World Airways, Inc. was an American airline headquartered in Peachtree City, Georgia in Greater Atlanta. For the most part, the company operated non-scheduled services. World Airways ceased all operations on March 27, 2014.
World Airways was founded in 1948 by Benjamin Pepper with the introduction of ex-Pan American World Airways Boeing 314 flying boats. Edward Daly, however, is thought of as World’s founder. He bought the airline in 1950 for $50,000 and proceeded to acquire DC-4s.
World got its first government contract in 1951 and had a substantial amount of government business since then until it ceased operations.
Later, World acquired DC-6s and Lockheed Constellations. World entered the jet era in the late 1960s with Boeing 707s and 727s. In the early 1970s, World acquired Douglas DC-8s.
World became a key military contractor during the Vietnam War, flying troops and equipment between the war zone and World’s base at Oakland International Airport. On March 29, 1975, World operated the last airlift flight out of Đà Nẵng, Vietnam. Two 727s were flown to Đà Nẵng, one of which had Ed Daly aboard. Thousands rushed the airplane and it took off on a taxiway under heavy fire. The aircraft with Daly aboard started its takeoff roll with the 727’s back airstairs still down with Daly fending off additional people trying to leave due to over capacity (The film of this was later broadcast on the CBS Evening News on March 30, 1975). When the airplane landed at Saigon, there were 268 people in the cabin and possibly 60 or more in the cargo holds. World did not return to Đà Nẵng until April 17, 2002, then with an MD-11 aircraft to pick up a team of people resolving Missing-In-Action cases from the Vietnam War.
Also, in the early 1970s, World operated three Boeing 747 aircraft and was the launch customer for the “flip nose” front-loading variant of the 747. Later, World acquired DC-10s that were retired in 2010. World experienced heavy losses in the 1980s as a result of operating scheduled passenger services. In the late 1980s, the company moved its headquarters from Oakland to Washington Dulles International Airport, acquired Key Airlines from Bain Capital’s Presidential Airways, and established ties to Malaysia Airlines. World was burdened financially as its cash was siphoned off by parent WorldCorp to support a telecommunications venture in which the parent had invested. During the first Persian Gulf War, World did a substantial amount of profitable business for the military, enabling the addition of the MD-11 to the fleet. During the mid-1990s, World operated the military passenger trunk route from Osan Air Base, Korea and Kadena Air Base, Okinawa to Los Angeles, using MD-11 aircraft. World has been headquartered near Atlanta Hartsfield International Airport.
The airline received a substantial amount of its business from the military, especially in its role connecting American bases in the U.S. to the Middle East. It also thrived on passenger and freight contracts with private organizations, such as the Jacksonville Jaguars of the National Football League, as well as wet leases to other airlines. With such wet lease arrangements, World Airways essentially functioned as a cargo airline arm or subsidiary, of another airline in which a separate division would not be an efficient use of an airlines resources.
In 2006, World Airways became a subsidiary of World Air Holdings, Inc. On April 5, 2007, World Airways returned to its Oakland and Bay Area roots where they were headquartered from 1956 to 1987. It was later acquired by ATA Holdings, which was renamed Global Aero Logistics, in a transaction valued at $315 million. With this, ATA’s President, Subodh Karnik became the head of all three certificated airlines autonomous operations, ATA Airlines, North American Airlines, and World Airways. In 2007 GAL moved its operation to the World Airways building in Peachtree City, Georgia. Robert Binns was named Chief Executive Officer of GAL in April 2008 and Charlie McDonald was named president. Larry Montford became COO of World Airways. All three have since left the airline.
On March 27, 2014, World Airways announced the immediate cessation of all operations. At the time of its closure, World’s fleet consisted of MD-11 trijet aircraft both in freighter and passenger configurations and of 747-400 freighters.
