Lehman Brothers Collection - Contemporary Business Archives

Harvard Business School Baker Library Historical Collections

Lehman Brothers Collection

Twentieth-Century Business Archives

American Airlines, Inc. - Lehman Brothers Collection

American Airlines, Inc.

List of Deals

American Airways was founded in 1930 by Charles Coburn. It was the result of a merger of eighty-three small airlines, including Embry-Riddle, Colonial Air Transport, and Robertson Aircraft, the former employer of Charles Lindbergh. By 1934 American Airways was experiencing financial difficulties and the company was acquired by E.L. Cord, who changed the name to American Airlines.

In 1936 American began flying the Douglas DC-3 in commercial service. This larger, twenty-one-passenger plane helped American to become the largest domestic air carrier in 1940 in terms of revenue passenger miles.

During World War II, American devoted over half of its resources to the military airline, Air Transport Command. The remaining fleet supported a huge increase in domestic demand. In 1942 the company created an airline-catering subsidiary, Sky Chefs. It also added the first domestic scheduled U.S. freight service in 1944 with the D-3.

In the years following World War II, American grew considerably as it added new types of aircraft and destinations. From the mid-1940s to 1950, American operated American Overseas Airlines, a trans-Atlantic division that it sold to Pan American in 1950. American began the first scheduled non-stop transcontinental flights in 1953 with the eighty-passenger DC-7, and in 1959 it added the Boeing 707. It also added the Boeing 727 in 1964, the Boeing 747 in 1970, and the Douglas DC-10 in 1971.

The company's growth was fueled by a series of innovations, such as the introduction in 1959 of SABRE (Semi-Automated Business Research Environment), an electronics reservations database that came to be regarded as the best in the industry. The company also introduced One-Stop-Automated-Check-In in 1974 and Super Saver fares in 1977.

AMR Corporation was created in 1982 as a holding company to acquire the assets of American Airlines. American passed United Airlines in passenger traffic in 1985 and after twenty years regained the title of number one airline in the United States.

In 1998 American expanded internationally through the "Oneworld" alliance, which initially included British Airways, Canadian Airlines, Cathay Pacific, and Quantas. With this alliance, members agreed to link their frequent-flier programs and give each other access to their airport lounge facilities.

In 2000 AMR spun off Sabre and in 2001 it expanded by buying the assets of bankrupt TWA. In 2001 AMR lost two aircraft in the September 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.

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