On the morning of April 15, 1926, a young aviator named
Charles A. Lindbergh stowed a bag of mail in his little DH-4 biplane and
took off from Chicago for St. Louis. Later that day, he and two other pilots
flew three plane loads of mail from St. Louis to Chicago.
At the time, Lindbergh was chief pilot of Robertson
Aircraft Corporation of Missouri, which was the second aviation company to
hold a U.S. airmail contract. It was one of scores of companies that
eventually consolidated to form the modern-day American Airlines.
The consolidation began in 1929, when The Aviation
Corporation was formed to acquire young aviation companies, including
Robertson. In 1930, The Aviation Corporation's airline subsidiaries were
incorporated into American Airways, Inc. In 1934, American Airways became
American Airlines, Inc.
On May 13, 1934, Cyrus Rowlett Smith became president of
American. Except for a period during World War II, "Mr. C.R." continued as
chief executive officer until 1968, when he was named U.S. Secretary of
On June 25, 1936, American was the first airline to fly
the Douglas DC-3 in commercial service. By the end of the decade, American
was the nation's number one domestic air carrier in terms of revenue
passenger miles. On Feb. 16, 1937, American carried its one-millionth
American Airlines began trading on the New York Stock
Exchange on June 10, 1939.
In 1942, American entered the airline catering business
with a subsidiary called Sky Chefs, providing food service to its passengers
as well as to other airlines.
In 1944, American introduced the first domestic scheduled
U.S. freight service with the DC-3. As the business grew, Douglas DC-4,
DC-6A and DC-7 freighters were put into service in the 1940s and 1950s.
During World War II, half of American's fleet was turned
over to the military airline, Air Transport Command, along with the crews
who operated all over the world. The remaining fleet and personnel handled a
vast increase in demand for air travel within the United States.
From 1945 to 1950, American operated American Overseas
Airlines (AOA), a trans-Atlantic division, which served a number of European
countries. This was American's first European service. AOA was formed as a
result of a merger between the international division of American and a
company called American Export Airlines. AOA merged with Pan American World
Airways in 1950.
In 1946, American established its Tulsa Maintenance &
Engineering Base. The end of World War II brought a series of new aircraft
to fill the expanded need for air transportation. In 1947, American's first
Douglas DC-6 entered service followed by the Convair 240 in 1948. By 1949
American had become the only airline in the United States with a completely
post-war fleet of pressurized passenger airplanes.
In 1948, American introduced the Family Fare Plan to
enable families to travel together at reduced rates. It also introduced
scheduled coach service, an economical and comfortable alternative to first
In 1952, American introduced the Magnetronic Reservisor to
keep track of available seats on flights. In 1953, American pioneered
nonstop transcontinental service in both directions across the United States
with the Douglas DC-7.
In 1957, the world's first special facility for flight
attendant training, the American Airlines Stewardess College, was built in
On Jan. 25, 1959, American became the first airline to
offer coast-to-coast jet service with the Boeing 707. Also in Jan. 1959,
American introduced the Lockheed Electra, the first U.S. designed turboprop
airplane. American continued into the jet age with the introduction of the
turbofan engine in 1961, another industry first for American, and with the
Convair 990 in 1962, also powered by fan-jets.
At the end of 1959 and into the early 1960s, American,
teaming up with IBM, introduced and implemented SABRE (Semi-Automated
Business Research Environment), the largest electronic data processing
system for business use. By 1964, the SABRE network extended from coast to
coast and from Canada to Mexico. It became the largest real-time data
processing system, second only to the U.S. government's SAGE system.
American added other jets throughout the 1960s and 70s,
including the Boeing 727 (1964) and the Boeing 747 (1966), as the older
aircraft were retired. American's last piston airplane flight was operated
with a DC-6 in Dec. 1966. In 1968, American was the first to order the
McDonnell Douglas DC-10, which made its first scheduled flight in Aug. 1971.
