TOP AIR, A. O.: Yeni Hangartar Bolgesi, Ataturk Havalimani, Istanbul, TR-34630, Turkey; Phone 90 (2) 125 41 60 40; Fax 90 (2) 125 98 50 60; Http://www. topair. com. tr; Code B6; Year Founded 1990.
Top Air is established at Istanbul in 1990 to provide long-haul ad hoc passenger charters. It also engages in executive and air ambulance services, aircraft sales, maintenance, and flight training. Revenue flights commence with a fleet that comprises a Tupolev Tu-154M and a Cessna 650 Citation III bizjet. Destinations visited on a nonscheduled basis include Georgia, Albania, Israel, Germany, and the Netherlands.
Two Boeing 727-100s are acquired in the spring of 1996 and allow the company to begin twice-weekly scheduled roundtrips from Antalya and Dalaman to Tel Aviv and from Istanbul to London (STN). Scheduled and charter flights are also begun from Istanbul to Paris, Strasbourg, Lyon, Berlin, Dusseldorf, Hanover, Cologne, Frankfurt, Munich, Leipzig, Munster, and Rotterdam. Return service is also offered from Antalya and Dalaman to Billund in Denmark.
Many of the company’s European charters must be cut back or eliminated during the March-July 1999 Kosovo crisis. Once that disturbance is past, the company, which now also owns a B-727-200, is able to resume its services, adding new destinations at Split and Sarajevo.
As 2000 begins, the new company Web site draws attention back to Top Air’s air taxi division. Fast and reliable flights are available from Istanbul to Aksaabat, Kazan, Dubai, London, Odessa, Tehran, and Moscow, as well as to local points.
TOPAIR, LTD.: U Silnice 42, Ruzyne Airport Terminal South, Prague 6, CR-16100, Czech Republic; Phone 42 (2) 316-5554; Fax 42 (2) 316-6561; Code P9; Year Founded 1991. Topair is formed at Prague, capital of the former Czechoslovakia, in May 1991 to undertake scheduled Prague to Braunschweig corporate services under contract to Skoda Air. Principal owner Mikoslav Tutter is appointed director general and his initial fleet comprises a Beech Super King Air 200 and a Cessna C650 Citation III. Flights begin in September, many in support of a corporate contract with Skoda/Volkswagen for frequencies between Prague and Braunschweig.
A second Super King Air 200 and three Beech 1900Cs are leased in
1992 and the carrier begins feeder flights in March for UPS (United Parcel Service) between Prague and Nuremberg. Airline employment in
1993 stands at 38. One 1900C is returned in July as Topair takes delivery of the first Beech 1900D to be introduced into the Czech Republic.
The workforce is increased to 46 in 1994 and a Let L-410A is leased from Bemoair.
Flights continue in 1995-2000, during which years the fleet includes 2 each Beech 1900Cs, 2 Let L-200 Moravas, and 1 each Beech 1900D, L-410A, and Cessna 650 Citation III.
TOPFLIGHT AVIATION COMPANY, LTD.: United Kingdom (1976-1990). Topflight is established at Fairoaks Airport (Surrey) as Air Oxford, Ltd. in 1976 to undertake charter and contract service flights to local destinations in southern and eastern England.
These operations continue for the next decade with a fleet comprising 2 de Havilland DH 114 Herons, 2 Piper PA-31-350 Navajo Chieftains, 1 Hawker Siddeley HS 125, and 1 Piper PA-23 Aztec. In 1986-1987, Managing Director Howard Rose’s company adds another Heron and two Partenavia P-68s. Operations cease in 1990.
TORAIR, A. B.: Sweden (1964-1966). With the two Douglas DC-3s of his Loadair, A. B. charter operation about to be repossessed and his company declared bankrupt, Gote Rosen promptly re-registers it as Torair (after Thor, the Nordic thunder god) at Stockholm. Although he cannot save one Douglas from attachment, he is able to spirit the other out of Bromma Airport to Goteborg on August 6, 1964. There he is able to convince the plane’s owner to back a resumption of service under the new name.
Still able to employ Loadair’s permit while awaiting the issuance of a new certificate, Rosen is able to complete his previous commitments. The new permit allows only cargo work and fortunately, two significant contracts are received. As a result, a second DC-3 is chartered.
Three nights every week in the fall, live chicks are flown from Bil-lund in Denmark to destinations around the U. K. Twice-weekly deliveries of cut flowers from Copenhagen to Helsinki are also ordered.
