Air travel in america started shortly after the end of world war, one when, in 1925, the air mail act allowed the united states postal service to contract private air companies to operate the transcontinental mail routes that had previously been established by the us army, thus giving rise To many of america’s future legacy carriers, including american airways, later to become american airlines, the ogdensburg aeroway corporation, which became delta airlines and varney airlines, which would become united airlines. The early surge in airlines during the 1920s was due largely to the american aviation industry being long regulated, and thus carriers could be founded by either groups of pilots or businessmen, as long as they had the capital to support their ventures. However, this abrupt rise gave way to inconsistencies among each carrier and following a series of accidents, the us government intervened in order to improve and maintain safety standards resulting in the air commerce act of 1926 enacted by president calvin coolidge. As a result of the act. The aeronautic branch of the united states department of commerce was established to ensure a minimum standard of safety among airlines, including the testing and licensing of pilots, issuing certificates to guarantee the airworthiness of aircraft making and enforcing safety rules. Certificating aircraft establishing airways operating and maintaining aids. To air navigation and investigating accidents and incidents, the aeronautic branch would later evolve into the bureau of air commerce or bac, while in 1930, under the hoover administration, the air mail act was introduced in order to help save american carriers from destruction.
In the wake of the 1929 wall street crash, when a subsequent downturn in passenger and mail numbers meant these firms were losing substantial amounts of money. The airmail act of 1930 authorised by postmaster general of the united states, walter fulga brown, was brought in to essentially pay government subsidy to air mail carriers, regardless of whether their planes carried mail or flew empty and was ostensibly organized to ensure that smaller, weaker airlines, didn’t Abuse the system by carrying junk mail on their flights in order to give a false illusion of carriage and therefore boost profits. This act, however, was also subject to abuse. When, following a congressional investigation in 1934 by the newly elected roosevelt administration, it was found that walter folger brown had met with airline executives in order to divide up the air mail routes among themselves, thus preventing small carriers from bidding. Conversely, though, as airlines were to be paid regardless of whether they flew a full load of mail or an empty plane, most carriers chose to introduce passengers onto their air mail routes across the united states, thus opening up the first mainstream air travel corridors in the wake Of what was known as the air mail scandal, air mail contracts with airlines were cancelled and from 1938 the bac became the civil aeronautics authority, a new regulatory body that controlled airline fares and determined the routes that air carriers would serve under the roosevelt administration. A new division of the caa was formed called the civil aeronautics board or cab which was entrusted with safety rule, making accident investigation and economic regulation of airlines giving rise to the first modern air crash investigation following the lovettsville air disaster of august 1940.
At the time of the caa’s formation, 16 trunk care lines existed in the united states and each was provided government assistance through protection, subsidy promotion and regulation in order to help the industry develop, while also placing a notable slant against the dominant railroad companies. By specifically forbidding them to have financial interest in an airline in its early years, the caa acted in a similar manner to the earlier interstate, commerce, commission or icc of 1890, which was authorized to issue certificates to provide air service between specific points and to approve all Fares and schedules: this remained the status quo for 20 years, when, in 1958, congress introduced the federal aviation act, which gave the caas functions to a new independent body, called the federal aviation agency later to become the federal aviation administration in 1967, thus transferring safety rulemaking from Cab to the new faa, while also making it responsible for a common civil military system of air navigation and air traffic control. The act had been drafted in response to the increasing size of airliners during the early 1950s, thus putting even more passengers at risk. In the event of a disaster such as the 1956 grand canyon, mid air collision, when a united airlines douglas dc 7 struck a transworld airlines, lockheed l, 1049 superconstellation over the grand canyon national park, killing a total of 128 passengers and making it the first commercial airline Crash to result in more than 100 deaths, the arrival of the act coincided with the launch of the jet age, with boeing 707 airliner the same year, an aircraft that not only increased speed and comfort for both domestic and international travel, but also helped to bring the Concept of flying to the mass market.
The problem was that, with such severe airline regulation, the market was essentially monopolized by the 10 surviving airlines of the original 16 trunk carriers that had existed when it was first introduced in 1938, accounting for 90 of the american aviation market, while congress and the cab were Content to leave regulation as it was by the end of the 1960s, it was becoming very clear that, with the ever expanding airline market, putting a stranglehold on the number of carriers that could operate profitably was both unhealthy to the industry and the passenger. With a lack of suitable competition within the marketplace, fair prices set by the ca b were entirely theirs to dictate and therefore completely inflexible, especially as operating costs began to increase following the introduction of wide body jet airliners like the boeing 747 douglas dc 10 and lockheed Tristar, while wide bodies could carry an exceptional number of passengers, especially when compared to the previous narrowbody 707 and douglas dc 8, they were much more expensive to operate, and thus the trunk carriers were unable to raise prices easily, which in turn caused some to start making Losses, twa and pan am being prime examples. The cab’s attitude during this period was that airlines were seen as public utilities, with fair prices regulated strictly by the cab, while the airlines were entitled to a 12 return on investment. But this percentage was based on the cabs assumption that the airline would fill 55 of its seats at full fare and that every aircraft had the same number of seats without the ability to compete on price airlines instead had to attract customers through onboard amenities and service.
