World Travel Airways
WTA-logo.3

Founded

15 February, 1968

Commenced Operations

29 November, 1969

Operational Status

In service

Headquarters/Hubs

Seattle–Tacoma, Washington, USA
Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Georgia, USA
O’Hare International Airport, Illinois, USA
John F. Kennedy International Airport, New York, USA
San Francisco International Airport, California, USA

ICAO Code

WTA

Callsign

WORLD TRAVEL

Subsidiaries

World Travel Ground Services (WTGS)

Frequent Flyer Program

Global Elite Club

Company Slogan

Climb Higher

Alliance

Star Alliance

Founding Edit

World Travel was founded in February 1968 in Seattle, Washington, and commenced operations in November 1969. The federal state provided the main part of the start-up capital, which was enough to buy 5 brand new Boeing 707-200s, the first of which was delivered from Everett on the same day the company began operations, received by a large celebration.

World Travel Airlines used the jets in the next years mainly to the most famous tourist destinations; In summer, mainly to Palma de Mallorca (Spain) and New York; In winter, to the Canary Islands and Florida (Miami), also departing from other Northwestern airports like Portland, Boise, and Vancouver, to be able to fill the large airplanes.

Beginning of ordering of new planes in 1972 Edit

In 1972, WTA placed orders for the

  • Boeing 727-200,
  • 737-200,
  • 747-200,
  • Airbus A300,
  • and McDonnell Douglas DC-10.

The airline received its first 2 727-200 aircraft on the 5th and 23rd of August the following year. The first 737-200 was received in January in 1974, while the first 747-200B was received in July 1974. The first 747-200M was delivered in September 1974 and the first A300 was delivered in March 1975. The first DC-10 was delivered in August 1975. All aircraft were received by a huge ceremony. By January 1977, World Travel was already the biggest airline for charter flights to and from Seattle. In May 1977, they started to expand their services to the Southwestern, Central, and Eastern United States as well as Central Canada and Northern Mexico.

In 1985, the airline placed orders for the Boeing 757-200 to replace their Boeing 707, 727, and McDonnell Douglas DC-10 aircraft. The first 757-200 was delivered in June 1986. In 1987, orders were placed for the McDonnell Douglas MD-11, the first of which was received in February 1988.

In 1991, the airline commenced vehicle freight operations on board their Boeing 747-200 Combi aircraft. The first vehicle, a 1990 Chevrolet Lumina, was transported aboard Boeing 747 Combi N412WT from Anchorage to Miami on 18 April, 1991. Today, the vehicle manifest ranges from small hybrid cars to trailers and RVs.

Financial Issues Edit

During the span between 1993 and 2000, the airline was plagued by financial troubles, mostly due to intense competition with more successful airlines such as Orbit and Pacifica. WTA’s biggest blow came in 1995 following the crash of one of their 747s in Miami, which claimed the lives of 302 people. After the crash, WTA retired their fleet of 747-200s and replaced them with the more advanced 747-400.

In 2001, the airline updated their livery. The new livery consisted of a white fuselage with a dark blue cheatline running down the fuselage, a dark blue stripe on the tail, and “World Travel Airlines” written on the fuselage and tail.

That same year, following the resuming of their vehicle operations, the airline began a slow recovery from financial problems. However, due to aggressive pricing policy of airlines like Landmark, Orbit, and Pacifica, World Travel lost many profitable contracts with important tour operators. Finally, in August 2001, due to a tarnished reputation plagued by decreased passenger revenue, Air Datum, one of WTA’s major competitors, filed for bankruptcy. World Travel agreed to buy the airline and its investments. This strategy was to buy smaller planes, to be more flexible.

The airline completed the merger in February 2002, which was a Milestone for World Travel Airlines. WTA acquired Air Datum’s fleet of Boeing 737-400s, 737-500s, 737-700s, and Airbus A320 aircraft.