On November 8, 2017, investment firm 777 Partners, announced it had acquired the intellectual property of World Airways, Inc. and planned to relaunch the airline as a low cost international carrier with a fleet of Boeing 787 Dreamliners. The new airline will be based at Miami International Airport with MIA and Los Angeles International Airport as initial operating hubs.
Scheduled passenger service
World Airways operated scheduled international and domestic passenger service with its McDonnell Douglas DC-10 wide body jetliners as well as domestic flights with Boeing 727 jets during the 1980s. Destinations served included:
- Baltimore, MD – via Baltimore Washington International Airport (BWI)
- Frankfurt, Germany (FRA)
- Honolulu, HI (HNL)
- Kansas City, MO (MCI)
- London, England – via Gatwick Airport (LGW)
- Los Angeles, CA – via Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)
- Newark, NJ – via Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR)
- Oakland, CA – via Oakland International Airport (OAK)
- Orlando, FL – via Orlando International Airport (MCO)
- San Francisco, CA – via San Francisco International Airport (SFO)
- Washington, DC – via Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD)
As of March 2014, the World Airways fleet consisted of the following aircraft, with an average fleet age of 19.8 years:
World Airways also previously operated the following aircraft types during its existence:
World Airways’s corporate headquarters were in Peachtree City, Georgia in Greater Atlanta.
In the 1970s World Airways had its headquarters on the grounds of Oakland International Airport (OAK) in Oakland, California in the San Francisco Bay Area. In the 1990s World Airways had its headquarters in unincorporated Fairfax County, Virginia, near Herndon, in Greater Washington DC. In 2001 World Airways moved its headquarters to Peachtree City from Fairfax County.
Accidents and incidents
- September 19, 1960World Airways Flight 830 took off from the Agana Naval Air Station on the island of Guam for a night time VFR flight to Wake Island. The plane made a right turn after takeoff and climbed continuously until striking Mount Barrigada. The plane struck the mountain 300 feet above airfield elevation and slid into thick underbrush. There were 94 occupants on board with 80 fatalities. The probable cause was the failure of the pilot to comply with published departure procedures. :
- September 8, 1973World Airways Flight 802, a DC-8 operating on a cargo flight for the Military Airlift Command, crashed into high ground while on approach to Cold Bay Airport, Alaska. All six people on board were killed. The probable cause was the captain’s deviation from approved instrument approach procedures.:
- September 20, 1981an in-flight accident took place on a DC-10 from Baltimore to London. Flight attendant Karen Williams was killed when she became trapped in the lower galley elevator of the double-deck aircraft. An electrical malfunction and human error were both blamed as the cause. The rising elevator trapped the flight attendant between the top of the elevator shaft and a serving cart that she was apparently trying to release from its locking device. :
- January 23, 1982World Airways Flight 30, a DC-10 landing at Boston’s Logan International Airport under icy conditions and limited visibility slid off the end of the runway and plunged into Boston Harbor, separating the cockpit section from the rest of the aircraft. Two passengers were missing and were reported as fatalities. However, no bodies were found in the very shallow water. The main cause of this accident was the Massachusetts Port Authority’s failure to provide adequate runway braking reports to the crew although previous aircraft had reported little to no braking action prior to World’s landing. :
- May 6, 2009a DC-10-30 with registration N139WA operating as flight 8535 from Leipzig, Germany for the Military Airlift Command experienced a firm landing at Baltimore-Washington International Airport (BWI). As a result of the captain’s response to the firm landing, the plane’s nose wheel struck the runway hard two times. The aircraft blew one of its front tires and had to execute a go-around before landing successfully. Several passengers were injured, including the first officer, who suffered back trauma. The age of the aircraft (29 years 11 months at the time of the accident) and the extent of damage to the front landing gear and fuselage resulted in the aircraft being written off. The aircraft was parted out and is now used on-site at the same airport for fire/rescue training and practice purposes. :
- NYCAviation Staff (March 27, 2014). “BREAKING: World Airways Immediately Shutting Down”. Retrieved November 8, 2015.
