Sunday, July 26, 2009

Who's That? Part 10 - Remembrances

This week's edition was a blast from the past. Several of these carriers are no longer in operation, thanks primarily to the reduction in air travel post-September 11 and last summer's skyrocketing fuel costs. Some are just no longer seen at LAX, although they may some day return. And a few are obsolete schemes or names that have been superceded.

ATA Airlines, formerly American Trans Air, was based in Indianapolis. We used to see B753's like this one, as well as B752's and B738's. ATA was the last scheduled operator of the L1011 Tristar at LAX; I wish I had some shots of them. ATA flew from LAX to Hawaii, Indianapolis, and I think somewhere in Florida too - perhaps Clearwater/St. Petersburg. In addition to its scheduled operations, ATA also did a lot of charter work, especially transporting US military personnel. ATA was the largest charter airline in the US, and until the shutdown they carried more US troops than any other commercial carrier. It was the loss of their military contract that forced the shutdown in April, 2008. At the time of the shutdown, there were a couple of ATA aircraft on the ground at LAX. They stayed here for a few days before being ferried out. I've since seen at least one former ATA aircraft pass through LAX on its way to (or with) a new operator.

MAXjet Airways flew from LAX to London's Stansted airport using B762's. The company was based in the Washington D.C. area, but didn't actually fly there. Besides LAX, MAXjet flew from Las Vegas and New York's JFK airports to London. They also provided luxury charter services. The all business-class airline was only in operation for about two years, from 2005 to 2007. They shutdown on Christmas Eve after financing arrangements fell through. To their credit, MAXjet reportedly made a good effort to get all of their stranded passengers taken care of on other carriers.

There have been several airlines to carry the famed Pan Am logo. The original Pan Am, started in the late 1920's to carry the mail between Key West, Florida, and Havana, Cuba, shut down in 1991. Since then, the name and logo have been sold and/or transferred to other companies. The current owner is a New England railroad: Pan Am Railways. The B727 shown here passed through LAX sometime in late 2006 or perhaps 2007; Boston-Maine Airways, the then-owner of the name, shut down in early 2008. This would have been some sort of charter flight, as they had no scheduled operations west of the Mississippi River.

Champion Air was a charter airline based at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. Most of their business was vacation or sports team charters, but they were also a contractor for the Justice prisoner transport system. Champion declared bankruptcy in 2008 after losing their charter contracts to Northwest Airlines. This was the last Champion airplane I saw at LAX, about a week or so before their shutdown. The DC3 is permanently based here, on display at the LAX Flight Path learning Center

Aviacsa is based in Monterrey, Mexico, but hasn't been seen here at LAX since last year (or perhaps longer - I don't remember when they disappeared). The airline was still flying into Las Vegas, but the Mexican government grounded them in June for alleged maintenance irregularities and outstanding airspace fees. Aviacsa was the last carrier to bring in early-model B737's like this -200. Compared to the newer models, this one was smoky, noisy, and a runway hog.

LTU International, based in Dusseldorf, Germany, has merged with Air Berlin, whom we see here several times a week during the summer travel season.

This Delta Airlines scheme appeared in 1997 but only lasted for a few years before being replaced with the 'flying colors' tail in 2000. I think I took this photo in late 2007 or perhaps early 2008; by summer of 2008 all of the aircraft had been repainted. While I wasn't terribly fond of this scheme, I prefer it over the latest 'lazy widget' design.

Alitalia flew B772's into LAX for maybe a year before they disappeared in the wake of their bankruptcy last year. The Alitalia name lives on in the form of a new airline that is partly owned by Air France-KLM, but which so far has not returned to LAX.

Dublin-based Aer Lingus is the national flag carrier of Ireland, and has an all-Airbus fleet. They pulled out of Los Angeles last November. At the time we thought (hoped) they would be back in the spring, but it was not to be.

Air India was the world's first all-jet airline in 1962. They started service to LAX in 2000, and pulled out last year after merging with Indian Airlines. The new company retains the Air India name, and is based in Mumbai.

Song was a Delta Airlines brand that competed with Jet Blue out of New York's JFK airport. The service lasted for three years, being phased out in 2006. Song had a fleet of B752's in a one-class configuration; all have since been reconfigured and repainted in the new Delta livery.

Ted was a United Airlines brand that competed with Frontier out of the two airlines' Denver hub. Like Delta's Song, Ted had a one-class fleet of A320's. Also like Song, Ted has been folded into the mainline operation, although Ted lasted longer, from 2004 through early 2009.

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