American gained its first Caribbean routes through a
merger with Trans Caribbean Airways in 1970. It expanded those routes
throughout the early 70s, and acquired other Caribbean routes in 1975 from
Pan American World Airways Inc.
In Feb. 1974, Albert V. Casey was elected president and
chief executive officer; in April of that year he also assumed the position
of chairman of the board.
Also in 1974, American introduced One-Stop-Automated
Check-in. American's first Boeing 747 freighter, capable of carrying 221,000
pounds of cargo, went into service in November. In 1975, American began
marketing SABRE to travel agencies in the U.S.
On April 24, 1977, American introduced the most popular
fare in its history, the Super Saver. Initially offering discount fares from
New York and California, Super Saver was expanded to all of American's
routes in March 1978 and later to Mexico and Canada.
Airline deregulation took place in 1978 and in January
1979, American launched a major route expansion, inaugurating service to new
routes and new destinations across the U.S. and the Caribbean.
American moved its headquarters from New York City to
Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas in 1979. The new headquarters complex also included
The Learning Center, a training facility; the Flight Academy, the pilot
training facility, and the Southern Reservations Office.
In 1980, Robert L. Crandall was elected president and
chief operating officer.
With fuel costs soaring, American accelerated the
retirement of the Boeing 707 fleet in 1980. By August 1981, American had
retired all its Boeing 707s aircraft, including their freighters.
In 1981, American introduced the AADVANTAGE travel awards
program, a revolutionary marketing program to reward frequent fliers. Also
that year it unveiled "AAirpass," a concept that guaranteed fixed personal
and business air travel costs with five-year to lifetime range of options.
On June 11, 1981, American established its Dallas/Fort
Worth hub. Later American added new cities and new routes to strengthen its
Early 1982 brought American its first 767, its 500
millionth passenger and its Chicago hub.
In April 1982, it began interchange service with Alaska
Airlines, linking Anchorage and Fairbanks with Houston and DFW via Seattle
with 727s. American also returned to Europe with service between London's
Gatwick Airport and DFW in May 1982.
On May 19, 1982, stockholders approved a plan of
reorganization and a new holding company was formed, AMR Corporation, which
became the parent company of American Airlines, Inc.
In 1983, American added the McDonnell Douglas MD-80 (Super
80) and announced an agreement with Pan American World Airways to exchange
Boeing 747s for Pan Am's McDonnell Douglas DC-10s.
On Dec. 12, 1983, AMR Services was formed as a subsidiary
to provide aviation services to other airlines.
In 1984, American introduced the American Eagle system, a
network of regional airlines offering high-level service from small
communities to large cities through connections to and from American
In the fall of 1984, American retired its 747 cargo
freighter fleet and focused on smaller shipments carried in the bellies of
its passenger aircraft.
In 1985, Al Casey retired and Robert L. Crandall became
chairman and chief executive officer of AMR Corporation and American
Ultimate Super Saver fares were introduced in 1985,
offering American passengers up to 70 percent discounts and competition for
the low-service, cut-rate carriers which had sprung up in the wake of
deregulation. American also unveiled its Senior SAAVers Club, which offered
discounts to senior citizens.
In 1985, American introduced second-day door-to-door
freight delivery using passenger aircraft. In 1986 and 1987, the delivery
network expanded and evolved into same-day service by 1988.
By 1985, more than 10,000 travel agency offices were using
SABRE for travel reservations.
American opened its Nashville hub in April 1986 and its
San Juan hub in November. Also in 1986, American employees topped 50,000 for
the first time and American sold its Sky Chefs subsidiary and completed the
acquisition of Air California (Air Cal).
By 1987, American had completed an underground facility --
secured against fire, earthquakes and any other disasters -- in Tulsa, Okla.
to house the SABRE computer equipment and software that formed the world's
largest private real-time computer network and travel information data base.
Also in 1987, SABRE became available via the personal computer.
In 1988, American acquired the Airbus A300-600ER to serve
its Caribbean markets from locations on the mainland and in 1989, American
put its first Boeing 757 into service. 1988 also saw the opening of
American's reservations office in Raleigh/Durham, N.C.
