Monthly Airline History: Trans World Airways (TWA)


Ah yes, TWA…one of the most recognizable airlines in the world. Now apart of American Airlines, TWA was one of the many giants of the jet age that brought service like no other. They served all over the world, and up until 2001, were extremely successful. Let’s look at the history of this iconic carrier.

The beginning of an American giant:
TWA was founded in the summer of 1930, and was one of the many new airlines that started to appear throughout. TWA wasn’t very large, much like the other American carriers of today. They only had a handful of destinations, and were not fairly large in terms of fleet size. They operated the DC-1, 2, and 3, all of which are products of Douglas aircraft. They used these aircraft on many routes as they were just beginning. In the summer of 1931, TWA decided to move from NY to Kansas City, Missouri.

1950: The New TWA
In the 50s TWA saw the addition of new aircraft such as the Super Constellation. They received these after signing a contract with the Glenn L. Martin Company. On May 17 the airline rebranded to Trans World Airways, officials kicking off TWA’s legacy. In 1955, they introduced multiple class service across the world.
60s, 70s and 80s: The Jet Age and TWA’s prime
In the 60’s, TWA started to introduce new products never seen before by the public. Everything from In flight movies to new aircraft. The airline had started to revolutionize the airline industry over the course of many years. One of the biggest things they accomplished was the introduction of their iconic terminal at JFK. They created this as a result of their large fleet size, and to accommodate their soon to be 747 fleet. The terminal’s design was very modern at the time, and is still well liked by many today. Moving back to their fleet, TWA became one of the first U.S. carriers to operate an all jet fleet. This happened later on in 1967. The 1970s and 80s were some of TWA’s peak times, and they saw an increase in popularity. However, one of the biggest things to take place was the introduction of their Boeing 747. This was a huge change for the airline. In the 1980’s, they added the special 747SP to their fleet, and started to phase out older planes. For example, their 727s. TWA added the L-1011 Tristar and 767 later on. Even though TWA was prospering, they faced challenges. One of the biggest being the 1970s oil crisis, which saw a huge spike in some being the airline fuel prices. This wasn’t too hard on TWA as their fleet didn’t contain a ton of wide-bodies.
1990s and early 2000s: The fall of an American giant
The 1990s brought many issues upon TWA. They started to see a decline in their profit, and entered multiple bankruptcies. The airline wasn’t doing to well, and in 2000, were acquired by American Airlines. However, TWA still couldn’t manage. In December of 2001, TWA ceased operations. They were to merge with American Airlines. TWA was no more.
TWA in 2021
TWA may be long gone, but their legacy continues. Their terminal at JFK was recently turned into a hotel. Bringing guests an experience of what it was like to travel on TWA long ago. American Airlines has an aircraft painted in a livery dedicated to TWA, along with many other heritage aircraft. TWA will forever be remembered as one of the most recognizable airlines in history .


Photos do not belong to me, I will edit the post as soon as I find sources to the owners.

If this topic isn’t allowed, do tell me :) I don’t post in the RWA much, so I’m not 100% sure. Even after checking the guidelines. Also I haven’t made a topic like this before, so it may not be the best thing ever lol.


This is a very cool topic! Thanks for sharing.

And by the way, all RWA topics have to be moderator approved, so if it’s approved, then you’re good!


Thank you! Glad you like it!

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Really enjoyed reading this. Great topic!

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Thank you!

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