. passengers to New York or other gateway cities for wide-body service across the Atlantic, while a similar inter-European operation shuttled non-U.S. passengers to TWA's European gateways—London, Paris (which was even considered a European hub by TWA), and Frankfurt — for travel to the United States.
In 1989, TWA decided to replace its fleet of Boeing 727 Series 100 aircraft with the former Ozark Airlines DC-9s. This decision was based on the economics of operating three-crew airplanes (727s) with three engines, versus operating two-crew airplanes (DC-9s) with two engines. Both airplanes had about the same passenger and cargo capacity, so it was decided to replace the Boeing fleet. To prepare for this transition, TWA positioned several million dollars worth of spare parts for the DC-9s in Germany. This was a requirement dictated by the German government. If TWA wanted to use DC-9s in the service of the German population, then TWA had to provide readily available spare parts for its fleet. The airline also sent its senior DC-9 pilots (known as Check Airmen) to Europe to observe the operations in preparation for the changeover of the crews that was to follow. Shortly before the DC-9 airplanes began arriving in Germany, however, the entire plan was cancelled because the leasing contracts that Carl Icahn had created for the former Ozark DC-9s specifically forbade any operations outside the continental limits of the United States.
In 1990, Icahn's pressing needs for additional capital forced him to sell the airline's Heathrow operations to American Airlines about the same time that Pan American World Airways sold its Heathrow operation to United.
Tillinghast ignored the transpacific market and the dedicated air cargo market. He was reported to have said, "There's no money in the Pacific and there's no money in cargo. We're gonna' shrink this airline 'til it's profitable.". These two oversights are said to have been the undoing of TWA, in addition to Sandro Andretta's resignation in December 1991.
Airline deregulation hit TWA hard in the 1980s. TWA had badly neglected domestic U.S. expansion at a time when the newly deregulated domestic market was growing quickly. TWA's holding company, Trans World Corporation, spun off the airline, which then became starved for capital. The airline briefly considered selling itself to renowned corporate raider Frank Lorenzo in the 1980s, but ended up selling to yet another corporate raider, Carl Icahn, in 1985. Under Icahn's direction, many of its most profitable assets were sold to competitors, much to the detriment of TWA. Icahn was eventually ousted in 1993, though not before the airline was forced to file for bankruptcy on January 31, 1992.
Negotiations continued until a deal was reached on 24 Aug. 1992. In that deal, Icahn had to pay TWA $150 million, the employees reduced compensation by 15% over the next three years, and the creditors forgave $1 billion in debt. When TWA emerged from bankruptcy in Nov. 1993, employees owned 45% of the company. Jeffrey H. Erickson took over as president in 1994, moved its headquarters to St. Louis, and sponsored the Trans World Dome.:68,70,76
When Carl Icahn left in 1993, he arranged to have TWA give Karabu Corp., an entity he controlled, the rights to buy TWA tickets at 45% off published fares through September 2003. This was named "the Karabu deal". The ticket program agreement, which began on June 14, 1995, excluded tickets for travel which originated or terminated in St. Louis, Missouri. Tickets were subject to TWA's normal seat assignment and boarding pass rules and regulations, were not assignable to any other carrier, and were not endorsable. No commissions were paid to Karabu by TWA for tickets sold under the ticket program agreement.
By agreement dated August 14, 1995, Lowestfare.com LLC, a wholly owned operating subsidiary of Karabu, was joined as a party to the ticket program agreement. Pursuant to the ticket program agreement, Lowestfare.com could purchase an unlimited number of system tickets. System tickets are tickets for all applicable classes of service which were purchased by Karabu from TWA at a 45% discount from TWA's published fare. In addition to system tickets, Lowestfare.com could also purchase domestic consolidator tickets, which are tickets issued at bulk fare rates and were limited to specified origin/destination city markets and did not permit the holder to modify or refund a purchased ticket. Karabu's purchase of domestic consolidator tickets was subject to a cap of $70 million per year based on the full retail price of the tickets.
