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Texas International Airlines
IATA ICAO Callsign
Founded1944 (1944)
(as Aviation Enterprises)
Ceased operationsOctober 31, 1982 (1982-10-31)
(merged into Continental Airlines)
Parent companyTexas Air Corporation (1980–1982)
HeadquartersHouston, Texas, United States
Key peopleFrank Lorenzo

Texas International Airlines Inc. was an airline in the United States, known from 1940 until 1947 as Aviation Enterprises,[1] 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 in Houston, Texas.[2]

Trans-Texas Airways (TTa) was a "local-service" airline as designated by the federal Civil Aeronautics Board in Texas and surrounding states.[3] In August 1953, it scheduled flights to 36 airports from El Paso to Memphis; in May 1968, TTa flew to 48 U.S. airports plus Monterrey, Tampico and Veracruz in Mexico. The airline 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,Ontario CA., Mexico City, Milwaukee, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Omaha, Phoenix, St. Louis, Salt Lake City, Tucson, and Washington, DC, and had an all-DC-9 jet fleet.[4][5] In 2010, Continental merged into United Airlines.


Promotional postcard for Trans-Texas Airways
Revenue passenger traffic, in millions of passenger-miles (scheduled flights only, domestic plus international)
Year Pax-Miles
1951 17
1955 35
1960 70
1965 209
1970 659
1975 580[6]

In 1949, all Trans-Texas Airways flights were operated within the state of Texas with Douglas DC-3s which the airline called "Starliners".[7] In November 1949, it 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.[8]

The network expanded to Memphis and Marshall in 1953, Lafayette in 1956, New Orleans and Jackson in 1959, into Mexico in 1967, and to Denver in 1969. In late 1963 the carrier added 13 new cities by taking over service formerly operated by Continental Airlines. These cities included Albuquerque, Carlsbad, Clovis, Hobbs, Roswell, and Santa Fe in New Mexico as well as Abilene, Amarillo, Big Spring, College Station, Lubbock, Temple, and Waco in Texas.[9]

About April 1961, Convair 240s formerly operated by American Airlines began carrying Trans-Texas passengers; the airline later converted them to Convair 600s, replacing the piston engines with Rolls-Royce Dart turboprop engines. These turboprop powered Convair aircraft were referred to by the airline as the "Jet Powered TTa Silver Cloud 600".[10] First scheduled CV-600 flights were in March 1966. Small Beechcraft C99 commuter turboprops were later added to serve the smaller cities of Longview, Lufkin, Galveston, Tyler and Victoria (the last DC-3 flight was in 1968).

A Texas International Airlines DC-9-15 at Los Angeles International Airport

In October 1966, Trans-Texas Airways introduced the Douglas DC-9-10 (which the airline marketed as the "Pamper-jet")[11] with its jet fleet subsequently being expanded to nineteen DC-9-10s and seven McDonnell Douglas DC-9-30s. By 1968, TTa was flying DC-9s to Beaumont/Port Arthur; Harlingen; Hot Springs, Arkansas, Lake Charles, Louisiana; Roswell, New Mexico, and Santa Fe, New Mexico in addition to larger cities in its route system.[12] DC-9's briefly flew to Clovis, New Mexico, Carlsbad, New Mexico, and Hobbs, New Mexico in 1977.[13]

Trans-Texas was derisively called "Tree Top Airlines," "Tinker Toy Airlines", and "Teeter-Totter Airlines"[14] by competitors and cynical customers. When it changed its name to Texas International Airlines in April 1969,[15] 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 DC-9 and Convair 600. The last Convair 600 flights were in 1979 and Texas International became all-jet with DC-9-10s and DC-9-30s.

In 1970, Texas International served: 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, Texas.[16]

Outside of Texas in 1970, Texas International flew to 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, Mérida and Veracruz.[16] The airline had several "milk run" flights, such as flight 904, a DC-9-10 that left Los Angeles at 11:00 a.m. and stopped in Albuquerque, Roswell, Midland/Odessa, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Houston, and Beaumont/Port Arthur, before arriving in Lafayette at 8:34 p.m.[17]

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 wage cuts spearheaded by Lorenzo and sharp marketing efforts.