Boeing-737-400World Travel Airlines

Boeing 737-400 in the old livery

On 1 March, 2002, World Travel placed orders for the Boeing 757-300ER, 767-300ER, and 777-200ER for long-haul routes between the US, Europe, Asia, and Africa.

In April 2006, World Travel was able to complete a great business deal with Soar Airlines, which recently cancelled an order for 25 brand-new Boeing 737-800 aircraft, which have since been put into storage. The first 6 aircraft entered Service on 15 September, 2006, which was the beginning of a new era in the history of the airline. Meanwhile, World Travel was finally able to build up a network of connections to smaller airports with lower passenger volume and, at the same time, they could offer feeder services to fill their new 737s. Although short-haul and various seasonal routes are the main operations of the Boeing 737-800 today, some routes include ones flown between the US, Canada, Mexico, and the US Virgin Islands.

In February 2007, the airline updated their livery. The airline repainted most of their aircraft with the newly introduced “Discover” livery, which consists of a blue and white fuselage with “World Travel” written above the passenger windows and a blue globe on the tail. This is the airline’s main livery, though a handful of aircraft still wear the previous 2000-2006 livery.

In July 2009, the airline retired many of their older aircraft such as the Boeing 737-400, 737-500, 767-200, Airbus A300, and McDonnell Douglas MD-11, replacing them with aircraft such as the Boeing 737-800, 757-300ER, 767-300ER, 767-400ER, 777-200ER, Airbus A321, A330, and A340.

However, three of the airline’s MD-11 aircraft, N502WT, N507WT, and N511WT, were kept operating for a brief period of time; The airline operated the aircraft on a series of throwback heritage flights between US destinations and Canada from March until November 2011. Since then, the MD-11 is no longer a part of the World Travel fleet.Like Orbit Airlines MD-11s they were sold to Global Airlines.

In October 2010, WTA began placing orders for the more advanced Airbus A321 and Boeing 737-900. The first of which were received in May and July 2011, respectively.

Since 2010, WTA expanded its route network to the whole world and won several awards. In recent years, the airline was praised for the second-highest customer satisfaction rating behind Orbit Airlines.

In March 2014, the airline placed orders for the Boeing 737MAX8, Boeing 747-8I, Boeing 787-9, and Airbus A350. The first 3 737MAX8s and the first 2 747-8Is were delivered in January and August 2015, respectively.

On 20 July 2014, the airline’s CEO´s father withdrew from business and became CEO of American Pacific Airways. Meanwhile, WTA introduced a new strategy for their network, in which Seattle (SEA), San Francisco (SFO), Chicago (ORD), Dallas (DFW), and New York (JFK) would be the most important US hubs in the airline’s network, including aircraft maintenance. Only airports with important installations from World Travel Airlines, such as maintenance facilities, will keep operating at smaller airports with a limited quantity of flights, including the possibility to change planes with a boarding pass passengers receive at their airport of origin and automatic luggage transfer to the final destination. Like this, the number of hubs will increase but they will work more efficiently and passengers can choose connections faster than before. Other important destinations will become focus cities, operating only point to point traffic.

On May 11, 2017, WTA received its first Airbus A350. 2 weeks later on 25 May, the airline’s first Boeing 787-9 was delivered. Each aircraft was received and introduced with a ceremony.

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport will remain the official home base of World Travel Airlines, as it is the nearest airport to the headquarters of WTA. Sea-Tac will become the most important hub for continental and some intercontinental flights. There also will be light maintenance work in the existing hangars on the airline’s fleet of narrow-body aircraft.