On most TWA flights, Karabu could buy at a heavy discount and then sell a certain portion of all TWA's available seats. As a result, TWA was hamstrung by the high proportion of heavily discounted seats that had been sold and was essentially left with no control over its own pricing. It could not afford to discount any of its own seats, and if TWA wanted to increase revenue on busy routes by putting a larger plane into service, Karabu would only claim more seats. TWA was losing an estimated $150 million a year in revenue due to this deal.
To ameliorate the Karabu deal, TWA went in and out of bankruptcy in 1995.
TWA entered its second bankruptcy on 30 June 1995. When TWA emerged in Aug. 1995, employee ownership was reduced to 30%, but the company was relieved of $0.5 billion of its $1.8 billion debt.:70,76
By 1998, TWA had reorganized as a primarily domestic carrier, with routes centered on hubs at St. Louis and New York. Partly in response to TWA Flight 800 and the age of its fleet, TWA announced a major fleet renewal, ordering 125 new aircraft. TWA paid for naming rights for the new Trans World Dome, home of the then St. Louis Rams, in its corporate hometown. In June 1994, its headquarters moved to One City Centre in downtown St. Louis.
TWA's fleet-renewal program included adding newer and smaller, more fuel-efficient, longer-range aircraft such as the Boeing 757 and 767 and short-range aircraft such as the McDonnell Douglas MD-80 and Boeing 717. Aircraft such as the Boeing 727 and 747, along with the Lockheed L-1011 and older DC-9s, some from Ozark and the 1960s, were retired. TWA also became one of the early customers for the Airbus A318 through International Lease Finance Corporation. TWA, had it continued operating through 2003, would have been the first U.S. carrier to fly the type.
TWA had international code-share agreements with Royal Jordanian Airlines, Kuwait Airways, Royal Air Maroc, Air Europa, and Air Malta. In 1997, a code-share agreement was signed with Air Ukraine with plans to begin service between Paris and Kiev by 1999. Domestic code-share with America West Airlines was started, with long-term plans for a merger considered.
The airlines' routes were also changed; several international destinations were dropped or changed. The focus of the airline became domestic with a few international routes through its St. Louis hub and smaller New York (JFK) and San Juan, Puerto Rico hubs. Domestically, the carrier improved services with redesigned aircraft and new services, including "Pay in Coach, Fly in First", whereby coach passengers could be upgraded to first class when flying through St. Louis. Internationally, services were cut. European destinations eventually were limited to London and Paris; and in the Middle East, to Cairo, Riyadh and Tel Aviv.
Acquisition by American Airlines
Financial problems soon resurfaced and Trans World Airlines Inc. assets were acquired in April 2001 by AMR Corp., the parent company of American Airlines, which quickly formed a new company called TWA Airlines LLC. As part of the deal, TWA declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy (for the third time) the day after it agreed to the purchase. The terms of the deal included a $745 million payment. The bankruptcy court approved the purchase over a rival bid by Jet Acquisition Group, an investment group fronted by Ralph Atkin, founder of SkyWest Airlines. The total value of TWA's assets and assumed liabilities was estimated to be $2 billion. American did not claim the naming rights for the Rams' home, which eventually became the Edward Jones Dome and now The Dome at America's Center.
TWA booking ended on November 30, 2001.
TWA Airlines LLC flew its last flight on December 1, 2001, with an MD-80 aircraft (N948TW). The ceremonial last flight was Flight 220 from Kansas City to St. Louis, with CEO Captain William Compton at the controls. The final flight before TWA was 'officially' absorbed by American Airlines was completed between St. Louis and Las Vegas, Nevada, also on December 1, 2001. At 10:00 pm CST on that date, employees began removing all TWA signs and placards from airports around the country, replacing them with American Airlines signs. At midnight, all TWA flights officially became listed as American Airlines flights. Some aircraft carried hybrid American/TWA livery during the transition, with American's tricolor stripe on the fuselage and TWA titles on the tail and forward fuselage. Signage still bears the TWA logo in portions of Concourse D at Lambert St. Louis International Airport.
