Since the U. S. Airline Deregulation Act of 1978, Looking Back to New England

By: Category: AirlinesAirports Around the World

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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.

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Besides Boston’s Logan International Airport, the New England market was made up of a dozen or so small to moderate cities. Air taxi and commuter services grew. In particular, Connecticut’s Bradley International Airport (which changed its name from Bradley Field around a decade earlier), saw a handful of regional services come and go. Manchester, New Hampshire saw services wax and wane; it wasn’t until a major terminal and runway expansion, and Low Cost Carrier Southwest entrance to the market, did that airport grow. Smaller markets, such as Bangor and Portland Maine, saw service increase, and other airports saw charter and some service too. Nashua’s Boire Field saw the introduction of service from Precision Airlines, and specialized charter service and non-scheduled service from the likes of Citrus Hills shuttled prospective home buyers from New Hampshire to Florida in Convair 580s.

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Boston and New York City were major markets, and those cities’ hubs for major airlines helped feed the demand for service from smaller New England airports. Piper Navajos and Beech 99s gave way to ATR-42s and Dash 8s; Shorts 3-30s and 360s, DeHavilland Twin Otters and Sweringen Metros filled the ranks of regional services too.

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Here’s a look at some of the airlines and their propeller-driven equipment used at Bradley and Manchester during 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 subsequent decades and of the constant technological improvements of commercial aircraft. My added bonus is a group of airliners and for-charter transports that served Nashua, NH too.

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