Defunct Airlines

by Kerwin McKenzie

Defunct Airlines (Non-Operational Airlines)


Note: This is a work in progress…


I’ve flown 179 airlines so far our of the over 5,000 airlines worldwide. Not all these 5,000 are still operational. You can find a list of the operational ones here.


Some of these 5,000+ airlines are actually no longer operating for various reasons. There are also some that I’ve not flown that were pretty famous but are no longer operating such as Braniff and the famous PanAm World Airways.


This is one reason why its important to get travel insurance when you travel like do. I can’t stress this more. Also, ensure you read the policy so you’re familiar with covered circumstances.


On the other hand there are airlines such as KLM (October 1919) who holds the record for being the oldest airline operating under the same name; it’s first flight was in 1920.


British Airways turns 100 on August 25, 2019 (British Airways took over other airlines that had started in 1919; the British Airways name came about in 1974). Aircraft Transport and Travel Limited (AT&T) which took their first flight on that August day is linked to British Airways.


Avianca will be 100 in December 2019; it merged with TACA in 2009.


Qantas is not too far behind as it was founded in November 1920.


It is also weird to fly a new airline that had the old code for an airline you flew. This happened when I flew Scoot based in Singapore whose code is TZ, that of ATA (American Trans Air). Scoot now has a new  ode; read below to see what it is.


So, let’s take a look at famous airlines that are no longer operating. And if I made any errors with the information, don’t be mean, just tell me and I’ll correct it :-).


Also, leave a comment and tell me your experience with any of these airlines and please share with your fellow avgeeks and help me to add more airlines that I’ve missed:


Air Berlin (AB)


Based in Berlin, Germany at the Tegel Airport, this airline flew in Europe and had international destinations such as Fort Myers, FL (RSW) and New York-JFK (JFK). It ceased operations in October 2017 and was absorbed by Eurowings (EW) which is a part of the Lufthansa Group.


Air Jamaica (JM)


Founded in 1968, Air Jamaica (JM) was based in Kingston, Jamaica, this is the first airline I ever flew. They ceased operation in 2015 and was folded into Trinidad and Tobago-based Caribbean Airlines (BW) who was actually called BWIA.





Based in Florida, this carrier folded in 1984 after starting in 1971.



AirTran Airways


Headquartered in Florida, this airline has an interesting history. In 1997, it was acquired by Valujet after Valujet crashed in the in the everglades in Florida. The Valujet name disappeared then. They had a major operation in Atlanta, GA (ATL) and fought fiercely with Delta Air Lines (DL) until Southwest Airlines (WN) gobbled them up in December 2014.



Aloha Airlines (AQ)


Started in 1946, closed in 2008. I’ve flown Aloha and loved it. They flew to cool places like Midway Islands. sadly never flew them to this island.


ATA (TZ) [American Trans Air)


Based in Indianapolis, IN in the U.S., this airline ceased operation in 1999. I actually worked for them from 1995 to 1996 in their Revenue Management Department. Loved it!

They were a charter/scheduled service outfit with flights to Florida, the Midwest and Hawaii as well as other focus cities around the U.S. They also had a travel program called Ambassadair which actually still exists although the airline is no longer around.

They flew Boeing 737s, 757s with 218 seats and the Lockheed L-1011s with 362 seats all in one class; Economy.

Their airline code has since been used by at last two airline. The current airline using the code is Tsaradia (TZ), a subsidiary of Air Madagascar, based in Antananarivo, Madagascar. And it was also used by Scoot, based in Singapore. Scoot was absorbed by Tigerair in Singapore, but still retains the Scoot brand and now has a new airline code, TR.



American West Airlines (HP)


America West was based in Tempe, Arizona. They took over US Airways in 2005 but relinquished the America West name. And in February 2012, US Airways merged with American Airlines and lost the US Airways name. Read more about the history at



Braniff International Airways


I never flew Braniff. Many of my airline friends have worked for it and love the brand.

They were based in Dallas, TX and went out of business in 1983 having started in 1928. At the end they had changed their name to Braniff International.

You can



Canadian Airlines


I remember flying their Boeing 747 cross Canada. Such an amazing flight. They started in 1987 and folded in 2001 when Air Canada took them over. They were based in Calgary, AB Canada.


Continental Airlines (CO)


This is the airline for which I worked the longest (1996 – 2011). They were based in Houston and merged with United Airlines (UA) in 2011.

They once had a slogan called “the bird with the golden tail” as gold was in the colors on the vertical tail of the airplane.

I have very fond memories of Continental. True story, when I was in college at Embry-Riddle doing my Masters, I wanted to get into the airlines, so I applied as a flight attendant when they had recruitment in Orlando. I did not get the job; I think it may have been that I left my jacket in the car when I went inside for the interview as it was so hot.

But nothing happens before its time and in 1996 I got hired in Distribution Planning in Houston.



Continental Micronesia (CS)


This is the Pacific subsidiary of Continental Airlines originally called Air Micronesia. They were based in Guam and served several pacific islands. I remember taking flights on their Boeing 727-200 that flew from Honolulu to Guam making six stops at the time. Today, only five stops are made and its flown with a Boeing 737-800 under the United brand.