American Airlines acquired some Ambassadors Clubs; other Ambassadors Clubs closed on December 2, 2001.
TWA's St. Louis hub shrank after the acquisition, due to its proximity to American's larger hub at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport. As a result, American initially replaced TWA's St. Louis mainline hub with regional jet service (going from over 800 operations a day to just over 200) and downsized TWA's maintenance base in Kansas City. In September 2009, American Airlines announced its intent to shut down the St. Louis hub it inherited from TWA and, in October 2009, American Airlines announced its intent to close the Kansas City maintenance base by September 2010.
On December 16, 2013, Doug Parker, CEO of American Airlines Group, announced that TWA heritage aircraft would be added in the future, "We will continue that tradition at American, including introducing a TWA aircraft in the future and keeping a US Airways livery aircraft. That also means we will keep a heritage American livery in the fleet". On November 16, 2015, American painted a 737-823 in the TWA livery (with American titles, as shown to the right). The last of the TWA MD-83s will stay in service until September 2019. This will be the last Trans World Airlines, Inc. aircraft in the American Airlines fleet.
An original lighted TWA sign still exists (as of 2019) on the east side of Saarinen's TWA Flight Center terminal facing JetBlue's Terminal 5. The TWA Hotel will keep the lit TWA sign on the TWA Flight Center.
TWA had codeshare agreements with the following airlines:
- Air Europa 
- Air Malta
- America West Airlines 
- American Airlines
- Kuwait Airways 
- Royal Air Maroc 
- Royal Jordanian 
Accidents and incidents
Since 1942, TWA was involved in 84 incidents.
On July 11, 1946, a TWA Lockheed Constellation, NC86513, operating as TWA flight 513, a training flight, crashed in Reading, Pennsylvania. Of six crew members, only one survived. The crash was caused by a fire in the cargo hold, and grounded all Constellations from July 12 until August 23, 1946.
Another disaster that gained widespread coverage was the collision of a TWA Lockheed L-1049 Super Constellation with a United Airlines' Douglas DC-7 over the Grand Canyon in 1956, which killed all 128 people on board both airliners. This accident led to groundbreaking changes in the regulation of flight operations in the United States.
A similar event occurred in 1960, this time in New York City, when another TWA L-1049 collided with a United Douglas DC-8. The disaster killed 134 people: 84 on board the UAL DC-8, 44 on board the TWA L-1049, and six people on ground. No one survived from either airliner.
From 1969 to 1986, six TWA airliners were terrorist targets for Palestinian fedayeen, four of which were hijackings and two were bombings, mainly because the airline had a strong European presence, was a flag carrier for the United States of America, and flew to Israel.
- In 1969, TWA Flight 840 from Rome to Athens was hijacked and forcibly diverted to Damascus. Nobody was injured, but the aircraft's nose was blown up (although replaced and the plane returned to service).
- In 1970, TWA Flight 741 was hijacked after taking off from Frankfurt am Main en route to New York City. It was taken to Dawson's Field in Jordan, along with two other hijacked aircraft. All three aircraft were empty of passengers and crew when they were destroyed. A fourth aircraft landed in Cairo, and suffered a similar fate.
- In 1971, three members of the group "Republic of New Afrika" who had murdered a New Mexico State Police officer on November 8 hijacked TWA Flight 106, a Boeing 727, from Albuquerque to Havana. Passengers were released in Tampa, Florida.
- In 1974, TWA Flight 841 from Tel Aviv to New York City crashed into the Ionian Sea shortly after takeoff from Athens en route to Rome after a bomb believed to have been in the cargo hold exploded, killing all 88 on board.
