Soon after the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978 was signed, commercial flight operations (especially those of U.S. domestic airlines) began to change. New companies operating large and small airliners popped up, older, established companies went bankrupt and ceased operations, and many less profitable companies merged with others for financial considerations. The major U.S. airlines adopted the hub-and-spoke system of connecting flights, searching for a profit.
The Boston Logan International Airport, Massachusetts’ largest and busiest, bucked the trend a bit. As busy as it was, it did not become a hub for a major airline. Several companies fortified their operations, operating what is sometimes called a “focus” city schedule, but the market share was spread between the half-dozen national and a handful of regional airlines. With the New England market made up of a dozen or so small to moderate cities, air taxi and commuter services grew too.
Boston was a relatively short distance from New York City and Upstate New York cities, as well as the remainder of the New England state’s capitals and larger towns. Initially, aircraft used for service in between these airports ranged from 7 and 11 passenger Piper Navajos, Beech 99s, Fokker FK-27/FH-227s, and even some piston transports like DC-3s and Martin 404s. A decade later, newer turboprops, such as Beech 1900s, Dash 7s and Dash 8s, ATR-42s, and Shorts Brothers SHD3-30 and -360s became common too. Freighters at Boston ran the gamut from Beech 18s and Convair piston liners, to Lockheed 188 Electra turboprops.
Here’s a look at some of the airlines and their propeller-driven equipment used at Boston in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Very few of these airlines, or the aircraft they flew, are still active today, victims of the waves of economic changes of the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s, and of the constant technological improvements of commercial aircraft. Look back every few weeks, there’ll be more photos of classic airliners from Boston – from props to jetliners – and from surrounding New England and New York airports taken during the 1980s and 1990s.