Re: American 737-200s

Date:         27 Jun 97 15:37:17 
From:         Ken Ishiguro <kenish@ix.netcom.com>
Organization: Netcom
References:   1 2 3
Followups:    1
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Mihir Pramod Shah wrote:
>
> Brian Maddison wrote:
> >
> > They never owned the 200s, altho I do believe one or two were leased for
> > a short time. Most of the American-owned 200s (N-numbers with AC suffix)
> > went to the Kansas City incarnation of Braniff and have since wound up
> > with various operators, including Viscount. I don't know where the leased
> > ones (GB suffix) went and I can't find them in any current US fleet.
>
> I've never heard of Viscount.  Are you possible thinking of Vanguard,
> which does use 737-200's and is based in Kansas City?  Just wanted to
> make sure...

American did, indeed own 737-200's and -300's for approximately 12-24
months, around 1985.  They got these when they purchased AirCal (ex. Air
California), code OC to obtain AirCal's route system.  At the time of
purchase, this extended to all major cities from SEA down to SAN, also
RNO, PHX?, LAS, ORD, etc. Their hub was John Wayne/Orange County
Airport, SNA.  AA paid big bucks $450M to gain these markets; ironically
the only old AirCal route AA still flies out of SNA is SNA-ORD. All the
other routes out of SNA have either been abandoned by AA, or are flown
under codeshare by Reno Air (QQ).  These routes are SNA-SJC/RNO/SEA.
The purchase was probably spurred by US Air's acquisition of PSA, which
pretty much competed route for route with OC.  AirCal flew 737-200,
737-300, MD80, and BAe 146; all of these flew in AA livery for varying
lengths of time after the purchase.

Some of OCs -200 fleet was leased to Aloha Airlines. OC also had an
arrangement with Aer Lingus; a -200 in EI colors would frequent SNA from
time to time.  They also flew Lockheed Electras; these were gone by
1980.

AirCal and SNA history:  Air California started in 1967, when SNA was
opened to jet operations.  Previously, SNA was serviced by Air West,
Bonanza, etc. by F27's and the like.  As the local Orange County area
boomed, development encroached, and the airport is now one of the
world's most noise-sensitive (with a very interesting and questionably
safe departure).  The -200s were put on less noise sensitive routes, and
the MD80s, -300s, and 146's were used increasingly for SNA ops.  In
1980(?) Air California had their first and only accident (several minor
injuries).  The airline was soon renamed AirCal with a new livery (which
was one of the most handsome liveries I have seen on an MD-80).  SNA is
now served by AA,UA,CO,DL,NW,AS,TW,QQ,WN,US,HP, several commuters,
FedEx, and UPS.  They also have heavy corporate and private operations.
The airport is under strict noise rules including jet curfews, allowed
aircraft types, number of departures, and number of passengers. This
leads to incentives to get as many people out per flight on as quiet an
aircraft as possible; numerous 757s, 737-300/-400, MD80/88/90, and
A320/310.  SNA is capable of 767-200 ops, but none have ever done so,
even though AA has 2 SNA-DFW morning flights 10 minutes apart which both
go out full.  Although the airport has existed at the site since 1923,
there is heavy political pressure to close SNA and relocate El Toro
Marine Corps Air Station which is closing in 1999. (See
eltoroairport.com)

Tail numbers and fate of the fleet:  The AC suffix is obvious, the GB
suffix was also popular, and I believe predated the AC suffix.  I do
agree this was probably the leasing company. In 1985 I flew the
reincarnated Braniff from MCI to MKE and recognized the aircraft as
ex-AirCal. The tail number, interior decor, and even the galley carts
and trays were still AirCal.  Around 1987 I did see a row of 146s in AA
colors parked at LAS.  I don't know if the MD80s were absorbed into AAs
fleet.

Can anyone provide more detail on the fate of AirCal's aircraft?  The
reincarnated Braniff's hub was MCI, so the Vanguard theory holds a lot
of water.

There is also a website of ex-AirCal employees, with lots of history,
nostalgia, etc.  Don't recall the URL; try a search.