NEWARK, N.J. – After 71 years, TWA will make its last flight from Newark International Airport Saturday, with a 5:35 p.m. trip to St. Louis.
TWA was acquired earlier this year by American Airlines.
Ron Brennan, TWA's manager at the airport, said travelers might still see the TWA livery on planes, but the flights will operate as American Airlines.
"It's another one of those great names that won't be with us anymore," Susan Baer, Newark airport's general manager, told The Star-Ledger of Newark for Friday's editions. "It doesn't change the contribution they made, but it's sad."
The venerable carrier was born at Newark airport — three years after Charles Lindbergh made his solo trans-Atlantic trek in 1927 — and has a storied history in the airline industry.
Bishop Fulton Sheen, a 1950's television preacher, once joked that TWA stood for "Travel With Angels."
"We used to call ourselves the airline of the stars," said Valerie Latty, a 23-year veteran who once checked Diana Spencer in for a flight before she married Prince Charles. As a flight attendant, she met Cary Grant, Elizabeth Taylor and Woody Allen.
Customer service agent Bill Saul took his first job at TWA in Newark in 1964, when half of TWA's planes were still propeller-driven Constellations.
The Dunellen resident remembers writing every ticket by hand — dates, times, cities, and the numbers of the connecting flights.
TWA, based in St. Louis, was formed in 1930 from the merger of Western Air Express and Transcontinental Air Transport. That year, the combined company became the first airline to offer coast-to-coast air service, with a flight from Newark to Los Angeles.
A one-way ticket for the 36-hour trip cost $184 — or $1,962 in today's dollars.
Other TWA firsts include quick-frozen, pre-cooked meals in 1947, brewed coffee in 1957 and movies in 1961. Its Boeing Stratoliners were the first to feature pressurized, all-weather cabins.
Billionaire Howard Hughes controlled TWA for 25 years until 1965. Financier Carl Icahn took over from 1985-1993, when the airline began to shrink. It sold its London routes to American and US Airways and fell into bankruptcy.
In 1996, TWA Flight 800 crashed off Long Island, and the carrier never recovered. By the time American made its bid, TWA was in its third bankruptcy and hadn't made a profit in 12 years.
The $742 million deal was closed in April.