Rise and Fall of Braniff International Airways


Posted By: Admin 27 Feb, 2020

Braniff International Airways was an airline in America, which was famous for its innovative and forward-thinking. This iconic American airline was founded in the year 1928 and commenced operations from 1930. Unfortunately, in 1982 the Airline went bankrupt due to may reasons. So, in this blog, we will talk about the history of this iconic Airline and will know why the company went bankrupt.

The Airline began various trends in the aviation industry, many of which are still being used today.

Running from 1930 to 1982, Braniff served routes throughout the southwestern and middle and portions of the United States, as well as Asia, Europe, South America, and Panama. Let’s talk about the history of Braniff Airways.

The Airline was started by two brothers Thomas E. Braniff and Paul Revere Braniff. Thomas was a financial executive and insurance salesman who teamed-up with his brother to start the Airline. When started, the Airline was known as Tulsa–Oklahoma City Airways, as they provided flight service across Oklahoma.

Ultimately, the ownership of the Airline was passed to Universal Aviation Corporation in 1929 and started working as Braniff Air Lines, Inc. After some time in 1930, the company was bought by AVCO (Aviation Corporation.)

Braniff Airways

In 1930, the Braniff brothers duo began a new airline named Braniff Airways, Inc. The Airline slowly expanded through the Midwest. In 1935, the Braniff brothers won the bid to get the Chicago – Dallas airmail route, and Braniff Airways became the first airline to fly from Chicago to the United States Mexican border.

Later that year, Paul left the company, and Tom Braniff stayed to control the company. Tom hired Charles “Chuck” Beard to carry-on the everyday responsibilities of managing a flourishing airline. Later in 1954, Beared was named the President And Chief Executive Officer of the company.

As the Airline grew, many smaller airlines were absorbed by Braniff. New aircraft like Douglas DC–2s and Douglas DC–3s were also included in the fleet. After that, Braniff never looked back; the Airline leased aircraft to the military in the second world war and provided help while piolet training in Dallas. In the 1940s, the company started serving routes in Central and Sout America as well as the Caribbean.

International Expansion

In the 1950s, Braniff started to expand internationally. Braniff bought Midcontinent airlines, which included various cities in their primary North-South system. In 1957, the company named a building near the Dallas Love Filed as the headquarter of the company. However, in 1978, the headquarter was shifted to Braniff Place.

1954 was not at all a good year for the Airline. Tom Braniff died in a flying boat crash and later Paul Braniff also died due to cancer. After Tom’s death, Beared was named as the President of Braniff, who was the first non-Braniff to hold the President’s title of the company. Beared initiated to steer the company towards the modern age; he changed over almost the entire fleet of the Airline to Jets by 1965.

Great America Corporation

In 1965, The Great America Corporation bought Braniff Airways. Ed Acker, who was the CFO of Great America Corp., claimed that the management of Braniff was poor, and he stepped into the company as the CFO and Executive VP.

Also, in 1965, the company hired Harding L. Lawrence, who was the Executive Vice President of Continental Airlines and became the President of Braniff. Lawrence operated the company for the next decade with his unconventional concepts, which resulted in huge financial gains. The earning of the Airline raised ten times in that period.

Mary Wells Lawrence

Mary was the wife of Harding L. Lawrence, who played an important role in the advertising of the Airline. She was the one who ended the era of the plain planes. Earlier, Braniff flights used to be in traditional red, white and blue colorings. The company called the architect Alexander Girard, shoe designer Beth Levine, and popular fashion designer Emilio Pucci to make changes in the branding of the Airline.

They made so many changes with the aircraft as well. The exterior of the flights was painted with a single bright color by the suggestion of Girard, and then they modified it, and tails and wings were painted white. The flight color combination was nicknamed the “Jellybean” fleet.

Not only the exterior but the interior of the flights was also changed; the seats were covered with Herman Miller Fabrics. 

The Hostess services of the Airline also went through changes due to which many corporates ended their relationship with Braniff. Uniform the hostesses were changed, and Hostesses started a mores of shedding outerwear during the journey, naming it the “Air Strip.”

Jet Aircraft

In 1959 Braniff was using Boeing 707-200 and 707-227’s. Braniff sold it’s all 727’s and bought 720s. In 1964, Braniff bought a one-eleven twin jet of BAC, and there were almost every kind of Jets in their fleet till the mid of the decade. However, after Lawrence took over the company, Braniff stopped purchasing BACs and focused on Boeing 727s.

Near the 1960s end, Braniff became an all-jet airline by ceasing the operations of all Lockheed L-188 Elektra turboprops. Then in the 1970s, the Airline focused on the Boeing 727.

The airline company became one of the most popular names in the airline industry. It was popular for its multicolored jets, innovative ideas, and self-promotion. Some popular ideas Braniff came up with are Concorde Travel, Terminal of the future, Calder Liveries, etc. However, the company was shut down after a lifespan of 54 years. Let’s check out how the iconic Airline went bankrupt.

Downhill Slide of Braniff International Airways

Through the 1970s, Braniff became one of the most successful airlines. However, it got a tough competition by American Airlines in the late 70s. The leadership of Braniff focused on the expansion of the Airline in the reaction to the regulations. The Airline included several big cities in its route map. At that time, it was considered one of the major expansion in a single day ever. They created international hubs in both Boston and Los Angeles to take on elevated loads on the global front.

However, all the international routes that came into existence never became fruitful.

From that time, Braniff went towards a fall. The Airline was unable to do big business despite the inclusion of several big cities and routes in their route map. The 747 flights were often flying almost empty due to less business; it leads the Airline towards high debt due to running flight operation. Moreover, the shift of flight services to the Dallas-Fort Worth airport tallied even higher debt. So, the Airline shifted its headquarter to the brand-new Braniff Place. IN 1980, Lawrence was removed from his post due to the high debt and debilitating recession.

In 1982, Howard Putnam made a failed effort to get relief from lenders and creditors and attain an extension on debts that had increased excessively during Lawrence’s control over the company. After failing to get an extension, Braniff stopped the entire business, which sealed the end of 54 years of continuous operation.

It was almost everything from the start to the end of Braniff International Airways. We hope you find the mentioned details impressive. You can share your opinion about Braniff Airways’ failure from the comment section below.

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