The flower deliveries continue through the winter. One night in February 1965, a DC-3 strays off course and comes within 10 miles of the Soviet Union’s Baltic coast. The aircraft is chased back by a Red Air Force MIG 21.
During the spring, the company’s certificate is amended to allow public passenger charters. Consequently, three stewardesses, chosen by the pilots for their beauty and including the two Britt sisters Anna and Anita, are hired. Business prospers during the summer and fall. Late in the year, owner Rosen enters into a feeder arrangement with Transair Sweden, A. B.
As a result of the agreement with the older company, Torair begins to expand in early 1966. Three passenger-appointed Curtiss C-46 Commandos are acquired and additional flight and technical personnel are hired. This rapid upgrade is a mistake. Unable to maintain financial viability, the company shuts its doors in September.
TORONTAIR, LTD.: Canada (1979-1986). The charter carrier Toronto Airways, Ltd. establishes this commuter subsidiary at Toronto Buttonville Airport in Markham, Ontario, in February 1979. Employing Beech 99s, the new entrant launches revenue flights on April 30 over a multistop route from Toronto to Elliot Lake.
During 1981-1982, frequencies are extended to Brockville, Kingston, Ottawa, and Trenton. The fleet is increased to comprise 3 Beech 99s, 1 de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter, and 2 Piper PA-31-350 Navajo Chieftains. The company now receives admission to Air Canada, Ltd.’s Reservac II computerized reservations system at Toronto. Boardings for the two years are, respectively, 17,000 and 26,000.
Toronto to Syracuse, New York, flights begin in 1983. In October 1984, service is initiated from Toronto to Canadian Forces Base Trenton, Ottawa, and Kingston. Frequencies on these routes are increased to five per day by April 1985. Financial difficulties now ensue. The DHC-6 is sold in December and replaced by another Beech 99.
Headquarters are moved to Toronto in February 1986 in order to undertake a planned new operation with Nordair, Ltd. for which a Fairchild Hiller FH-227B is leased. When the Nordair prospect falls thorough in May, the carrier finds itself so far overextended that it must shut its doors in June. Following bankruptcy, the remaining assets, routes, etc. are purchased by Austin Airways, Ltd.
TORONTO AIRWAYS, LTD. See TORONTAIR, LTD.
TOROSAIR, A. O.: Turkey (1988-1990). This charter operator is established at Ankara in the summer of 1988 to offer inclusive tour and other passenger charter flights to destinations in southern Europe and the Mediterranean. The first aircraft, a leased Boeing 727-51 formerly operated by Suncoast Airlines, arrives in August; christened Burcu, it allows the company to begin revenue services in October.
Operations continue apace in 1989 and by 1990 the fleet includes not only the Burcu, but three more chartered tri-motors as well: a B-727-77, B-727-81, and B-727-247. Following Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait on August 2, the company’s routes dry up and it is forced out of business.
TORRES AIR (PTY.), LTD.: Australia (1990-1991). This small commuter is established in late 1990 to offer services linking the towns on the islands in the Torres Strait, which is located between Australia and Papua New Guinea. Revenue flights begin with 1 each Pilatus-Britten-Norman PBN-2 Islander and Cessna 402. Unable to achieve either traffic or economic viability, Torres Air closes its doors before its first birthday.
TOTAL AEROTAXI, S. A. See TLA (TOTAL LINHAS AEREAS, S. A.)
TOTAL AIR. See AIR AMERICA (1)
TOTAL LINHAS AEREAS, S. A. See TLA (TOTAL LINHAS AEREAS, S. A.)
TOURAINE AIR TRANSPORT, S. A. See TAT (TOURAINE AIR TRANSP0RT, S. A.)
TOURIST AIR TRAVEL, LTD. See MOUNT COOK AIR SERVICES, LTD.; MOUNT COOK AIRLINES, LTD.
TOURLITE INTERNATIONAL AIRLINES. See ARISTA INTER-NATIONALAIRLINES
TOWER AIR: Hangar 8, Second Floor, John F. Kennedy International Airport, Jamaica, New York 11430, United States; Phone (718) 553-4300; Fax (718) 553-4312; Http://www. towerair. com; lATA Code FF; Year Founded 1982. A package tour operator, Tower Air is formed at John F. Kennedy International Airport in August 1982 to offer services from New York City to Israel and Belgium via the scheduled flights of Metro International Airways, a division of The Flying Tiger Line. The financial arrangement between the two concerns is based on profit-sharing, with the price per aircraft tied to the number of seats sold. The joint-enterprise is formally launched in November.
