This Day in History
President Jimmy Carter signs the Airline Deregulation Act into law on October 24, 1978. The Act would leave the United States airline industry in the hands of market forces, to where individual carriers could set their own prices and make expansions and cuts to their networks without needing approval from the government. On the other side, the government would be spared from bailing out individual carriers (if not the entire industry) in rough economic times.
In these 34 years since the Deregulation was signed, the airline industry in our nation has changed greatly. Startups, bankruptcies, mergers, acquisitions, the economy, rising costs, and even terrorism would shape the industry into what we know today. Some airlines thrived and conquered, others became footnotes in history. Great marques like Pan Am, TWA, Eastern and Braniff gave way to up-and-comers like Southwest, JetBlue, Spirit and Virgin America. Delta, United, and US Airways have become super-airlines with diverse bloodlines. American is there but for the grace of some divine providence. Alaska and Hawaiian fit nice niches, but always dream beyond. Frontier proved to be a miraculous resurrection. Subcontractors like SkyWest, Republic, and Colgan Air find their place as the mainline carriers seek to do more with less. Through it all, the airline industry in America is full of rich history and tremendous potential, and this Tumblog is honored to chronicle it.