Lehman Brothers Collection - Contemporary Business Archives

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Lehman Brothers Collection

Twentieth-Century Business Archives

Transcontinental & Western Air, Inc. - Lehman Brothers Collection

Transcontinental & Western Air, Inc.

List of Deals

Transcontinental & Western Air Inc. (later known as TWA) was organized on July 16, 1930, as the result of a merger between three U.S. domestic airlines: Western Air Express, Transcontinental Air Transport, and Pittsburgh Aviation Industries Corporation. The idea for the merger came from postmaster Walter Folger Brown, who was responsible for handing out mail contracts to airlines for specific routes. He believed that two airlines should not operate over the same route, especially if both were receiving government mail payments. After this, the postmaster general continued to award TWA further segments of the transcontinental route despite lower bids by smaller carriers, having decided that TWA was the best bet for the long-term stability of the airmail network.

After the merger, the new airline received its first mail contract immediately and began flying coast-to-coast flights on October 25, 1930, with an overnight stop in Kansas City.

The newly created company was organized so that Western Air and Transcontinental each held a 47 ½ percent interest and P.I.A.C. owned 5 percent.

Transcontinental was created on May 16, 1928, by a group led by Canadian businessman Clement Keys, who decided to offer a coast-to-coast service for passengers that would combine both air and rail travel. Passengers using this service would fly Ford Trimotors during the day and ride Pullman Railway sleepers at night. While Transcontinental enlisted the support of famous aviator Charles Lindbergh to draw attention to the service, the business was unprofitable.

In contrast to Transcontinental, Western Air Express was a successful mail and passenger airline that was formed on July 13, 1925.

The third company, Pittsburgh Aviation Industries Corporation, was a holding company organized in February 1929 with five subsidiaries.

Transcontinental & Western Air experienced continued growth during the 1930s. In 1933 TWA was the first U.S. airline to fly a scheduled coast-to-coast route and was using dated Fokker aircraft.

To meet the growing demand for air travel, the airline purchased thirteen twin-engine Douglas transport airplanes in 1936 that included “passenger sleepers” for the service between New York and California. In September 1936 the airline flew over 8 million passenger miles, a 31 percent increase over September 1935. Operating revenues also rose significantly in the 1930s: In 1934 they were $2.9 million; by 1936 they had risen to $6.2 million.

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