By spring 1983, Tower has become the sales arm of Metro and with load factors approaching 98%, both partners make money. In the fall, Flying Tiger officials elect to close out their passenger airline operation.
Led by Tower Chairman/CEO Morris K. Nachtomi, a group of former El Al Israel Airlines, Ltd. partners, including Samuel Fondiler, Zev Melamid, and Mordechai Gil, purchase the Metro division, planning to continue the New York to Israel link. Melamid becomes president, with Gil as chief financial officer.
A Boeing 747-127 is chartered for five years from the wreckage of Braniff International Airways and is sent off to World Airways for a
$1.7-million refurbishment and reconfiguration, which will give it 16 business - and 469 coach-class seats. A maintenance support contract is negotiated with Pan American World Airways (1).
On November 1, Tower receives authorization from the CAB to inaugurate its own services and on November 3 it steps in to replace Metro on the latter’s New York-Brussels-Tel Aviv route.
Retaining their positions on the board of directors, Melamid and Gil resign their management posts during the first quarter of 1984 and are succeeded by Fondiler and new Chief Financial Officer Herbert Hey-man. At the end of April, company headquarters are transferred from lower Park Avenue in New York City to United Airlines’ Hangar 8 at New York (JFK).
Leasing a former Continental Airlines B-747-124 christened Rena on May 31, Tower Air continues its scheduled service to Belgium and Israel, transporting 251,000 passengers to those two nations during the remainder of the year. Following a $2-million refurbishment, a B-747-259B, first flown by AVIANCA (Aerovias Nacionales de Colombia, S. A.), is chartered in July.
A scheduled six-days-per-week, low-fare, coach-class New York to Los Angeles service is introduced during November in competition with PEOPLExpress.
Financially speaking, the year is very costly as losses of $972,523 (operating) and $799,985 (net) are suffered.
Airline employment grows 5.8% in 1985 to 276 as the Rena is purchased. Early in the spring, company officials announce plans to offer charter flights to points in Germany, Italy, Greece, Switzerland, and France during the summer. Simultaneously, the low-cost New York to Los Angeles scheduled service is discontinued when it is found that the company cannot out-attract PEOPLExpress, even with the addition of a third Jumbojet in December, the Suzie, which had formerly flown for Deutsche Lufthansa, A. G.
Customer bookings accelerate 23.5% to 285,078 and revenues climb 31.2% to $77 million. With costs held down, the carrier is able to generate an operating profit of $2 million and net gain of $1.6 million.
The payroll is increased again in 1986, up 16.7% to 322. Due to a change in service patterns, the total number of revenue passenger miles flown declines by 8.4%; however, passenger boardings climb 5.7% to 301,439.
Once flown by Trans World Airlines (TWA), a leased B-747-131 is delivered on April 21, 1987; it is followed by a chartered, onetime Pan American World Airways (1) B-747-121 on May 10.
A B-747-100 en route for Israel on September 1 blows two tires as it takes off from New York, but makes a successful emergency landing after circling the airport for two hours. Both of the Jumbojets borrowed in the spring are returned in October.
Customer bookings accelerate 57.2% on the year to 473,753 and revenues advance to $138 million, pushing the airline from the ranks of the large regionals to national status. The operating profit is $8.98 million while net gain totals $2.6 million.
The workforce increases 51.6% in 1988 to 488. Unfortunately, the company’s first year as a national is marked by a 3.1% decline in passenger boardings to 459,057. Profits are generated: $10.83 million (operating) and $3.44 million (net).
Twelve new employees are hired in 1989 and the fleet now includes 1 each B-747-121, B-747-124, B-747-127, and B-747-130.
Customer bookings dip another 3.8% to 454,000. Revenues ascend 6.48% to $141.43 million, expenses rise 7.54% to $131.2 million, and the operating profit falls slightly to $10.23 million. Net gain also declines, to $3.40 million.
Airline employment falls by 7.8% in 1990 to 473. During the year, new livery is applied to the company’s four B-747-100s, including one that is newly acquired. The company now owns the largest share held by a U. S. carrier in the New York-Israel direct trade.
Passenger boardings inch upward by 0.1% to 453,793 and revenues jump up by 21.81% to $172.28 million. Costs leap 22.03% to $160.11 million and allow operating income to move ahead to $9.1 million. Net profit almost doubles to $5.61 million.