They ceased operation in 2012 after opening its doors in 1968.



Eastern Airlines (EA)


I was in Miami, FL (MIA), where Eastern is based, heading to Jamaica and after we checked in, the agent said I’d not go to Jamaica this weekend if I were you as there’s rumors that Eastern is shutting down over the weekend and indeed they did in 1991 having started in 1926.

They had a marketing slogan called “The Wings of Man”

There’s been efforts to re-start this airline, but none worked.


Jet Airways (9W)


I’ve flown these guys, I think it was from India to Brussels, Belgium (BRU) as they used to use it as a base.Qatar Airways (QR) had a stake in them for a while but it dod not help keep them afloat at all and they folded just this year, 2019.


Kingfisher Airlines


I actually flew this airline from Mumbai (BOM) to London-Heathrow (LHR). Yes, they were named after the Kingfisher beer in India and part owned by the brewery. They were based in Mumbai, India and ceased operations in 2011.


Monarch Airlines


Based in the U.K. at Luton airport, they folded in 2017 and was found in 1968. I wanted to take them into Gibraltar (GIB), but was not able to make the price nor the schedules work.



National Airlines (NA)


New York Air


New York Air was based in Flushing, Ny at LaGuardia Airport. It only lasted 7 years ceasing operations in 1987 when it merged with Continental Airlines. It was started in 1980.


Northwest Airlines (NW)


This airline had a few names in its history, one of them was Northwest Orient as they had such a large presence in Asia. They merged with Delta in 2014 and Delta took hold of them in 2008. They were based in Eagan, Minneapolis, MN.



PanAmerican World Airways aka PanAm (PA)


This airline is perhaps the most famous defunct airline. And like Eastern, there’s been a few failed resurrections. I never flew the original PanAm, but flew one of the resurrected versions from Gary, IN USA (GYY) to Sanford, FL on a Boeing 727-200 before they folded.


The new Pan Am Boeing 727-200 with winglets from Gary, IN to Sanford, FL The new Pan Am Boeing 727-200 with winglets from Gary, IN to Sanford, FL


I have flown out of the Pan Am World Port at JFK a few times though, It’s now home to Delta. And the Pan Am building atop 42nd street now has another name, MetLife Building.




People Express



PeopleExpress started in 1981 and lasted until 1987. They were based in Newark, NJ and merged with Continental Airlines in 1987, and Continental later merged with United in 2011.


An effort to re-start the airline in 2014 was short lived.







Reno Air (QQ)


Guess where based? Reno, Nevada was acquired by American Airlines in 1999.


Sabena (SN)

Sabena based in Brussels, Belgium operated from 1923 to 2001. The code is still being used by the new airline, brussels airlines which was SN Brussels at one point.


Scoot (TZ now TR)


Although Scoot is still flying; I flew them in June of 2012 when they first started out, they’ve been acquired by Tigerair and now flies under the airline code TR.

True Story: When Scoot was first launched, I bought my ticket for June 26 as that was the announced inaugural flight date. They changed the launched date and would not change my ticket for me without a charge even though I asked. And my primary reason for flying them was to be in the inaugural flight Oh well.

Here’s a review of that flight.


Scoot (TZ) Boeing 777-200 Interior from Singapore (SIN) to Sydney, Australia (SYD) on June 26, 2017 Scoot (TZ) Boeing 777-200 Interior from Singapore (SIN) to Sydney, Australia (SYD) on June 26, 2017


Southeast Airlines


Tahoe Air




Trans World Airlines, another famous American iconic brand based in St. Louis, Missouri at the time it operated. I did fly them from JFK to Cairo in business class on their Boeing 767-300. A lovely flight in the lap of luxury at the time with a Continental colleague who was ex-TWA.

Nostalgia: TWA Terminal New York-JFK (JFK) - TWOne Business Class cabin on a Boeing 767-300 Nostalgia: TWA Terminal New York-JFK (JFK) – TWOne Business Class cabin on a Boeing 767-300 (N640TW)

TWA was absorbed by American Airlines (AA) in 2001. They were formed in 1930 under the name Transcontinental & Western Air.

Recently, the iconic TWA Terminal at JFK Terminal 5 was turned in the TWA Hotel.

Nostalgia: TWA Terminal New York-JFK (JFK) Nostalgia: TWA Terminal New York-JFK (JFK)


TWA Boeing 757-200 taxiing in John Wayne Airport (SNA) TWA Boeing 757-200 taxiing in John Wayne Airport (SNA)


US Airways


This airline that was taken over by America West was itself taken over by American Airlines in 2015.








Valujet was founded in 1993, had a major accident in the Florida Everglades in late 1996 and ceased operations in 1997 as it bought AirTran Airways and took its name. It flew DC-9s around the U.S. with headquarters in Georgia.




WowAir was based in Iceland. They operated to several U.S. cites as well as European cities. They folded in 2019 having started in 2011.


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