Also in 1989, American opened its seventh hub in Miami on
Sept. 13. American also began construction on its second major maintenance
base at Alliance Airport in Fort Worth. Ground was also broken in Fort Worth
for a 750,000-square-foot expansion of AMR's corporate headquarters complex.
Ground was broken again in 1990 for the expansion of
American's facilities at DFW International Airport, an expansion of the
pilot-training facilities at American's Flight Academy in the headquarters'
complex, and a new reservations center in Tucson. Also, a new
state-of-the-art System Operations Control (SOC) Center opened in 1990.
Also in 1990, American's premiere international service,
International Flagship Service, was introduced. A San Juan reservations
center opened and American expanded its Latin American service with routes
acquired from Eastern Airlines, with Miami as the focal point of the
American's long-time president, C.R. Smith, died at the
age of 90 in 1990.
In 1991, American flew its billionth passenger, expanded
its European routes, opened its western reservations office in Tucson, and
took delivery of its first McDonnell Douglas MD-11 and Fokker 100 aircraft.
On January 16, 1992, American opened the first
state-of-the-art airline maintenance facility to be built in the United
States in more than 20 years - the Alliance Maintenance and Engineering Base
at Fort Worth's Alliance Airport.
In 1992, American introduced Value Pricing. The plan was
designed to make fares simple, sensible and fair. It offered customers
substantially greater travel flexibility, and was a major revision to
American's fare structure. Intense price competition made the Value Plan
unfeasible, however, and American was forced to abandon it.
AMR Consulting Group, a new subsidiary, was formed in 1992
to take advantage of a growing demand for consulting services in
airline-related businesses. This expanded into the AMR Training and
Consulting Group in July 1993.
Also in 1992, American introduced American Flagship
Service, a premium three-class transcontinental service for domestic
travelers, and also continued its expansion in the European market with
flights to Berlin and Paris.
In 1993, AMR Corporation formed the SABRE Technology
Group. It included AMR Information Services (AMRIS), SABRE Travel
Information Network (STIN), SABRE Computer Services (SCS), SABRE Development
Services (SDS), and AMR Project Consulting and Risk Assessment Units.
On July 3, 1993, the American Airlines C.R. Smith Museum
opened at its headquarters complex in Fort Worth.
In April 1994, American signed a comprehensive service
agreement with Canadian Airlines International to provide access to
state-of-the-art airline administrative services and computer technology.
Canadian Airlines successfully converted to AMR computer systems in November
In May 1994, American added additional routes to London to
become the airline with more service to Britain than any other U.S. airline.
Also in 1994, American launched its first non-smoking transatlantic flight.
In October of 1994, American launched First Call, allowing
travel planners to speak with a group specialist to evaluate group travel
needs, negotiate fares, book space and generate agreements in minutes.
In 1995, Donald J. Carty became president of the AMR
Airline Group and of American Airlines. Also in 1995, American announced its
World Wide Web site.
In 1996, AMR announced the SABRE Group's filing for
Initial Public Offering (IPO), the first step in making SABRE its own
In Sept. 1996, American officially launched AAccess
ticketless travel and AAccess boarding. Also in 1996, American added
in-flight laptop computer capabilities to its aircraft, and announced that
it would equip certain aircraft with defibrillators.
In 1997, all American Airlines flights became non-smoking.
Also, American introduced "stickerless" upgrades and became the first
airline to expand ticketless travel to all transatlantic flights. Also in
1997, American introduced the College SAAver program.
On May 20, 1998, Donald J. Carty became chairman,
president and chief executive officer of AMR Corporation and American
Airlines, Inc. upon the retirement of Robert Crandall.
In 1998, American announced the addition of defibrillators
to all of its aircraft, and said American Eagle would acquire small regional
jets. Plans for a new Dallas reservations center also were announced.
Additionally in 1998, American announced its acquisition
of Reno Air and American Eagle's acquisition of Business Express. American
Eagle completed its acquisition of Business Express in March of 1999, and
Reno Air was fully integrated on August 31, 1999.