Boeing-737-400World Travel Airlines

Boeing 737-400 wearing the airline’s red and white “Globe” livery (1985-1999)

WTA-A321-red-livery

Airbus A321 wearing the 1985-1999 livery

AC7B7D28-9AD7-4CA8-AA47-8122827CDBB0

BT-67

WTA2

Boeing 747-400 in the old livery

WTA.B738

Boeing 737-800 in the 2001-2006 livery

World Travel Airlines Boeing 777-300 PW 2

Boeing 777-300

World Travel Airlines Airbus a340-300 3

Airbus A340-300

Thumbnail

Boeing 747-8i

World Travel Airlines a350-1000

Airbus A350

In Operation Edit

Aircraft Number of operating
Airbus A320 30
Airbus A321 23
Airbus A330 20
Airbus A340 17
Airbus A350 5 (on order)
Boeing 737-700 42
Boeing 737-800 46
Boeing 737-900 25
Boeing 737MAX8 5 (on order)
Boeing 747-400 23
Boeing 747-8i 16 (on order)
Boeing 757-200 20
Boeing 757-300ER 28
Boeing 767-300ER 17
Boeing 767-400ER 21
Boeing 777-300ER 23
Boeing 787-9 7 (on order)

Former Aircraft Edit

Aircraft
Airbus A300-600R
Boeing 707
Boeing 727-200
Boeing 737-300
Boeing 737-400
Boeing 737-500
Boeing 747-200
Boeing 767-200ER
McDonnell Douglas DC-10
McDonnell Douglas MD-11
Basler BT-67

Accidents and IncidentsEdit

Flight Number Date Aircraft Flight Route Summary Crash synopsis
WT64 26 March, 1973 Boeing 707 Chicago-Dallas Crash due to running out of fuel Ran out of fuel while in holding pattern over Dallas in bad weather. It crash-landed in a cornfield near the airport, injuring 9 people.
WT482 15 September 1977 Boeing 727-200 Seattle-Denver Uncontained engine failure; subsequent burst into flames Experienced an un-contained engine failure of the #3 engine during flight. It diverted to Portland, where it subsequently burst into flames. 22 of the 67 people onboard were killed. The cause of the crash was determined to be poor maintenance of the #3 engine.
WT289 12 January 1979 Airbus A300 New York-Bogota Ditched in Atlantic Ocean due to fuel leak and fire. Suffered a fuel leak and fire in the #1 engine. It subsequently ditched in the Atlantic Ocean near Key West, Florida. The plane broke up on impact, killing 60 of the 98 people onboard. The survivors were rescued by the US Coast Guard 2 days later.
WT96 30 June 1981 Boeing 747-200B Tokyo-Honolulu-Halifax Passenger hijacking The flight was hijacked by a man claiming to have a bomb onboard. He ordered the pilots to fly to Miami. The plane flew there, where city SWAT teams held the aircraft at gunpoint on the tarmac for 2 hours. The hijacker peacefully surrendered to law enforcement and was removed from the flight, which continued on to Halifax.
WT138 4 May 1986 McDonnell Douglas DC-10 Detroit-Seattle Crash due to improper maintenance and overstress on right wing The plane was climbing out of Detroit when it lost part of its right wing. It rolled over and crashed into an office park near the airport, killing all 281 passengers and crew onboard. The cause of the crash was extended and excessive stress placed on the wing, which was poorly maintained over 5 years.
WT2947 9 February 1990 Boeing 737-400 Phoenix-Asheville Runway overrun by hydroplaning The aircraft overran the runway at Asheville after landing due to hydroplaning. No one was killed, however, 2 were injured during the evacuation. The aircraft was subsequently written off from the collapsed front gear and warped airframe.
WT720 12 April 1995 Boeing 747-200 Combi Miami-Anchorage Weight imbalance, leading to stall The plane stalled and crashed into the Everglades upon takeoff from Miami, killing 302 people. The crash occurred as a result of a dramatic weight shift in the cargo area caused by an incorrectly loaded automobile snapping its restraints, which were worn out over repeated use, and rolling off its pallet and striking additional pallets in the cargo area. The situation was further hampered by lack of situational awareness on the flight crew’s part.

As a result of this disaster, the airline plunged into a financial crisis and suspended their vehicle freight operations in 1996. World Travel replaced their 747-200s with 747-400s and resumed vehicle freight operations in 2000. As of January 2017, it remains the deadliest accident in World Travel’s history.

