Braniff International Airways was an
airline that existed from 1928 until 1982.
After it ceased operations in 1982, the Hyatt corporation bought the remaining company assets, and the airline flew from 1984 until 1989. The last link to the original corporation was forever gone until 1991, when Jeffery Chodorow tried to resurrect it. His fledgling "Braniff III" only lasted a year; Chodorow was later found to be embezzelling funds and was incarcerated.
Braniff International’s history can be traced back to 1928, when an insurance salesman and financier named Thomas E. Braniff financed an aviation company for his brother Paul Revere Braniff. The first Braniff was named Paul R. Braniff, Inc. For the next few years, the airline would be purchased at least twice and ownership would change, but the original Braniff brothers would remain a part of the company.
The Braniff Brothers restarted Braniff in 1930 as Braniff Airways, Inc. During the 1930s Braniff Airways expanded its service throughout the Midwest. Braniff’s long-term survival was assured when Paul Braniff, then General Manager, flew to Washington D.C. to petition for the Chicago-Dallas air mail route. The United States Post Office granted Braniff an airmail route in 1934, in the wake of the 1934 Air Mail Scandal, thanks to Paul Braniff's effort. In 1935, it was the first airline to fly from Chicago, Illinois to the U.S.-Mexico border. This is probably where its slogan, "From the Great Lakes to the Gulf", originated. Paul Braniff left the airline in 1935 to pursue other interests, and Tom Braniff hired Charles "Chuck" Beard to run the airline's day to day operations. Beard would become President and CEO of Braniff in 1954.
In the next few years the airline acquired a number of other airlines, as well as new Douglas DC-2 and Douglas DC-3 aircraft. During the war era, the airline leased some of its fleet to the United States military. Facilities at Dallas Love Field and throughout the country became training sites for pilots and mechanics. During the 1940s, Braniff was allowed by the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) to serve the Caribbean, Latin America, and South America. These routes were served by the new and improved Douglas DC-6 aircraft.
During the 1950s the airline expanded nationwide. The acquisition of Mid-Continent Airlines in 1952 allowed Braniff to add several more domestic cities to its already established North-South route system. In 1954, Thomas E. Braniff died in a private plane crash near Shreveport, Louisiana, and Paul R. Braniff died later that year of cancer. Charles "Chuck" Beard became the first non-Braniff President of the colorful carrier after Tom's death. He would lead Braniff into the jet-age, and would be instrumental in turning Braniff into a 95% jet carrier by 1964.
In 1959, Braniff entered the jet age with the introduction of the Boeing 707-227, although it was the only airline to use this variation.
The Concorde, the world's second supersonic airliner (the first being the Soviet Tupolev Tu-144) was the culmination of an Anglo-French investment between Britain's BAe and France's Aerospatiale. As part of Braniff's supersonic dreams, the airline started service in 1979 between Dallas/Fort Worth and Washington D.C. to Paris and London on interchange flights with British Airways and Air France. Flights between Dallas/Fort Worth and Washington Dulles airport were commanded by Braniff cockpit and cabin crews (including Braniff captains Glenn Shoop, Ken Larson and Dean Smith) while British or French crews would take over for the remaining segment to Europe. Over US soil, the Concorde was limited to Mach 0.95, though crews often flew just above Mach 1; the planes flew at Mach 2 over open water.
Unfortunately, the Concorde service proved a fiscal disaster for Braniff. Though Braniff initially charged only a $10 premium over standard first-class fare to fly Concorde - and later removed the surcharge altogether - the 100-seat plane often flew with no more than 15 passengers. Meanwhile, Boeing 727s flying the same route were filled routinely. Consequently, Concorde service ended little more than a year after it began; although many postcards show a Braniff Concorde, the Braniff livery was never actually applied to any aircraft.