|Hubs||Seattle Boeing Field,|
|Secondary hubs||Seattle Tacoma,|
|Fleet size||18 aircraft|
(9 Boeing 707,
8 Boeing 720,
1 Rockwell Aero Commander
(as of April 1979))
|Company slogan||EO Eisenberg's operation|
|Headquarters||Seattle Boeing Field|
|Key people||A. Joël Eisenberg,|
Richard C. Neese,
Capt Peter Pietscher
Aeroamerica, Inc. was founded as a US supplemental carrier[nb 1] in 1973. It was headquartered at Seattle Boeing Field, Washington. In 1975 the airline established an overseas base at Tegel Airport in what used to be West Berlin prior to German reunification. Berlin Tegel was the main operating base from 1975 until 1979. Aeroamerica ceased operations in 1982.
Aeroamerica was incorporated in August 1973. On January 9, 1974, the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) certificated Aeroamerica as a commercial airline operator. This was followed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) transferring Standard Airways's dormant Air Operator Certificate (AOC) to the newly formed airline.
Aeroamerica commenced commercial operations in 1974 with six-second-hand Boeing 720 jetliners. One of these was sourced from Aer Lingus while the remaining five were all ex-Braniff examples. (Aeroamerica's first aircraft had actually been delivered the year before, the same month the company had been incorporated.)
Aeroamerica's Boeing 720s were configured in a 149-seat, single-class seating arrangement. Although Aeroamerica applied similar colour schemes featuring the same basic shapes to most of its aircraft, the actual colour combination differed on each individual plane.
Following the decision of US supplemental carrier Modern Air's parent company GAC Corp to exit the West Berlin charter market in October 1974, Aeroamerica acquired that airline's West Berlin traffic rights.
On October 23, 1974, the day of the new terminal pre-inauguration at West Berlin's Tegel Airport, Aeroamerica stationed its first Boeing 720 at Tegel for crew familiarisation flights. This aircraft was painted in a basic Braniff colour scheme modified with a white Air Club International style cheatline and a black Berliner Flug Ring inscription by the main door. By March 1975, a further two Boeing 720s arrived at the airline's new Berlin Tegel base to fulfill a five-year charter contract the company had concluded with Berliner Flugring, at the time West Berlin's leading package tour operator, to undertake a series of short- and medium-haul inclusive tour (IT) charter flights to the Mediterranean and the Canary Islands from the start of the 1975 summer season. Aeroamerica had taken over this contract from Modern Air. The decision to supply whole-plane charter airline seats to West Berlin's foremost package tour operator enabled the airline to take advantage of the fact that all airlines other than those headquartered in the US, the UK and France - the airlines of the three Western victorious powers of World War II -- were banned from West Berlin.
By 1976, the size of the airline's Berlin-based fleet had doubled to six aircraft. These included four Boeing 720s as well as a Boeing 707-120B and a BAC One-Eleven 400. The latter had originally belonged to American Airlines. During the summer of 1976, the bulk of Aeroamerica's activities increasingly centred on Berlin Tegel, making it West Berlin's leading charter airline at the time.