- In 1976, TWA Flight 355 was hijacked by five Croatian separatists as it flew from New York–LaGuardia to O'Hare International. They ordered the pilot to fly to Montreal, where the plane was refueled, and then made additional refueling stops in Gander and Keflavik; at some of these stops, the hijackers unloaded propaganda pamphlets that they demanded to be dropped over Montreal, Chicago, New York, London, and Paris. At the plane's final stop, Paris-Charles de Gaulle, the hijackers surrendered after direct talks with U.S. Ambassador Kenneth Rush, and their explosives were revealed to be fakes.
- In 1985, TWA Flight 847 from Athens to Rome was hijacked first to Beirut, then to Algiers, back to Beirut, back to Algiers, and finally back to Beirut—with some of its fuel being paid for by the Shell credit card of flight attendant Uli Derickson. United States Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Robert Stethem was singled out by Hezbollah as a member of the American military. The hijackers beat and tortured Stethem; Mohammed Ali Hammadi murdered the dying sailor and dumped his body on the tarmac. Robert Stethem was awarded the Purple Heart and Bronze Star with burial in Arlington National Cemetery. The memory of Robert Dean Stethem is honored by his nation with a namesake U.S. Navy destroyer, the USS Stethem (DDG-63).
- In 1986, TWA Flight 840, on approach to Athens, Greece, was attacked with an on-board bomb, causing four Americans (including a nine-month-old infant) to be ejected from the aircraft to their deaths. Five others on the aircraft were injured as the cabin experienced a rapid decompression. The remaining 110 passengers survived the incident, and pilot Richard "Pete" Petersen made an emergency landing in Athens.
TWA Flight 800
TWA's worst accident occurred on July 17, 1996, when Flight 800, a Boeing 747 en route to Paris, exploded over the Atlantic Ocean near Long Island, killing all 230 people on board. The National Transportation Safety Board concluded that the most likely cause of the disaster was a center-fuel-tank explosion sparked by exposed wiring. In their subsequent coverage, the media focused heavily on the fact that TWA's airline fleet was among the oldest in service (the 747 used for Flight 800 was manufactured in 1971, making it 25 years old at the time of the incident). The flight was under the command of Captain Steven Snyder, a veteran TWA pilot.
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Fleet in 2001
When Trans World Airlines was acquired by American Airlines in 2001, their fleet contained these aircraft:
|Airbus A318-100||—||50||Orders later cancelled|
|Boeing 717-200||30||20||Majority were later sold to AirTran Airways and currently operated by Delta Air Lines|
Other remaining orders were cancelled
|Boeing 757-200||27||—||17 currently operated by Delta Air Lines|
|McDonnell Douglas MD-81||8||—|
|McDonnell Douglas MD-82||38||—|
|McDonnell Douglas MD-83||65||—||28 remain in service with American Airlines|
|Boeing 307 Stratoliner||5||1940||1951|
|Boeing 747-200||5||One crashed as TWA Flight 800.|
|Douglas DC-1||1||1933||1934||Operated the only DC-1 ever built|
|Douglas C-47 Skytrain|
|Douglas C-54 Skymaster||8||Unknown||Unknown|
|Lockheed L-1011 Tristar||41||1972||1997|
TWA, at one time, also held orders for the BAC-Aérospatiale Concorde, Sud Aviation Caravelle, Boeing 2707, and the Airbus A330 (which were taken by Cathay Pacific). The remaining A330 orders were eventually converted to A318 orders.
Fleet in 1970
|BAC/Sud Concorde||Six on option|
|Boeing SST||12 on option|
|Lockheed L-1011 TriStar||22|
TWA had crew bases in Boston, New York, Washington, D.C., St. Louis, Kansas City, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Frankfurt. International flight attendants' crew bases were located in Paris, Rome, Hong Kong, and, at one time, Cairo. Starting in 1996, TWA had a "West Coast Regional Domicile", in which pilots and flight attendants covered originating flights out of major West Coast U.S. airports from San Diego, California, north to San Francisco.
