Texas International Airlines Inc. was a United States airline, known from 1944 until 1947 as Aviation Enterprises, until 1969 as Trans-Texas Airways (TTa), and as Texas International Airlines until 1982 when it merged with Continental Airlines. It was headquartered near William P. Hobby Airport (HOU) in Houston, Texas.
With hubs at Dallas and Houston, Trans-Texas Airways (TTa) was a "local service" airline as designated by the federal Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) in Texas and surrounding states. In August 1953 it operated scheduled flights to 36 airports from El Paso to Memphis. By May 1968 TTa flew to 48 U.S. airports plus Monterrey, Tampico and Veracruz in Mexico. The airline then changed its name to Texas International and continued to grow.
When Texas International was merged into Continental Airlines in 1982 it had grown to reach Baltimore, Colorado Springs, Denver, Fort Lauderdale, Hartford, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Mexico City, Milwaukee, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Omaha, Phoenix, St. Louis, Salt Lake City, Tucson and Washington D.C. and was operating an all DC-9 jet fleet.
In 1949 Trans-Texas Airways (TTa) operated only in Texas with Douglas DC-3s which the airline called "Starliners". The TTa "Route of the Starliners" in November 1949 served Alpine, Beaumont/Port Arthur, Beeville, Brownsville, Brownwood, Carrizo Springs/Crystal City, Coleman, Dallas (Love Field), Del Rio, Eagle Pass, El Paso, Fort Stockton, Fort Worth, Galveston, Harlingen, Houston (Hobby Airport), Laredo, Lufkin, Marfa, McAllen, Palestine, San Angelo, San Antonio, Uvalde, Van Horn and Victoria.
Circa 1961 TTA added Convair 240s and a few years later began converting them to Convair 600s, replacing the piston engines with Rolls-Royce Dart turboprops. Small Beechcraft C99 regional turboprops were later added to the fleet to serve the smaller cities of Longview, Lufkin, Galveston, and Victoria as the DC-3s were retired. In the fall of 1963 TTa routes stretched from Albuquerque, NM and El Paso, TX in the west to Memphis, TN; Jackson, MS and New Orleans, LA in the east.
In 1966 Trans-Texas Airways introduced jet service with new Douglas DC-9-10s which the airline called the "Pamper-jet". The Douglas DC-9 fleet was progressively expanded and at one point included nineteen DC-9-10s and seven stretched McDonnell Douglas DC-9-30s. By 1968 TTa was flying DC-9s into such small airports such as Beaumont/Port Arthur, Texas; Harlingen, Texas; Hot Springs, Arkansas, Lake Charles, Louisiana; Roswell, New Mexico and Santa Fe, New Mexico. DC-9's were also briefly operated at Clovis, New Mexico, Carlsbad, New Mexico, and Hobbs, New Mexico in 1977. The airline was derisively called "Tree Top Airlines," "Tinker Toy Airlines" and "Teeter-Totter Airlines" by competitors and cynical customers. When Trans-Texas Airways changed its name to Texas International Airlines in April 1969, the company ran newspaper ads showing a Tinker Toy airplane flying along treetops. The copy read "No More Tinker Toys. No More Treetops. We are now Texas International Airlines." As Texas International, the airline standardized on the Douglas DC-9 and the Convair 600. The Convair 600s would eventually be retired and Texas International would become all-jet with DC-9-10s and DC-9-30s.
In 1970 Texas International served the following destinations in Texas: Abilene, Amarillo, Austin, Beaumont/Port Arthur, Big Spring, Brownwood, Bryan/College Station, Corpus Christi, Dallas/Ft. Worth, El Paso, Galveston, Harlingen, Houston, Laredo, Longview, Lubbock, Lufkin, McAllen, Midland/Odessa, San Angelo, San Antonio, Temple, Tyler, Victoria, Waco and Wichita Falls.