With rows of seating removed in order to improve legroom, while in some instances, piano bars and social spaces were provided to give passengers a more luxurious feel, but the cab fare regulations did not account for these individual airline configurations or specifications, regardless aside from the stagnating 10 Trunk carriers, attempts by new airlines to enter into the american trunk air travel market were near impossible, as the cab did not admit any new trunk lines after 1938. Only permitting regional airlines, supplemental carriers, interstate carriers and air taxis, while airlines could apply for trunk status, the cab had to provide a review of the applicant’s suitability to join what was ostensibly a very exclusive corporate club, as was the case with world airways in 1967, who, When they applied to run a scheduled service between new york and los angeles, was subject to a six year, wait as the cab debated the proposal before eventually refusing their application on the basis that it was out of date. Even for those airlines that were part of the trunk services, attempting to introduce new routes was again a task for all with difficulty as under cab regulations. An air carrier that wanted to deploy its assets more efficiently would have trouble obtaining cab authority to abandon a route with continental airlines being subject to an eight year. Wait before it could add a service from san diego to denver only achieved following a suit to the u.s court of appeals against the cab.
Even cargo airlines were subject to regulation with federal, express and flying tigers line both facing pushback by the cab. With regard to the operation of larger aircraft on their trunk routes, therefore, by 1973, the situation was that the cab held almost a dictatorial position over the american airline industry, even controlling what aircraft certain companies should be allowed to buy, as was the case for american carriers. Attempting to purchase the british built bac 111 regional jets during the 1960s, wherein the cab barred carriers such as bonanza airlines, from buying the type under the guise of requiring subsidies to operate a jet on their routes, but were happy to allow other airlines to use american Built jets, such as douglas dc 9s and boeing 727 100s on the same operations. The cabs grip on the aviation industry, however, was rumbled severely following the 1973 oil crisis, causing the price of fuel to spike and resulting in the worst economic recession. Since the end of world war ii, meaning fewer passengers were flying exacerbated by capacity limitation agreements made with the cab, wherein the latter would have proven agreement between two or three trunks on a particular route to limit the number of seats they would offer by 1975. The trunk carriers were operating planes with load factors between 53 and 56 percent, while load factors on transcontinental routes were hovering at around 45 percent, resulting in the airlines making losses in excess of 100 million dollars or 483 million in 2020.
Working on the basis of an earlier incentive for discount fares for certain passengers, such as youth fares, united airlines, american airlines and twa proposed to reintroduce discount fares in order to try and win back passengers. But the cab in early january 1975 promptly suspended all discount fares. Because united had proposed them in all its markets, only increasing support for liberalising fair regulation in a panic. The cab made matters worse by proposing to eliminate affinity charters at a time when they accounted for 40 percent of domestic traffic. 54 of us international traffic and 80 percent of the supplemental airlines traffic instead proposing to substitute more constricted advanced booking charters, while also refusing to liberalise inclusive tour charters, which had been approved by the cab in 1966 and thus introduced highly expensive, fixed period. Tour services that required customers to make at least three stops stay two weeks and pay a minimum of 110 percent of the published airfare for the entire route. The final nail in the coffin for the cab and its hold on the regulated trunk airline market was due to the highly publicized success of interstate carriers like pacific southwest airlines or psa and southwest airlines. These two carriers not being regulated by the cab and were therefore selling seats for much less than the regulated competition. The first seeds of what would become the low cost carrier with airfares skyrocketing and fewer passengers flying intervention by the u.s congress was inevitable. The government now unwilling to subsidise the cabs trunk carriers using taxpayers money in order to both undertake their day to day operations, but also to retrofit their fleet to meet new noise and fuel efficiency regulations ushered in after the oil crisis after 40 years of airline regulation.
In 1978, under the carter administration, the airline deregulation act was signed on october 24th, removing federal government control over fares routes and the market entry of new airlines, while also phasing out the influence of the cabs regulations and eventually the cab itself, which was disbanded in 1985. While customers supported deregulation as it now meant that airfares could be priced to sell and therefore largely reduced, almost all of the airlines were violently opposed to the act, citing that allowing hordes of carriers to enter the trunk line market would impact on the overall safety of The industry, through inconsistent practices similar to those in the 1920s, while also depreciating the value of trunk routes to smaller cities beyond the airlines themselves, banks and other investors became nervous due to the impending financial shake up with the comfortable monopoly of the cabs regulated trunk carriers. Now open to free market competition, thus reducing their potential profits. While airline unions feared the arrival of non unionized carriers over which they had no influence, the resulting fallout was a sink or swim. Bloodbath of legacy carriers now unsupported by the cab and startup airlines that had to make an immediate impact in order to reach break even the outcome being survival of the fittest. Weaker legacy carriers such as braniff pan am, and eastern airlines, which had long been weighed down by loss, making operations struggled and ultimately collapsed under deregulation. While many new low cost carriers, including the likes of people, express and jet america, airlines would fail to gain a necessary foothold on the market and thus cease operations before the end of the 1980s.
Despite protests by the airlines, financials and unions, the aviation industry in america grew significantly during the 1980s and for the airlines that failed, many more were founded allowing for strong competition that would separate the men from the boys when it came to providing the best fares on Board service routes and timings in the decades since deregulation in 1978, the free market approach has largely resulted in consolidation of america’s main carriers, both legacy and low cost with the aviation market crashes following the attacks of 911 and the 2008 credit crunch, further cutting down the Numbers of airlines left in operation, but in so doing leaving the survivors in a stronger position. Today, the american airline market comprises five mainline legacy: carriers, american airlines, delta airlines, united airlines, alaska airlines and hawaiian airlines, and six mainline low cost carriers. Allegiant air, frontier jet, blue, south west spirit, airlines and sun country airlines, while all other carriers are comprised of regional cargo charter and air taxi operators, many of which are either affiliated or franchisees of the mainline carriers prior to the outbreak of 2020. The american aviation market was far stronger for deregulation than it had been before, as the free market model better suited. The geographical and social needs of u.s travel demand, while the cabs regulations allowed the trunk carriers of the 1960s and 70s an essential monopoly on the primary air corridors across the united states.