The airline business is extremely volatile and no stranger to bankruptcies and insolvencies. In the over 100th anniversary of the industry, several iconic airline brands have disappeared from the US aviation landscape due to financial pressures, inability to deal with globalization and rising competition, mergers, and acquisitions. But a handful of carriers dating back to the early 20th century have managed to survive the brutally competitive marketplace and continue serving passengers in their original forms. From the early days of commercial aviation till now, they have come a long way and created a legacy of becoming the longest-standing airlines in the US. We’ll take a closer look into the oldest carriers in the United States of America that are still in service. Are you ready to take off?
5 Longest-standing airlines in the USA
1. Delta Air Lines
Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines is the longest-living airline in the US and currently holds the second position among the world’s largest airlines in terms of passenger numbers. It was founded 97 years ago on March 2, 1925, as Huff Daland Dusters and commenced its passenger operations on July 17, 1929, on the Dallas-Jackson route. Delta is a global icon that has revolutionized the airline sector with its industry-leading network encompassing nine hubs and flights to over 300 destinations with 850 + aircraft.
2. American Airlines
American Airlines is not only the world’s largest airline but also one of the oldest airlines still in operation. Tracing its roots to April 15, 1926, as a mail carrier, American Airlines was created in 1934 with a conglomeration of more than 80 small airlines. It is the airline of the firsts from several perspectives: the first airline to operate propeller-drive Douglas DC-3, become the owner of the world’s first airline lounge, launch the first notable mileage frequent-flyer initiative AAdvantage, introduce the first domestic scheduled US freight service, offer coast-to-coast jet service with Boeing 707, offer full-inflight internet in the US. With nearly 100 years of operations, American Airlines has carved a rich history and remains the true staple of the US aviation industry. It is a Texas-based aviation giant that operates more than 6500 flights daily to nearly 350 destinations in over 50 countries.
3. Grand Canyon Airlines
Another oldest airline still in service in the US is Arizona-headquartered Grand Canyon Airlines. The airline was formed in 1927 as Scenic Airways, an air tour company, and changed its name to Grand Canyon Airlines three years later. As a 14 CFR Part 135 air carrier, it operates sightseeing tours and charter service to some of the most impressive natural landforms in the American Southwest, with expanded trips to Monument Valley, Rainbow Bridge, Antelope Canyon, Tower Butte, and many other desert formations.
The carrier bills itself as the most experienced Grand Canyon air tour company in light of its nearly a century of service. Over the past ninety years, the oldest aerial tour company has ferried more than 100 million passengers to the Grand Canyon, Rainbow Bridge, and beyond.
4. Hawaiian Airlines
For good reasons, the air titan in the US state of Hawaii, Hawaiian Airlines, is a renowned brand. With a squeaky clean accident record, Hawaiian Airlines is the oldest US carrier, never to suffer a fatal accident or a hull loss throughout its 93-year-old history. It is the largest commercial flight operator to/from Hawaii and makes up the 10 top spots in the on-time carrier list in the US.
Hawaiian Airlines is the successor to Inter-Island Airways, which was incorporated on January 30, 1929. Over the years, the carrier has pushed through from a mere small air company in Hawaii to the tenth-largest commercial airline in America. It is based in Honolulu and maintains primary and secondary hubs at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport and Kahului Airport, respectively.
5. Wiggin Airways
A Manchester-based cargo airline called Wiggin Airways is on the list of longest-standing airlines in the US. Like the aforementioned passenger carriers, this freighter airline has also carved a rich history in US aviation by ferrying mails and goods across New England and other Northeast states since its inception in 1929. It is a subsidiary of the US FAA Part 135 largest cargo carrier Ameriflight and offers cargo services from its Machester-Boston Regional Airport. It has a fleet size of 51 cargo aircraft, most of which operate as feeders for cargo giants like UPS and FedEx.