Outside of Texas, in 1970 Texas International was serving Arkansas (El Dorado, Hot Springs, Jonesboro, Little Rock, Pine Bluff and Texarkana); California (Los Angeles); Colorado, (Denver); Louisiana (Alexandria, Baton Rouge, Fort Polk, Lafayette, Lake Charles, Monroe, New Orleans and Shreveport); Mississippi (Jackson); New Mexico (Albuquerque, Carlsbad, Clovis, Hobbs, Roswell and Santa Fe); Tennessee (Memphis); and Utah (Salt Lake City). In Mexico flights reached Monterrey, Tampico and Veracruz. The airline operated several "milk run" flights like flight 904, a DC-9-10 that left Los Angeles at 11:00am and stopped in Albuquerque, Roswell, Midland/Odessa, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Houston and Beaumont/Port Arthur before arrival at 8:34pm at Lafayette.
After suffering annual losses of up to $3 million, Texas International was acquired in 1972 by Jet Capital Corporation headed by 32-year-old Frank Lorenzo. The airline quickly realized a $6 million profit, largely due to aggressive wage cuts spearheaded by Lorenzo as well as sharp marketing efforts.
During the mid-1970s, in response to intense competition from Southwest Airlines, Texas International successfully petitioned the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) to begin offering discounted fares. These fares become a staple of the airline and were advertised as "Peanuts Fares". In the spring of 1978, the airline was operating nonstop service between Dallas/Ft. Worth (DFW) and both Houston Intercontinental Airport (IAH) and Houston Hobby Airport (HOU) with a combined total of up to eighteen round trip DC-9 jet flights a day, all of which featured "Peanut Fares". The Texas International March 15, 1978 system timetable advertised "Peanut Fares" in other markets served by the airline as well.
The first modern frequent flyer program was created at Texas International Airlines in 1979. Lacking the computer resources of their larger competitors, Texas International was overtaken by American's introduction of AAdvantage in May, 1981.
On June 11, 1980 Lorenzo established a holding company, Texas Air Corporation, for Texas International. Texas Air then acquired Continental Airlines in 1982 and merged Continental and Texas International with TI assuming the former's name. The last Texas International aircraft were seen in 1983.
The ultimate successor to Trans-Texas Airways and Texas International is United Airlines, which merged with Continental in 2010. The airline has one of their largest hubs at George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH), a former hub for Texas International. Dallas/Fort Worth Airport (DFW) was also a hub for Texas International before its merger with Continental.Beechcraft C99
Convair 600 (turboprop conversion of the piston powered Convair 240)
McDonnell Douglas DC-9-30
Following the name change to Texas International, the airline's early livery consisted of a dark purple cheatline above the windows leading up into three branches on the tail, which in 1973 was changed to a thick red cheatline across the windows on a white fuselage, along with a Columbia blue cheatline with a large white star on a blue tail.
Destination information includes Trans-Texas Airways (TTa) and Texas International scheduled passenger service from 1949 to 1982.On February 6, 1969, Douglas DC-9-15MC N1304T collided in mid-air with a small, single engine Piper PA-28 aircraft over Harlingen, Texas; the Piper crashed, seriously injuring the pilot; the DC-9 landed safely with no casualties to the 59 on board.
On September 27, 1973, Flight 655, a Convair 600, crashed in Arkansas while on a scheduled passenger/cargo flight from El Dorado, Arkansas to Texarkana, Arkansas; all 11 on board died. This accident was the only fatal accident involving the airline as well as the only fatal accident involving the Convair 600.
On November 16, 1976, Flight 987, a Douglas DC-9-14 (N9104), overran the runway and crashed on takeoff from Denver Stapleton International Airport (DEN) due to an unexplained malfunction of the stall warning system; all 86 on board survived, but the aircraft was written off.
On March 17, 1980, Douglas DC-9-14 N9103 overran the runway while landing in rain at Baton Rouge Ryan Airport (BTR) due to pilot and ATC errors; all 50 on board survived, but the aircraft was written off.