The payroll grows by 10.5% in 1991 to 524. The fleet is enlarged by the addition of two more B-747-100s. During the Gulf War in January and February, Tower is the only airline, other than El Al Israel Airlines, Ltd. , to maintain scheduled services to Tel Aviv. Following the conflict, the Israeli Minister of Transport presents Chairman/CEO Nachtomi with a letter and plaque of commendation.
Indeed, with a total of 300, the carrier is in second place behind American Trans Air in the number of missions flown in support of the deployment of American troops to and from Saudi Arabia. In May, scheduled flights begin to Paris and Scandinavia. Hadj flights to Mecca are also resumed on behalf of other carriers.
The year’s enplanements are up 4.7% to 548,573 and revenues increase 42.69% to $245.81 million. Expenses grow only 41.3% to $226.82 million and guarantee operating income of $18.98 million. Net gain inches up to $6.96 million.
Company employment increases 62.2% in 1992 to 850 and the fleet now includes 7 B-747-100s and 3 B-747-100Fs. Scheduled flights are initiated on May 1 from Miami to Cologne via Copenhagen. Scheduled services to Berlin begin in November. Regularly scheduled flights are maintained from New York to Paris, Los Angeles, San Juan, and Miami and from Miami to Berlin and Cologne.
Nonscheduled passenger frequencies are undertaken to Athens, Buenos Aires, Milan, Rome, and Sao Paulo, while all-cargo flights are flown to Taipei, Hong Kong, and other Pacific destinations.
Passenger boardings jump 18.7% to 661,000. Revenues total $210.89 million and costs are held low enough to allow an operating profit of $9.03 million and net gain of $1.2 million.
In 1993, Chairman/CEO Nachtomi oversees a workforce of 757, down 10.9% from the previous year, and operates a fleet of 7 B-747-200s, 8 B-747-100s, and 3 B-747Fs. Scheduled passenger service is inaugurated to Brazil while scheduled all-cargo flights begin to Hong Kong.
On August 2, Tower is one of seven carriers to win an Air Force contract to provide long and short range international airlift services under the Civil Reserve Air Fleet program; the pact is valued at $19 million.
The airline becomes a public corporation in November. During the month, the company opens a new terminal at New York (JFK). Located adjacent to its maintenance hangar on the approach road to the main complex, it is the only terminal at the airport not shared with another carrier.
Customer bookings leap upward by 34.4% to 953,874 while cargo skyrockets 140% to 104.89 million FTKs. Revenues ascend 38.3% to $341.83 million, expenses accelerate “only” 33.3% to $317.35 million, and operating income balloons to $24.47 million. Net profit increases ninefold to $9.93 million.
Airline employment is increased 18.9% in 1994 to 900. During the spring, scheduled flights are initiated to New Delhi, Dublin, Shannon, and Amsterdam. Hadj business is off, but, on June 18, weekly scheduled roundtrips are started between New York and Orlando. Company
Jumbojets, as well as ticket counters in Israel are given prominent display in the Chuck Norris action film Hellbound.
In October and early November, unknown saboteurs—possibly former employees—cut wires on five different Jumbojets on the ground at New York (JFK), disabling their monitoring systems. The media reports in December that the FBI has been called into the case, which the airline prefers to call vandalism instead of terrorism.
Passenger boardings surge 35.4% to 1,282,000 and freight skyrockets 105.8% to $244.82 million. Revenues increase 7.6% to $367.98 million and expenses grow 14.4% to $363.19 million. The rise in costs brings a decline in pretax profit to $4.79 million and a plunge in net gain to $568,000.
The workforce stands at 1,842 in 1995, a 34.7% increase. On February 23, a company Jumbojet flies the last 450 Pakistani UN peacekeepers home to Karachi from Mogadishu, Somalia. Also in February, the company charters a B-747-212B from ILFC for four years; it also receives a second B-747-212B from ILFC, which has leased the Jumbojet to Tower on behalf of a Swedish financial institution.
Hadj business is also down again this year. Josefina M. Essex succeeds
C. V. Meserole III as vice president-finance on December 1 while the chairman’s son, Guy A. Nachtomi, becomes vice president-operations.
A major snowstorm begins in the New York area on December 20 and contributes to a near disaster at New York (JFK) involving a company B-747. Flight 41, a B-747-136 with 17 crew and 451 passengers, experiences control difficulty during its takeoff roll; after the pilot aborts, the plane skids along icy Runway 4L and off its left side, hitting an electric conduit building that shears off its No. 4 engine. The nosegear and right main landing gear collapse and the plane halts 600-ft. out. A total of 25 passengers aboard are injured (1 seriously) and as the weather deteriorates, the airport is shut down for several hours.
