The story of American Trans Air


American Trans Air, based in Indianapolis, once it was an emerging company, continuously sought an identity.

Established in 1973 as an airline provider for the Ambassadair Travel Club, it opened the service with a single Boeing 720 called "Miss Indy", which doubled its fleet five years later with a second "Spirit of Indiana." But its issuance of public transportation certificates in March 1981 allowed it to operate on its own.

Maintaining its roots in Indianapolis, it acquired more and more large aircraft, including eight 707; its first broadband, an old Laker Airways DC-10-10 registered N183AT in 1983; and a former northwestern East DC-10-40, which has the N184AT record. The quad-motor 707 was finally replaced by a greater number of fuels 727-100 tri-jets.

The total number of annual passengers increased: 96,426 in 1981, 269,086 in 1982 and 618,532 in 1983.

Trusting in Northwest for additional DC-10 acquisitions, but forced to replace the comparable TriStar when he chose to keep his aircraft, American Air Trans bought his first in 1985, operating finally 15 L-1011-1, one -100 and four – 500s.

He assumed a new operational profile when he inaugurated a regular scheduled service on the JFK-Belfast-Riga (Latvia), Indianapolis-Fort Myers, Indianapolis-Las Vegas and San Francisco-Kahului (Maui) -Hololulu routes, which were billed as much such as "American airline vacation" and "America's largest airline".

"We create comfort. Create emotion," he announced. "At American Trans Air, we know that the only excitement you want to make on vacation is the excitement you create. That's why you can count on friendly, professional American Trans Air personnel, first-class aircraft level, consumer-conscious prices and all the small extras that have become the characteristics of our growing company. "

Growing was Looking to avoid regular airline competition, it had become the largest charter operator in the United States, attributing up to 90% of its revenues to both civilian and military divisions in this sector, and the rest of scheduled operations, wet leasing, third-party driver training and maintenance of contracts.

Operating a 23-strong fleet in 1992, including seven 727-100, 12 L-1011-1 and four 757-200s, was profitable for 18 of its 19-year history, with a loss of $ 2 million The previous year the first time due to the recession and the trepidation of the trip created by the Gulf War. It transported 2.4 million passengers this year.

It was this same Gulf War, however, which served as the cornerstone of its military operations, as their aircraft appeared as part of the Civil Air Patrol fleet. Transporting 108,000 soldiers in 494 missions in support of the Operation Desert Storm, it was also instrumental in the operations of Iraqi Freedom and the Lasting Freedom, and provided 727-100 shuttle flights between the base of the air force of Nellis and the field of tests of Tonopah in Nevada.

The 1993 stretchers replaced the -100s in 1993.

American Trans Air once again adopted a new image when it devoted an important part of the resources of its aircraft to scheduled operations from a Chicago-Midway center, as well as continuing its military and government contract flights .

To facilitate the expected growth and modernization of its fleet, it placed orders of 7 737-800 and 12 757-200 in 2000, taking into account the first of the first (N301TZ) in June of the following year and the First of the latter (N550TZ) two months later, introducing a change in delivery in the process to highlight its new business oriented, business-oriented route system, which is now "ATA Airlines."

Likewise, in search of feed for small and secondary cities with regional equipment more suitable for the turbo-propeller, he acquired the Chicago Express for 1.9 million dollars in 1999 and operated as a subsidiary "ATA Connection."

His latest high image strategy, however, proved useless, forcing it to present the protection of Chapter 5 bankruptcy five years later, on October 26, 2004. The best method to keep it alive , he decided, was to use his assets for the benefit of a healthy company, which in this case was the deregulation of Southwest Airlines.

Moving six of its Midway Airport gates and 27% of its capital not voting to Southwest in exchange for an injection of money injected for life and continuing the operation under a code quota agreement in December In 2004, ATA reduced the number of destinations destined for Indianapolis to three and redistributed airplanes to Chicago, now assuming a commercial airline profile in the cities that Southwest did not do, including New York-La Guardia, Dallas / Fort Worth and San Francisco. Midway-bypassing services also allowed it to connect the central cities of the Southwest, such as Orlando, Phoenix and Las Vegas, with other holes in the route system, Denver and Honolulu, among them.

The strategy resulted in an increase in income of 20 percent for the southwest, but it does not necessarily suture the financial indemnity of AT.

To further reduce costs, it could significantly increase its fleet, with the sale of 20 737-800 and eight 757-300 and only marginally changing its capacity breach with the two-year contract, between November 2005 and November 2007 , of three former United Airlines 737 -300. Even lease rates, in the case, were too high.

Coincident service reductions are not strange, as the lights were dimmed in numerous destinations in a short interval: Boston, Newark and Minneapolis in October 2005, Indianapolis and Denver in November and Orlando, Fort Myers and San Francisco the following. April, leaving little more than the skeleton of your body once totally fleshy. In fact, 18 daily departures were sent to a single gateway to Midway Airport and only 52 broadband systems were offered. Prior approval of the courts allowed him to sell his division of Travel Club Ambassadair to Grueninger Cruises and Tours.

Although a $ 100 million financial package from MatlinPatterson's investment firm and pre-insolvency creditors allowed the now privatized operator to go bankrupt briefly and establish a service in New York-La Guardia, Houston -Hobby, Ontario, Oakland and Hilo (Hawaii). , the rise in fuel prices, the rapid resignation of a general director of a short time, the plan for the replacement of his L-1011 with DC-10, and the loss of an important military contract made him return To spiral into bankruptcy, leaving flight 4586 from Honolulu to Phoenix to sign his last landing at 0846 on August 2, 2008.