- “World Airways: Contact Us”. World Airways. Archived from the original on July 9, 2014. Retrieved November 8, 2015.
- Dunning, Bruce. “Dunning’s Frantic Flight”. CBS News. Retrieved August 29, 2013.
- Harding, Robin (August 17, 2012). “How Mitt Romney earned his wings”. Business Spectator. Retrieved November 8, 2015.
- “World Airways Heritage Past & Present”. World Airways. Archived from the original on July 9, 2014. Retrieved September 29, 2009.
- Kristin Bender (June 14, 2005). “Vietnamese make sentimental trip back to homeland”. Oakland Tribune. Retrieved November 8, 2015.
- Ben Mutzabaugh (April 6, 2007). “ATA to buy World Air, North American Air”. USA Today. Archived from the original on October 29, 2008. Retrieved March 17, 2009.
- “World Air Holdings Agrees to be Acquired by Global Aero Logistics Inc”. World Airways, Inc. April 5, 2007. Archived from the original on September 28, 2007. Retrieved March 17, 2009.
- María Corina Roldan (November 8, 2017). “777 PARTNERS ANNOUNCED RE-LAUNCH OF WORLD AIRWAYS”. Retrieved November 8, 2017.
- “departedflights.com, World Airways Sept. 1, 1982 system timetable”. Retrieved November 8, 2015.
- departedflights.com, World Airways Oct. 28, 1984 route map
- “Feb. 15, 1985 Official Airline Guide (OAG), North American Edition”. departedflights.com. Retrieved November 8, 2015.
- “World Airways Feb. 10, 1986 system timetable”. departedflights.com. Retrieved November 8, 2015.
- http://www.departedflights.com, Feb. 10, 1986 World Airways timetable
- “World Airways At a Glance”. World Airways. Archived from the original on July 9, 2014. Retrieved November 8, 2015.
- http://www.airliners.net, photos of World Airways aircraft
- “World’s Charter Airlines.” Flight International. October 10, 1974. 466.
- “World Airline Directory.” Flight International. March 25–31, 1998. 103.
- “McDonnel Douglas DC-6A/AN90779 Accident Description”. Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved November 8, 2015.
- “World Airways Disputes Claim”. The Leader-Post. September 22, 1981. Retrieved November 8, 2015.
- “World Airways, Inc., Flight 30H, McDonnell Douglas DC-10-30CF, N113WA, Boston-Logan Int’l Airport, Boston, Massachusetts, Jan. 23, 1982 (Revised)” (PDF). NTSB. July 10, 1985. Retrieved November 8, 2015.
- “World Airways, Flight 8535, Boeing DC-10-30, N139WA, Baltimore-Washington International Airport, Baltimore, Maryland, May 6, 2009”. NTSB. September 27, 2010. Retrieved November 8, 2015.
- Thomson, Candy. “Recalling hard landing at BWI in 2009”. Baltimore Sun. Retrieved February 13, 2019.
- “World Airways: Official website”. Archived from the original on July 16, 2014.
- “World Airways Fleet:MD11 Passenger Charter Aircraft”. World Airways. Archived from the original on March 28, 2014. Retrieved November 8, 2015.
- Booth, Darren (April 20, 2012). “Vintage Airline Seat Map: World Airways DC10 (1987)”. Frequently Flying Blog. Retrieved November 8, 2015.
- Ortega, Sergio (March 29, 2014). “World Airways: A Video Tribute”. Air Odyssey Blog. Retrieved November 8, 2015.
- “World Airways: A World of Difference (1960’s promotional film)”. YouTube. October 30, 2014. Retrieved November 8, 2015.
- “World Airways: Safety Demonstration Video (1985)”. YouTube. April 19, 2008. Retrieved November 8, 2015.
- “World Airways: Stowage Video (2010’s)”. YouTube. December 2, 2013. Retrieved November 8, 2015.