TWA operated Ambassadors Club locations in various airports. American Airlines acquired some clubs, and other clubs closed on December 2, 2001. Before the closure of the clubs, TWA maintained clubs at:
Clubs in North America open on December 1, 2001
- United States
- New York
- New York City (LaGuardia Airport)
- Washington, D.C., area (Washington Dulles International Airport)
Clubs in North America and the Caribbean closed prior to dissolution
- United States
- New Mexico
- New Jersey
- New York
- New York City (John F. Kennedy International Airport)
- Washington, D.C., area (Washington Reagan National Airport)
- Puerto Rico
Clubs in Europe closed prior to dissolution
- United Kingdom
- London (London Gatwick Airport)
- Paris (Charles de Gaulle Airport)
- Frankfurt (Frankfurt Airport) (became an American Airlines Admirals Club in 1997)
- Acquisition article from ABC News retrieved 10-30-15
- Atlanta hub closing article Archived 2010-02-24 at the Wayback Machine retrieved 9-30-08
- Atlanta hub opening article retrieved 9-30-08
- "The Rise of Airlines". Century of Flight. Retrieved 25 April 2014.
- Rigas Doganis (2006). The Airline Business. Psychology Press. Retrieved 2013-08-18.
- Barry Meier, "Ailing T.W.A. Still a Symbol, and So Perhaps a Target, Abroad", New York Times, August 25, 1996.
- Grant, Elaine (October 2005). "TWA – Death Of A Legend". St. Louis Magazine. Retrieved 25 April 2014.
- Hendricks, Mike (8 March 2014). "The why of KCI: A broken plan that many travelers still love". Kansas City Star. Retrieved 25 April 2014.
- "JFK's Most Famous Terminal May Soon Be Transformed Into a Flashy Hotel". The Atlantic Cities. 20 September 2013. Retrieved 25 April 2014.
- "Transport:TWA Trippers". Time. 103 (20). November 15, 1937. Retrieved March 11, 2011.
- https://pittsburghquarterly.com/pq-people-opinion/pq-history/item/472-taking-wing.html Pittsburgh Quarterly, Spring 2011, "Taking Wing: Commercial Aviation Took Off in Pittsburgh", Adam Lynch
- Rummel, Robert (1991). Howard Hughes and TWA. Smithsonian Institution Press. p. 32. ISBN 9781560980179.
- Karash, Julius; Montgomery, Rick (2001). TWA: Kansas City's Hometown Airline. Kansas City: Kansas City Star Books. pp. 12–14. ISBN 9780967951997.
- Cite error: The named reference
rummelwas invoked but never defined (see the help page).
- Ted Betts (Spring 1990). "DC@ and TWA". AAHS Journal.
- "International Directory of Company Histories, Vol. 35. St. James Press, 2001 - via". Fundinguniverse.com. Retrieved 2013-08-18.
- Dietrich, Noah; Thomas, Bob (1972). Howard, The Amazing Mr. Hughes. Greenwich: Fawcett Publications, Inc. pp. 145–148, 222–232.
- Handbook of Airline Statistics (biannual CAB publication)
- INS. "First negro hostess hired by TWA", The Bridgeport Post, Bridgeport, Connecticut, February 10, 1958, page 26.
- Journal of Commerce. 1965-08-31. Missing or empty
- Travel Magazine. September 1965. Missing or empty
- Marcus, Lilit (2019-05-15). "TWA Hotel opens at JFK Airport". CNN Travel. Retrieved 2019-05-17.
- http://www.timetableimages.com, June 1964 & August 8, 1968 Trans World Airlines system timetables
- "TWA route map, 04/30/1972". Retrieved 29 August 2013.
- World Airline Directory. Flight International. March 20, 1975. "508.
- "Map." Turtle Bay Association. Retrieved on January 25, 2009.
- Dallos, Robert E. (24 August 1985). "Icahn Acquires Majority of TWA's Stock". Los Angeles Times.
- "Twa To Buy Ozark For $250 Million". Chicago Tribune. 28 February 1986. Retrieved 25 April 2014.