Enplanements surge 24.2% to 1,570,244; however, cargo plunges 64.8% to 80.8 million FTKs. Operating income advances 33.3% to $490.47 million as costs move up 31.3% to $476.95 million. The operating profit quadruples to $13.51 million and a $10.68-million net profit is posted.
Airline employment stands at 1,400 in 1996, a 24% decline. A certain amount of embarrassment is suffered on January 29 when a dog escapes from its cage while being unloaded from a freighter at New York (JFK) and must be chased for some time before its recapture. Scheduled service to India via Amsterdam is suspended in March. Four Jumbojets are leased to Garuda Indonesia and three to Air India, Ltd. for the transport of Muslim pilgrims on Hadj from Indonesia and India to Mecca.
Former Alaska Airlines Chairman/CEO Raymond J. Vecci is named executive vice president/chief operating officer on September 1. Prior to the suspension of its New York to Tel Aviv service on September 3, World Airways contracts with the carrier to honor those passengers holding tickets valid beyond the end-of-service date. Also during the month, a B-747-136 is leased to Hollywood; repainted to resemble the U. S. government’s VC-25A, it is employed at Hollywood in the shooting of the Harrison Ford adventure Air Force One.
The year is not successful as the number of military charters flown declines, along with civilian passenger traffic to and from Israel. Domestic traffic falls off and maintenance problems keep one of the Jumbojet freighters out of service. Chief Operating Officer Vecci departs the company in December to accept a similar post with Carnival Air Lines.
Passenger boardings drop 3.5% to 1,519,000 and cargo plunges 45.5% to 39.35 million FTKs. Revenue falls off 14.8% to $417.8 million and expenses total $441.3 million. The previous year’s profits are, unhappily, converted into losses: $23.5 million (operating) and $20.9 million (net).
The employee population is increased by 32.5% in 1997 to 1,855. At the beginning of the year, the company visits Amsterdam, Athens, Berlin, Bombay, Buenos Aires, Hong Kong, Los Angeles, Milan, Miami, New York, Paris, Rome, Sao Paulo, San Juan, Taipei, and Tel Aviv. During the spring, flights to Brazil cease. At the same time, a total of nine Jumbojets are subleased to three carriers for Hadj flights: three to
Air India, Ltd., four to Garuda Indonesia, and two to Saudi Arabian Airlines. A leaking fuel-tank check valve that is (initially) not repaired and flown on a Jumbojet roundtrips from New York and Tel Aviv between April 14 and May 2 will become the subject of a proposed FAA fine in February 1998.
Aviation officials in Israel during the second week of June agree to allow Tower to begin new roundtrips from New York to Tel Aviv during the summer. In return, the U. S. DOT grants El Al Israel Airlines, Ltd. permission to operate up to eight monthly roundtrips from Tel Aviv to Baltimore (BWI).
The beginning of the takeoff roll of a company B-747-212B is depicted toward the climax of the Jim Carry comedy movie Liar, Liar, released by Universal Pictures.
Having lost significant business in the wake of the Valujet Airlines and Trans World Airlines (TWA) disasters the previous year, Tower, on August 1, launches a new advertising campaign. The media effort seeks to reassure travelers about the company’s safety by stressing that it is large enough to perform its own aircraft maintenance.
Countering statistics from the Israeli Airport Authorities that reflect a sharp decline in the number of Americans traveling to and from Israel during July and August, Tower Air experiences a 34.9% increase and emerges as the summer’s No. 1 foreign carrier in Israel.
On September 4, B-747-238B scheduled nonstop roundtrip service begins on Thursdays and Sundays from New York (JFK) to Las Vegas. The flight is welcomed at McCarran International Airport by a group of heavily plumed showgirls. Tickets on the inaugural flight cost just $25.
A collision between a company B-727-212B landing at JFK on September 27 and a British Airways, Ltd. (2) B-777-236 taking off is narrowly avoided; the two wide-bodies have 200 ft. of vertical separation and 1.3 mi. of lateral separation.
Passenger boardings jump 10.1% to 1,673,000, while freight skyrockets an almost unbelievable 282.7% to 150.59 million FTKs. Operating revenues climb 10.1% to $461.5 million, while expenses move ahead 2.9% to $454.04 million. The previous year’s large operating loss is turned into a $7.45-million profit, while the net loss is improved to $3.89 million.