On Sept. 21, 1998, American and four other airlines
announced a new customer-driven global alliance - oneworldTM
- launching a multi-million dollar program designed to raise the standard of
global air travel. The new alliance took off on Feb. 1, 1999.
In 1999, American dedicated the new Terminal B facilities
at DFW and announced plans to build a new terminal at New York's JFK
Airport, breaking ground in New York in November.
In 1999, American also introduced the Boeing 777 and the
737-800 and completed the installation of defibrillators on all its
aircraft. Also, American became the first airline to offer DVD in-flight
video players on scheduled flights.
Also in 1999, American began an expansion of its West
Coast service, and American Eagle opened a new terminal in Los Angeles and
took delivery of its first 37-seat Embraer ERJ-135.
In February 2000, American announced More Room Throughout
Coach, removing an average of two rows on every aircraft to add legroom
throughout the entire coach cabin. American later decided to expand legroom
in business class.
In March 2000, American received the CIO Magazine's 2000
Web Business 50/50 Award for its
AA.com web site.
Also in 2000, AMR completed the spin-off of SABRE into its
In 2000, American announced plans to renovate Terminal B
at Boston's Logan Airport and also announced the addition of fully flat
Flagship Suite seating for its Boeing 777. Also, American named Alliance as
the "maintenance home" for its 777 fleet.
In January 2001, American's first aircraft featuring
bigger overhead storage bins took to the skies. Also, American announced
that it had agreed to purchase substantially all the assets of Trans World
In April 2001, American Airlines completed acquisition of
TWA's assets. At about the same time, American opened a new Admirals Club
and Lounge facilities at Dallas/Fort Worth Airport in memory of former
Special Services employee Walter Henry Hagan.
In 2001, American Eagle accepted delivery of 15 44-seat
regional jets (ERJ-140) manufactured by Embraer of Brazil. American also
announced plans to accelerate retirement of 36 aircraft -- 19 DC-9s, 12
Boeing 727s, 4 MD-11s and one Fokker 100.
Also in 2001, American Airlines was recognized by the
State of California EPA's 2001 Governor's Environmental and Economic
Leadership Awards Program. The award complemented the previous Breath of
Life Award, the Clean Cities Award at El Paso and the National Clean Cities
Award received by American Airlines earlier this year.
In October 2001, American announced that it will
accelerate construction of its new $1.3 billion terminal at New York's JFK
Airport, advancing the completion date nine months to September 2006.
On April 2, 2002, Gerard J. Arpey was elected President
and Chief Operating Officer of American Airlines.
In April 2002, American began daily nonstop Boeing 777
service between New York JFK and Tokyo, giving AA four U.S. gateways to
On April 30, 2002, American operated its final Boeing 727
passenger flight, marking the retirement of an airline industry workhorse by
its largest operator. AA began flying the 727 in 1964 and was among the
first to operate the airplane. At its peak, AA operated 182 Boeing 727s.
In May 2002, American was named to DiversityInc.comís
annual list of Top 50 Companies for Diversity, coming in 15th. AA was the
only airline to make the list.
On Aug. 1, 2002, American officially dedicated its $300
million improvement project at Los Angeles International Airportís Terminal
4, culminating four years of work on what was the largest project of its
type ever undertaken by a single carrier at LAX.
In a move to make popular Web fares more widely available
to consumers while reducing its total distribution costs, American on Sept.
25, 2002, announced its innovative EveryFare program. With EveryFare, AA
provides traditional travel agents in the U.S. and Canada the option to
access and sell its very low Web fares, previously offered only via
Americanís own Web site, AA.com, and select low-cost distribution channels.
In exchange, travel agents provide AA with long-term distribution cost
savings through a creative cost-sharing arrangement.
On April 24, 2003, Edward A. Brennan was named Executive
Chairman of AMR Corporation and Gerard J. Arpey became Chief Executive
Officer and President of AMR.