- "RCED-88-217BR Airline Competition: Fare and Service Changes at St. Louis Since the TWA–Ozark Merger". United States General Accounting Office. 1988-09-21. Archived from the original on 2012-08-04. Retrieved 2016-09-18.
- "World Airline Directory". Flight International. March 30, 1985. 128." Retrieved on June 17, 2009.
- Brown, Betsy (1987-07-19). "Mount Kisco Awaits Arrival of T.W.A." The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-01-05.
- The table in Air Transport World for June 1989 says in 1988 TWA had fewer "Atlantic" passenger-miles than Pan Am alone.
- Shapiro, Eben (17 December 1990). "American Airlines Agrees to Buy London-U.S. Routes From T.W.A." The New York Times.
- Salpukas, Agis (10 February 1990). "Icahn on T.W.A. Woe: 'We're at Crossroads'". The New York Times.
- "In Re Trans World Airlines, Incorporated, Debtor.travellers International Ag, Appellant/cross-appellee Inappeal No. 97-7037, v. Trans World Airlines, Incorporated; Official Committee Ofunsecured Creditors for Trans World Airlines, trans World Airlines, Incorporated Appellant/cross-appellee, 134 F.3d 188 (3d Cir. 1998)". Justia Law.
- "Sample Contracts – Karabu Ticket Program Agreement – Trans World Airlines Inc. and Karabu Corp. – Competitive Intelligence for Investors". Contracts.onecle.com. Retrieved 2013-08-18.
- "TWA to Emerge from 2nd Bankruptcy : Airlines: Cost cuts have made the firm lean. But it needs revenue to survive stiff competition". Los Angeles Times. 23 August 1995.
- "Contact TWA." Trans World Airlines. May 1, 1999. Retrieved on May 18, 2009.
- Brown, Lisa R. "Lewis Rice eyes move to One City Centre." St. Louis Business Journal. Friday July 10, 2009. Retrieved on August 18, 2009.
- "LOS ANGELES IS TWA'S 2000 FOCUS CITY." Trans World Airlines. August 15, 2000. Retrieved on July 25, 2009.
- Mendis, Sean (2003-01-13). "TWA – Two years after Chapter 11". Airwhiners.net. Retrieved 2013-02-22.
- "American-TWA merger could hurt isles". Honolulu Star-Bulletin. 2001-01-08. Retrieved 2009-02-09.
- Home Page", Trans World Airlines
- "TWA Ambassadors Club", Trans World Airlines
- "Instagram". Instagram.
- "Bombs for Croatia (Part I)". Time. 1976-09-20. Retrieved 2013-08-18.
- "Bombs for Croatia (Part II)". Time. 1976-09-20. Retrieved 2013-08-18.
- "Flight International 26 March 1970". Flightglobal.com. Retrieved 2013-08-18.
- 1996 Working Agreement between Trans World Airlines and (sic) Pilots Represented by the Air Line Pilot's Association in their service: Section 6, pages 16–18.
- "View Domestic Locations", Trans World Airlines
- "TWA". 2001-11-25. Archived from the original on 2001-11-25. Retrieved 2013-08-18.
- "TWA North America Destinations", Trans World Airlines
- "TWA Transatlantic Destinations Europe and the Middle East", Trans World Airlines
Media related to Trans World Airlines at Wikimedia Commons
- TWA Museum at Charles B. Wheeler Downtown Airport in Kansas City
- Video Presentation: TWA Museum at Charles B. Wheeler Downtown Airport in Kansas City
- US Airways and American Airlines merger site
- American Airlines site
- TWA official website at the Wayback Machine (archive index)
-  has many TWA timetables from 1931 until 1968, showing where they flew, how long it took and how much it cost.
-  has three TWA timetables including the final TWA timetable.
- TWA History - TWA Official Website
- The karabu deal contract
- Historical aircraft images, market survey, & overview
- Trans World Airlines records at the University of Wyoming – American Heritage Center