On January 14, 1998, former USAirways Shuttle President Terry V. Hallcom is named president/chief operating officer; he also takes over as both vice president-operations, as Guy A. Nachtomi enrolls at Stanford University, and as chief financial officer as Ramesh Punwani departs and becomes a member of the board.
The number of weekly New York to Las Vegas flights is doubled to four on February 2.
On March 19, two Tower Air B-747-121Fs are wet-leased by Fast Air Chile (Fast Air Carrier, S. A.) for a year under a $22.86-million contract that is extendable by mutual agreement. The contract will continue even after Fast Air is merged into LADECO Chilean Airlines, S. A.
During the first quarter, the company elects to train nonunion, foreign national translators, originally hired to complement the crew of 14 unionized professional flight attendants on services in Saudi Arabia, as flight attendants. On April 1, AFA expresses its displeasure at Tower’s plans to replace 50 of the 180 U. S. flight attendants based at Jeddah with these new local hires.
On April 8, CEO Nachtomi announces that, under terms of the new U. S.-France bilateral agreement, Tower will operate up to four weekly flights between Paris and Tel Aviv beginning in June. Future flights from Paris to Cairo may commence in the year 2000.
Flight 37, a Jumbojet en route to New York from Paris on April 18, encounters severe turbulence over the Atlantic Ocean approximately a half hour out from its destination. One passenger is critically injured and 28 others receive cuts and bruises; upon landing, all are taken to Jamaica Hospital Medical Center.
Former Amana Tool Corporation and Trump Shuttle Chief Financial Officer Nathan Nelson becomes Tower’s chief financial officer on May 14. The company’s 250 pilots vote, in June to end their affiliation with the Tower Air Cockpit Crew Association and begin representation by ALPA.
Twice-daily "B-lAl services commence on June 26 between New York (JFK) and Miami. Under authority granted at the end of April, the company now initiates four weekly fifth-freedom return combi services beyond Paris to and from Tel Aviv and Cairo.
On July 7, Terry Hallcom, president/executive vice president-operations/board member, resigns to move to Eastwind Airlines; Chairman/CEO Nachtomi takes over his duties.
Under the direction of Thomas Shinar, a new West Coast office is opened at Los Angeles (LAX) on October 9. The office is responsible for servicing 13 states west of the Rocky Mountains. A B-7A7-200F joins the fleet on November 2.
On December 1, a 3-747-2593 receives fire damage to its right wing during refueling at Miami (MIA). There are no injuries among the four-person flight crew or the refueler on the ground, but the aircraft must be taken out of service for repairs.
On December 11, a $20-million contract is signed with Air India, Ltd. to provide four 3-7A7s, under wet lease, to transport religious pilgrims during the Hadj for the years 1999-2001.
During the 12 months, customer bookings climb 21.6% to 1.59 million, while cargo traffic is unreported. Revenues improve by A.8% to $A83.8 million and allow the operating profit to skyrocket 129.8% to $17.1 million. The previous year’s net loss is turned into a $1.5-million net gain.
Pending the completion of a survey into its on-site operations by the DOD Commercial Airlift Review Board, Tower, on January 28, 1999, agrees to suspend its military charters, which now account for 13.6% of its income. Once the survey is finished, the DOD will decide whether to allow Tower to continue in its program.
The carrier’s audit is successfully concluded on February 12 and it is granted DOT authority to offer scheduled return service between New York (JFK) and Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic beginning on March 5. The first service, undertaken on an ad hoc charter basis, actually begins two days later to assist passengers inconvenienced by the American Airlines job action, which is just now winding down.
Tower, which has been providing Jumbojets for Hadj flights since 1992, begins the 1999 service in the middle of February and continues through the end of April.
Meanwhile, on March 30, Aviation Daily reports that Tower, for the second year in a row, is the fifth busiest airline operating out of New York (JFK).
Meanwhile, on April 20, a federal arbitrator orders the airline to pay its flight attendants back pay plus 9% interest within the next 30 days. The airline had repeatedly failed to meet its flight attendant payroll over a period of two years and was called on the matter by the local chapter of AFA.
The president of the local chapter, Jason Weber, is fired by Tower Air on April 21, allegedly for refusing to report for a second flight after completing a first. Four female colleagues join Weber in his stand, including one who is pregnant. The AFA immediately seeks arbitration in his case.
