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In 1995, Martin Shugrue, a former Pan Am executive, and Charles Cobb, once the Ambassador to Iceland, got together to form an airline.

Marty happened to know where they could lease some Airbus A300’s cheap. As “executor of the will” for Eastern Airlines, it was in his best interest to get some of Eastern’s jets flying.

Chuck’s company happened to own the Pan Am name and logo, which it bought at auction in ’93, as well as an operating airline, Chalk’s International Airlines, a seaplane operation that operates on Biscayne Bay.

So in September of 1996, an A300 named Clipper Fair Wind reintroduced scheduled service from Miami to JFK. The check-in was a little storefront in the IAB, shared with Icelandair and ALIA. But the food was hot, the planes were big and clean, the movie was funny, and the price was right. The next day, Clipper America flew from JFK to Los Angeles.

 

Smiling Pan Am crew on opening day at JFK If you recognise any of these people please email me their names

The original Pan Am II facility at JFK was in the east wing of the International Arrivals Building, shared with Icelandair and ALIA (Royal Jordanian).

N860PA Clipper Fleetwind an Airbus A300 being tugged away from Pier A at Miami International

Pan Am expanded fast. Within a year, they were flying to Santo Domingo, San Juan and Chicago too. Two jets had grown to five (plus two wet-leased 727’s), and two vice-presidents had grown to 17.

The little storefront terminal in the IAB was not enough. Pan Am rented half of Terminal 6, the old National building which the first Pan Am had once occupied. This terminal is now home to jetBlue. I’ve heard stories that David Neelman of jetBlue attempted to purchase the Pan Am name for his airline… wouldn’t that have been something?

Chalk’s became Pan Am Air Bridge, a nod to Pan Am’s flying-boat past.

The next plan was to merge with Carnival Airlines, a nearly-bankrupt discount carrier spawned from the cruise industry giant, that operated in competition with Pan Am on a number of routes. There were those who say Carnival’s owners saw it as a convenient way to get their name off the planes before the inevitable happened.

The result was a disaster. The level of service deteriorated, dispatch reliability was terrible and people became disgusted. One plane was dubbed the “roach coach” because of a persistent infestation.

N860PA Clipper Fair Wind at Miami Int’l
Photo © Christian Paolino
Unauthorized Reproduction Prohibited

The ValuJet crash did little to help the public’s perception of discount air carriers. The big airlines were determined to undersell the little guys, who had little other than cost to offer as an incentive.

By September, just a year after its birth, the new company was in trouble. It jettisoned the Airbuses and began dropping cities left and right. Soon there was nothing left.

Pan Am declared bankruptcy in early 1998 and stopped flying scheduled service. Martin Shugrue died in 1999, a broken man. Family and friends said he never recovered from the failure of his dream to get Pan Am back to its glorious past.…

The beginning of what could arguably called the world’s most important airline was anything but glamourous. A small seaplane, chartered at the last minute, carried some mail from Key West, FL to Havana, Cuba, thus rescuing a coveted government contract for which a scrappy young man named Juan Terry Trippe had fought hard.

What grew from that was a globe-spanning company, employing thousands of people, connecting hundreds of cities on every continent, actually INTRODUCING air service to much of the world. For years, the Pan Am brand and logo was on a par with the likes of Coca-Cola in terms of worldwide recognition, and represented adventure, prestige and glamour.

The Worldport terminal at New York’s JFK Airport was, when completed, the largest airline terminal in the world.

This is the initial 1950’s phase; a large wedge-shaped building behind it, with rooftop parking, came later.

Pan Am built its own chain of top-notch hotels, helped develop airports, and helped numerous other airlines, including Mexicana, AVENSA in Venezuela, Panagra (Pan American Grace Airways) in South America, and Ariana in Afghanistan.

With the Martin flying boat, the Boeing 314 Clipper the 377 Stratocruiser, the DC-4, the DC-7, the 707 and the 747, Pan Am was consistently among the first, if not THE first airline to operate a new type, often gambling the store on the success of a new plane.

Pan Am brought the Beatles to New York, the troops to war and back, and the food to Berlin.

 

It all changed one night in late December, 1988. That night, a tiny bomb, inside a cassette player, inside a suitcase aboard flight PA0103 en-route from London-Heathrow to New York-Kennedy, exploded. Pieces of the plane, a Boeing 747 named Maid of the Sea, fell onto the Scottish town of Lockerbie, killing 259 people on the plane and 11 people on the ground.

It was the beginning of the end. Pan Am was already in financial trouble and had been for years. The fuel crisis, the recession, the deregulation of the airline industry, and some say plain old bad management (particularly the merger with National Airlines) all contributed to an already precarious financial situation. The bad press associated with the tragedy at Lockerbie, and the fear of terrorism in general, caused transatlantic passengers to steer towards other carriers.

Pan Am had responded by selling assets: it’s Intercontinental Hotel chain is now owned by Bass Hotels, its transpacific routes went to United in 1985 as did its London service in 1991, and finally, the lion’s share: its remaining transatlantic service, its New York hub, and its east coast shuttle, went to Delta in August 1991. Delta had promised additional funding to keep alive a much smaller Pan Am based in Miami, flying only to South America and the Caribbean, but abruptly changed its mind.

On 4th December, 1991, a 727 named Clipper Goodwill, operated by Captain Mark Pyle, flew from Barbados back to Miami and into history.

Many of Pan Am’s people still work for Delta, who currently operate at the old Worldport, however they recently announced plans to demolish it (another demolition story). Ironically, the Port Authority announced similar plans for the old National Sundrome Terminal across the airport, now the home of jetBlue Airways. In the wake of September 11, however, this was delayed indefinitely.…

Welcome to panamhistory.com. The intent of this site is to provide a comprehensive history
of all three airlines that have borne the name Pan Am.

The original Pan Am (Pan American World Airways) was founded in 1927 and played
a critical role in the establishment of civil air service around the world. It perished in 1991,
a victim of airline deregulation, the Lockerbie disaster, and its own bad management.

The second Pan Am was formed by Martin Shugrue
and lasted only from 1995-1998.

In 1998, the remains of that company were purchased by a railroad company in New England.
The airline currently operates a quality, discount air service to smaller airports around the country.
The Pan Am name and globe logo are a registered trademark of
Pan American Airways, Inc., a division of Guilford Transportation.

This site is for non-commercial, educational or entertainment purposes only. Varsity Internet Presence is not and makes no claim to
be an agent of Pan American Airways, Inc., Pan Am Corp. (Florida) or the estate of Pan American World Airways. As such we cannot provide any information about moneys owed by same, nor dispersal of assets.…