On July 1, 1977, 96% of Aeroamerica's unionised German flight attendants voted in favour of strike action in a ballot held by the German Salaried Employees' Union.[nb 4] They demanded pay parity with their colleagues working for Pan Am's Internal German Services (IGS) division and employment contracts governed by local labour law to bring them in line with their unionised counterparts at other Allied airlines that employed their flight attendants locally.[nb 5] The company countered these demands by arguing that the nature of its business required flight attendants to be stationed anywhere, involving frequent postings to overseas stations at short notice to cover global ad hoc and lease commitments. It furthermore argued that adopting other Allied airlines' local employment conditions and pay for its own flight attendants would restrict operational flexibility and increase costs, that this would undermine its ability to compete globally and that the worldwide nature of its operations made all flight attendants' employment conditions subject to American labour law as well as CAB and FAA regulations to comply with US legal requirements. Initially, the airline was able to maintain its full flying programme at the beginning of the busy summer holiday period despite staff not showing up for work, following the first week of unsuccessful negotiations between Aeroamerica's local management and the DAG union. However, the conflict escalated during the second week when the local management dismissed without notice two flight attendants who had picketed a Tegel-bound flight in Brussels. As the conflict was still unresolved by the end of July and threatened to disrupt the holiday plans of thousands of West Berliners during the peak month of August, management attempted to break the flight attendants' strike by temporarily reducing the number of flight attendants from four to three per aircraft as well as by hiring contract labour from an unnamed UK airline.[nb 6] As these developments further aggravated the already tense standoff between the airline and its flight attendants' union, the latter sought to increase pressure on the company to settle the dispute by airing its members' grievances in public. It alleged that Aeroamerica's policy of only complying with minimum FAA requirements resulted in overworking flight attendants, putting lives of crew and passengers at risk in case of an emergency. Despite the negative publicity, management refused to return to the negotiating table and the strike eventually collapsed as the peak summer season drew to a close by the end of August. Following the end of the labour unrest at the company, the FAA subjected Aeroamerica to an unannounced safety audit later the same year. The airline's management alleged that the FAA's move had been prompted by a dismissed flight attendant's act of revenge.
The short-term wet- and subleases Aeroamerica had concluded with other airlines partially compensated for the loss of business at its Berlin base. Aeroamerica's wet-/sublease customers included Egyptair, K?br?s Türk Hava Yollar? (KTHY) -- the Northern Cyprus flag carrier, Laker Airways, Libyan Arab Airlines, Pakistan International Airlines and Saudia. For instance, the 1977 K?br?s wet lease, which ran for several years, entailed the stationing of a fully crewed Boeing 720 at Ercan to operate the Turkish carrier's scheduled route to Istanbul.
Aeroamerica acquired additional second-hand Boeing 720s and 707s during 1978 to enable it to exploit new business opportunities created by US airline deregulation. In August of that year, Aeroamerica commenced its first-ever fully fledged scheduled air service between Seattle-Tacoma and Spokane. The company's new scheduled passenger flights were an immediate success. The following year, the firm prepared to launch additional scheduled services linking Seattle-Tacoma and Portland, Oregon, with Honolulu.
The increasingly far-flung nature of the airline's operations overstretched its small fleet. This was compounded by the fleet's advanced age. The combination of these two factors resulted in growing reliability problems.
In January 1979, Berliner Flugring, Aeroamerica's main overseas business partner, announced that it would not be renewing the five-year contract it had signed with the airline in late 1974, citing reliability issues as the main reason for its decision.
Following its decision to exit the West Berlin charter market, Aeroamerica adopted a new strategy that sought to refocus the airline as a low-fare transatlantic scheduled operator, beginning with a weekly service linking Miami with Berlin via Brussels or Amsterdam from the start of the following year's summer season.
As a result of growing financial difficulties, Aeroamerica voluntarily surrendered its operating permit during an informal meeting with the FAA at the end of 1979. This action on the airline's part in turn resulted in legal action brought against it by an aircraft lessor and British Airways over unpaid bills concerning the former Berlin operation, as well as the seizure of one of the company's aircraft at Tegel Airport.
The CAB's subsequent decision to revoke the firm's exempt permit effectively grounded Aeroamerica, resulting in a filing under Chapter 11 of the US bankruptcy code on November 19, 1979 seeking protection from creditors while reorganising the business under the bankruptcy court's supervision.
On June 30, 1980, the FAA suspended Aeroamerica's AOC.
On August 19, 1980, the FAA agreed to restore Aeroamerica's AOC following a joint representation by the airline and its official creditors' committee. However, Aeroamerica's operations continued to be plagued by financial and maintenance issues.
Aeroamerica and its sister company Air Club International, which was formed in 1970 as Club International and had operated its first commercial flight across the Atlantic to Amsterdam with an ex-TWA Boeing 707 in 1971, claimed to be the world's largest operators of Boeing "executive aircraft".
There are no recorded accidents or incidents involving Aeroamerica aircraft.
|journal=(help) (various backdated issues relating to Aeroamerica, 1974-1982)