In the mid-1970s, in response to competition from Southwest Airlines, Texas International successfully petitioned the Civil Aeronautics Board to allow discounted fares. These fares become a staple of the airline and were advertised as "Peanuts Fares".[18] In spring 1978, the airline was flying nonstop between Dallas/Ft. Worth (DFW) and both Houston Intercontinental Airport (IAH) and Houston Hobby Airport (HOU), up to 18 round trip DC-9 flights a day, all with "Peanut Fares".[19] The Texas International March 15, 1978 timetable advertised "Peanut Fares" in other markets as well.[19]

The first modern frequent-flyer program was created at Texas International Airlines in 1979.[20] 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 and New York Air[21] Texas Air then acquired Continental Airlines in 1982 and merged Continental and Texas International on October 31, 1982, under the former's name. The last Texas International aircraft were seen in 1983.

Today's successor to Trans-Texas Airways and Texas International is United Airlines, which merged with Continental in 2010. United currently operates a large hub at Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH), a former hub for Texas International. The Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) was also a hub for Texas International before its merger with Continental.[22]


A Texas International Airlines Convair CV-600 at Dallas/Fort Worth, 1973

Over the years, Texas International Airlines operated the following aircraft:[23][24]

Aircraft Total Introduced Retired Notes
Beechcraft Model 99 5 1969 1978
Convair CV-600 27 1961 1979 Turboprop conversion from the piston-powered Convair CV-240
Douglas C-47 Skytrain 9 1948 1968
Douglas DC-3 14 1947 1969
McDonnell Douglas DC-9-10 20 1966 1982
McDonnell Douglas DC-9-10MC 5 1967
McDonnell Douglas DC-9-30 30 1969


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.


See also


  1. ^ "Aviation Enterprises". Airline History. Retrieved 8 April 2020.
  2. ^ World Airline Directory. Flight International. March 20, 1975. "505. "Head Office: PO Box 12788. 8437 Lockheed, Houston, Texas 77017, USA."
  3. ^, August 1968 Trans-Texas Airways system timetable
  4. ^; April 1, 1981 Official Airline Guide (OAG), North American edition
  5. ^, June 1, 1982 Continental/Texas International joint timetable
  6. ^ Shut down by strike until 4 April; sched RPMs were 947 million in 1976.
  7. ^, Nov. 1, 1949 Trans-Texas timetable
  8. ^, Nov. 1, 1949 Trans-Texas route map
  9. ^ Trans Texas Airways timetable, October 15, 1963
  10. ^ Time Tables
  11. ^, Oct. 20, 1966 Trans-Texas timetable
  12. ^, August 1968 Trans-Texas timetable
  13. ^ Texas International June 1, 1977 timetable
  14. ^ Michelle C (March 23, 2014). "Trans Texas Airlines service (1949)". Retrieved May 11, 2016.
  15. ^ Nock Komos (August 1989). Air Progress: 76. ((cite journal)): Missing or empty |title= (help)
  16. ^ a b, July 1, 1970 Texas International route map
  17. ^ Feb. 1, 1976 Official Airline Guide, North American edition
  18. ^, July 15, 1981 Texas International route map
  19. ^ a b, March 15, 1978 Texas International timetable
  20. ^ David M Rowell (August 13, 2010). "A History of US Airline Deregulation Part 4 : 1979 - 2010 : The Effects of Deregulation - Lower Fares, More Travel, Frequent Flier Programs". The Travel Insider. Archived from the original on August 16, 2010. Retrieved September 21, 2010.
  21. ^ Thomas Petzinger (1995). "Hard Landings: the epic contest for power and profits that plunged the airlines into chaos". Times Business.
  22. ^, July 15, 1981 Texas International timetable map
  23. ^ "Texas International". Retrieved April 12, 2023.
  24. ^ "Texas International Airlines Fleet Details and History". Retrieved July 22, 2023.
  25. ^ Accident description for N1304T at the Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on 2014-12-11.
  26. ^ Accident description for N9104 at the Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on 2014-12-11.
  27. ^ Accident description for N9103 at the Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on 2014-12-11.