While en route from New York (JFK) to Puerto Rico on April 22, Flight 51, a fully loaded B-7A7-200, is forced to divert to Bermuda when two drunken male passengers become involved in a fight after a passenger attempts to halt one of them from harassing a flight attendant. The Puerto Rican suspects are taken to the airport police station after the safe emergency landing.
As a result of an April pledge by the U. S. to take up to 20,000 refugees homeless in the Kosovo fighting, Tower is contracted by the International Organization for Migration to provide lift in a four-to-six week program set to start at the beginning of May. The contract is valued in excess of $10 million. The original plan had been to move the people to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, but the scheme is now refined to match refugees up as far as possible with Albanian-American relatives or sponsors.
In response to an urgent request from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees on May 1, the U. S. quickly puts into operation its plan to airlift up to 20,000 Kosovo Albanian refugees and provide them with temporary housing for three to six months. The same sorts of appeals have been made to Britain and Canada and U. S. Immigration officials are already working in Macedonia identifying potential transfers, who will join relatives and friends.
The first of A0 scheduled Kosovo refugee flights, a B-7A7-212B with 17 crew, departs New York (JFK) for Skopje, Macedonia, on May A. The Jumbojet, after boarding A53 passengers, returns to McGuire AFB, New Jersey, late on May 5, where it is met by first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton and New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman. After a processing period at nearby Fort Dix, the newcomers will be allowed to travel to the homes of U. S. family or friends.
Early on the morning of May 6, Tower flight attendants, joined by colleagues from other carriers, stage a rally in support of dismissed flight attendant Weber. Rallies have been held outside the company’s offices almost every week since the controversial firing and dampen many good vibrations generated by the Kosovo airlift.
The second Jumbojet, piloted by Capt. Joe Rudder with 1A crew members, departs for Macedonia on May 6 and returns with A07 ethnic Albanians on May 7. A total of 102 arrive at New York on May 8. The airlift continues, with A22 displaced persons arriving at McGuire AFB on May 11. The total jumps to 1,379 on May 12 and 1,861 the next day.
Employing a B-7A7-130, Tower launches weekly roundtrips on May 1A from New York (JFK) to Guayana via Trinidad. On May 15-16, four Jumbojets are chartered by over 2,000 Jewish voters wishing to return to Israel to cast ballots in the May 17 general election.
By May 18, 2,90A Kosovo refugees have arrived in New Jersey; they are followed by A6A on May 20 and A83 on May 22.
To coincide with the company’s annual stockholders meeting, pilots perform informational picketing around the company’s New York (JFK) headquarters on May 26. The flyers have been in negotiations for a new contract since 1996.
At the same time, the shareholders are also met by very unhappy flight attendants, who are protesting the firing of Jason Weber, Tower’s treatment of Israeli workers, and its introduction of mandatory overtime. AFA notes that one-sixth of all Tower flight attendants have quit in the last seven months, many because of chronically late and inaccurate paychecks and nonpayment of medical claims under the company’s selffunded insurance plan.
An independent arbitrator, agreed to by both sides, upholds Tower’s special circumstances scheduling right on June 16, but also rules that flight attendant Weber be reinstated with a two-month salary loss.
Another 365 Kosovo refugees come over on May 27. Less than half of the original 20,000 displaced persons will arrive before the military phase of the Kosovo campaign ends in mid-June.
Weekly nonstop roundtrip Jumbojet flights commence on June 19 between New York (JFK) and Port of Spain, Trinidad.
The frequency of the Guayana service is increased to twice weekly from July 2 to September 18. The next day, the Port of Spain service grows to twice weekly as well.
Passenger boardings increase 7.A% to 1,915,000, while cargo traffic skyrockets a remarkable 440.6% to 130.81 million FTKs. Revenues drop 55.1% to $217.03 million, while expenses are down 53.9% to $214.91 million. The operating profit falls to $2.11 million, while the previous year’s net profit becomes a net loss of $4.61 million.
Airline employment at the beginning of 2000 stands at 1,265, a 20.1% decrease over the previous 12 months. The company remains famous as one of the largest remaining operators of Dash-100 Jumbojets; the B-7A7 fleet includes 1 each Dash-124, Dash-130, Dash-131, Dash-136, and two Dash-121s, plus two each Dash-282Bs and Dash-212Bs, and one each Dash-2F6B and Dash-283B.
