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
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 Commerce.
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 passenger.
Airlines began trading on the New York Stock Exchange on
June 10, 1939.
American entered the airline catering business with a
subsidiary called Sky Chefs, providing food service to its
passengers as well as to other airlines.
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.
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
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
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 class travel.
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 Dallas/Fort Worth.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
moved its headquarters from New York City to Dallas/Fort
Worth, Texas in 1979. The new headquarters complex also
included The Learning Centre, a training facility; the
Flight Academy, the pilot training facility, and the
Southern Reservations Office.
Robert L. Crandall was elected president and chief operating
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
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
brought American its first 767, its 500 millionth passenger
and its Chicago hub.
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
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.
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.
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
In the fall
of 1984, American retired its 747 cargo freighter fleet and
focused on smaller shipments carried in the bellies of its
In 1985, Al
Casey retired and Robert L. Crandall became chairman and
chief executive officer of AMR Corporation and American
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.
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.
more than 10,000 travel agency offices were using SABRE for
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
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.
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
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.
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) Centre opened in 1990.
1990, American's premiere international service,
International Flagship Service, was introduced. A San Juan
reservations centre opened and American expanded its Latin
American service with routes acquired from Eastern Airlines,
with Miami as the focal point of the expansion.
long-time president, C.R. Smith, died at the age of 90 in
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.
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.
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.
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.
1992, American introduced American Flagship Service, a
premium three-class transcontinental service for domestic
travellers, 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.
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 1994.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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,
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
2000, American received the CIO Magazine's 2000 Web Business
50/50 Award for its AA.com web site.
2000, AMR completed the spin-off of SABRE into its own
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.
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 Airlines, Inc.
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
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.
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.
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
On April 2,
2002, Gerard J. Arpey was elected President and Chief
Operating Officer of American Airlines.
2002, American began daily nonstop Boeing 777 service
between New York JFK and Tokyo, giving AA four U.S. gateways
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
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.