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#AncientAirlines: New York Air Had Attitude, Grew Quickly, Then Folded

The little airline had attitude but it never really gained enough altitude to survive the turbulent era of the late ’80s.

#AncientAirlines is our new series dedicated to highlighting some of the outstanding, unique, and odd airlines they flew in the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s.  Look for a new airline profiled every week!

New York Air began in 1980 and was based out of LaGuardia International. New York Air was created as an offshoot of Texas Air designed to be competitive with the few airlines based out of the area by offering frequent and cheap flights in the area. New York air was a small airline with only a few destinations and a small fleet but had a loyal following.

At the time, the New York City market actually suffered from a lack of low fares. Therefore, New York Air’s formula of low fares and friendly service caught on quickly.  They had low walk up fares (important at the time because flights could only be booked by a travel agent or over the phone).  New York Air also had free drinks and assigned seats.  The airline even had special snack bags called “The Flying Nosh”.  They were handed out in flight and were reusable.

The airline operated the mighty Douglas DC 9, a few McDonnell Douglas MD-82s, and 737-300s. The aircraft were painted bright red and had a clever apple painted on the side as a shout out to the “Big Apple.” You couldn’t help but think of the gaudy Big Apple at Shea Stadium when you saw that tail.

At their height, New York Air employed over 2,000 people and operated a smaller operation known as New York Air Connection, offering connecting service on smaller aircraft to northern New York State. However, in 1987 after their creator Texas Air agreed to a merger with Continental, New York Air ceased to exist along as an independent airline as their cleverly painted aircraft became adorned with ‘meatballs’ on the tail.

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