The world’s largest airline…. American Airlines


By Heathrow

Published 3rd June 2016

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Home > Must See > The world's largest airline.... American…

American Airlines, the world’s largest airline, features in ITV’s Heathrow: Britain’s Busiest Airport – and to celebrate we’ve taken a closer look at the carrier! From humble beginnings delivering mail to a route network of over 350 destinations today – the airline has changed dramatically since it began 90 years ago!

American’s long, proud history began on the morning of April 15, 1926, when legendary aviator Charles A. Lindbergh, the chief pilot of Robertson Aircraft Corporation, stowed a bag of mail in his DH-4 biplane and took off from Chicago, headed to St. Louis.

Nine decades later, Robertson is counted as one of the many airlines that would eventually make up what is now the world’s largest carrier – American Airlines.

The American Airlines Group (as it is officially known today) formed in 2013 as US Airways Group merged with AMR Corporation (parent company of American Airlines).

American Airlines key numbers:

  • Destinations: Over 350 in more than 50 countries
  • Number of aircraft: 1528 (at the end of 2015) including 15 Boeing Dreamliner 787-8′
  • Passengers per year: 201.25 million in 2015
  • Daily flights: 6,700 (average)
  • Main airports of operation: NYC (JFK and LGA), Philadelphia, Washington DC, Chicago, Charlotte, Miami, Dallas, Phoenix and Los Angeles.
  • Established: 1926

Major Milestones in American’s 90 year History: The early years…

American founder C.R. Smith worked with Donald Douglas to create the DC-3; a plane that changed the entire airline industry, switching revenue sources from mail to passengers.

On April 15, 1926, Charles Lindbergh flew the first American Airlines flight – carrying U.S. mail from St. Louis, Missouri, to Chicago, Illinois.

On June 25, 1936, American became the first airline to fly the DC-3 with a commercial service from New York to Chicago. The aircraft design proved to be an incredibly durable one with a few hundred still flying even today!

In 1939, All American Aviation, later known as US Airways, was founded in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, while All American Aviation began trading on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE).

American Overseas Airlines was formed by American in 1945 and with that the carrier began its first transatlantic services. The first of these services was a New York City to London flight on October 24.


In 1953, American became the first airline to fly a non-stop transcontinental service across the U.S.A (from coast to coast) using a Douglas DC-7.

Another world-first followed for American in 1957 when it opened the first special facility for flight attendant training – the American Airlines Stewardess College in Dallas.

Between 1959 and 1970, the airline introduced the first U.S.A designed turboprop plane – the Lockheed Electra, hired the first African-American commercial airline pilot Dave Harris (December 1964), and merged with Trans Carribean Airways (January 1970).


On May 1st, 1981, American introduced the first airline loyalty programme, Advantage, which is still running today.

America West, which later became part of US Airways, commenced operations in Tempe, Arizona, in 1983.

On November 1, 1984, American introduced the American Eagle system – which involved partnerships with regional airlines who were allowed to operate under shared branding. These partnerships in turn led to a greater feed of traffic into American’s long-haul flights utilising a hub and spoke operational model.

In 1989, American began expanding its Latin American service after acquiring routes from Eastern Airlines.

By early 1991, American had carried 1 billion customers in its history!


Between 2001 and 2005, American acquired Trans World Airlines assets and flights and US Airways combined with America West.

December 9, 2013, saw the most significant event in American’s recent history as its parent company AMR Corporation and US Airways Group officially formed the American Airlines Group. Flight US 1939 later became the last US Airways flight when it touched down in  Philadelphia on October 16, 2015. The number “1939” was specifically chosen as this was the year US Airways first operated under the name All American Aviation.

Since October 17, 2015, American and US Airways have operated as one airline with a single passenger service system.

What’s next for American Airlines? New aircraft, new destinations, and flat bed seats…

After taking delivery of 112 new aircraft, more than any other airline, in 2015, American are expecting another 84 to arrive this year – an average of one new plane every four days! They now have the youngest fleet of any U.S.A based international airline.

These new aircraft are part of an ongoing US$3 billion investment in customer experience which also includes upgraded menus, amenity kits, and airport and lounge facilities.

These new aircraft are part of an ongoing US$3 billion investment in customer experience which also includes upgraded menus, amenity kits, and airport and lounge facilities.

As a result, American’s new Boeing 777-300s and the 787s have fully lie-flat, aisle accessible seats and Wi-Fi. Existing aircraft, such as the Boeing 777-200, 767-300 and 757-200 are also being retrofitted with flat beds and Wi-fi.

In 2016, Auckland, Tokyo Haneda and Cancun will be added to the airline’s route network – following on from the launch of flights to Hong Kong, Edinburgh, Sydney and Birmingham in the last 18 months.


By Heathrow

Published 3rd June 2016