In January, Tower and FotoTag successfully complete FAA-observed operational tests of FotoTag’s radio frequency identified (RFID) baggage tags. The system had been installed at New York (JFK) and employed on Tower scheduled flights to Miami, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Tel Aviv, and Paris (CDG).
Tower, which has become somewhat infamous among travelers for the level of its passenger service, now faces at least two Internet forum sites specifically established to share complaints.
At the beginning of February, Tower announces that it is laying off 300 employees, 18.5% of its workforce, as part of a strategic restructuring plan. The airline will also return the now-surplus B-747-2F6B to its lessor, GECAS.
For the Hadj season that begins on February 7, Air Asia Sdn. Bhd. wet-leases three Boeing 747-382Bs while Air India, Ltd. takes three B-747-212Bs. The aircraft will transport 65,000 people to and from Mecca and earn Tower revenues of the $28 million.
Unfortunately, the new income is insufficient to prevent the company from entering into voluntary Chapter XI bankruptcy protection on February 29, filing as it does a petition for relief with the U. S. Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington, Delaware. To facilitate the airline’s continued operation while it reorganizes and seeks additional financing, Chairman Nachtomi secures an $ 18-million debtor-in-possession loan from the airline’s existing secured lender, GMAC Business Credit, LLC.
At the beginning of March, officials from El Al Israel Airlines, Ltd. meet with Tower executives to discuss ways in which the Israeli carrier, through cooperation or investment, can help the financially distressed U. S. carrier. No decisions are immediately taken, but Tower now stops providing refunds for tickets purchased before February 29 or for lost or damaged baggage or cargo. At the end of the month, the FAA issues an advisory noting that Tower has cancelled certain flights and that other airlines are not required to either honor Tower fares or accept its tickets.
Scheduled frequencies to Fort Lauderdale and San Francisco end on March 17. The B-747-238B is returned it lessor in April.
Tower suddenly stops all scheduled service on May 1. Indeed, the final service from New York (JFK) to Tel Aviv is pulled so abruptly that 300 passengers are left stranded. Indeed, many are forced to spend the night sleeping in their airport departure terminal. Most carriers refuse to accept Towers tickets; however, Trans World Airlines (TWA) removes a number of restrictions, thereby making deep discount fares available.
Military and other charter work is continued. On behalf of New Age Air Service, passenger charters begin on June 17—and will continue through March 1 — from New York (JFK) to Trinidad and Tobago.
The B-737-136 is returned to its lessor on August 15. Little more is heard from this operator as the year finishes. Overall customer bookings in these 12 months plunge 86.32% to 262,000, while freight traffic is worse, down 99.08% to 1.2 million FTKs.
TOWNSVILLE AND COUNTRY AIRWAYS (PTY.), LTD. (T&CA): Australia (1948-1953). T&CA is founded at Townsville, Queensland, in early 1948. With Douglas DC-3s leased from ANA (Australian National Airlines [Pty.], Ltd.), the new entrant begins service to Mount Isa on March 1. Despite significant competition from Trans-Australian Airlines (Pty.), Ltd., the route is maintained in 1949-1952; however, traffic and financial returns fall off in 1953, leading to a cessation of operations on November 27.
TOZAI TEIKI KOKU-KAI (TTKK) (EAST AND WEST SCHEDULED AIR TRANSPORT SOCIETY): Japan (1923-1929). With support from the newspaper Asahi Shimbun and leadership from the flying schools founded by Otojiro Itoh and Einosuke Shirato, TTKK is established at Tachigawa Airport (near Tokyo) on January 11, 1923. Employing a Nakajima V, the new airline inaugurates airmail service in July from Tokyo to Osaka via Hamamatsu.
Executives of the newspaper assume the carrier’s management in August 1924 and begins to offer willing passengers free accommodation on its aerial mail service. During the fourth quarter, the national government provides the airline with an operator’s certificate.
Free flights on the company’s eight Nakajimas are now replaced with a one-way ? 35 fare. It is reported in March 1925 that 384 flights have been completed since start-up. The Great Earthquake strikes Tokyo in September, interrupting operations.
When business is resumed in 1926, a new route is authorized, north from Tokyo to Sendai; it is not immediately operated. Mail and passenger flights over the original route continue, however, and in the spring of 1927 three Dornier Komets, built in Japan under license by Kawasaki, are acquired. These launch passenger-only service between Tokyo and Osaka on August 27.
Flights continue without significant additional change until late 1929 when the company is purchased by and merged into Japan Air Lines Company, Ltd. (1).