WT63 4 March 1996 McDonnell Douglas MD-11 San Francisco-Dallas Tire blowout upon landing The aircraft was landing in Dallas when it suffered a tire blowout on the right main landing gear. The plane then veered off the runway and the right main landing gear collapsed, damaging the plane’s wing and engine. There were no fatalities in the incident.
WT891 27 October 1999 Airbus A320 Detroit – Ottawa Mentally unstable passenger threatened to hijack aircraft The aircraft had to return to Detroit after a mentally unstable male passenger grabbed a flight attendant and threatened to hijack the plane. The flight landed at Detroit without further incident and the passenger was arrested and removed.
WT1970 2 January 2000 Boeing 747-400 Amsterdam – Newark Near-stall The plane had to return to Amsterdam Schiphol Aircraft after it rolled over on its side and began to lose altitude. The flight landed without further incident. Although there were no fatalities, 29 people sustained injuries.
WT3805 23 August 2004 Boeing 757-200 Bogota – San Francisco Right rear door failed inflight; followed by rapid decompression The plane had to divert to Las Vegas after the suffered rapid decompression followed an in-flight failure of the right rear cabin door. No one was harmed. The cause was linked to the door not being closed and latched properly. The aircraft was repaired and resumed service.
WT742 25 March 2010 Boeing 737-800 Atlanta – Salt Lake City Passenger stuck in toilet due to inadvertent toilet flush Infamous for its hilarity, the Boeing 737-800 was travelling from Atlanta to Salt Lake City when it had to divert to Louisville after a passenger got stuck in the toilet in the aircraft’s lavatory. The passenger was extricated from the toilet with only minor injuries. In an interview, the passenger stated that he had inadvertently pressed the flush button and got his buttocks sucked into the toilet.
WT6380 12 December 2016 Airbus A321 Salt Lake City – New York Uncontained engine failure and fire The flight was taxiing at Salt Lake City International Airport when it suffered an uncontained engine failure and subsequent fire. The Airbus, as well as a Pacific Regional Bombardier CRJ700 taxiing behind, were substantially damaged by the fire. The airport was shut down 3 hours after the incident.
WT1417 1 March 2017 Boeing 747-400 Seattle – Tacoma – Tokyo Collision The plane was taxiing at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport when it collided with an Orbit Airlines Airbus A321. Both aircraft suffered subsequent fire damage and were taken out of service. Only 2 passengers suffered injuries.
WT221 27 November 2017 Airbus A330 Geneva – Melbourne Engine failure; subsequent diversion to Rome The flight diverted to Rome after the crew reported an engine failure. It was delayed for 3 hours.
WT1967 27 December 2017; 1 month after WT221 Airbus A321 Montevideo – Punta Arenas Crash due to hydraulical failure. The A321 departed from Montevideo airport at 7.13pm local time. About five minutes later, it suffered a hydraulic leak, prompting the crew to return to the airport. Because the leak occurred on the left side of the plane, the left flaps were inoperative. When the pilots lowered the flaps, the plane lost control of the aircraft and crashed into the district of Malvin, 8km away from the airport. All 156 passengers and crew died.
WT5219 13 January 2018 Airbus A321 LaGuardia – Houston Collision The A321 collided with the wing of an Orbit Airlines 757, causing subsequent fire. The cause of the collision was determined to be the WTA pilot’s fault. The pilot did not obey the ATC instructions to wait until the Orbit 757 pushbacked. The pilot was fired.
WT481 7 July 2018 Airbus A330 New York – Los Angeles Unruly passenger The plane was going to pushback from the gate when an unruly passenger refused to put on its seatbelt and disrespected the flight attendant. Airport police were called and the passenger was forcibly removed.
WT33 21 November 2018 Boeing 777 Hong Kong – Singapore Ditch landing due to fuel leak While flying over the South China Sea, WT33 suddenly experienced a fuel leak. This led to a short supply of fuel. When it ran out, the pilots were forced to ditch the aircraft in the South China Sea. The plane’s nose broke away from the fuselage on impact, injuring 3 passengers. There were no fatalities. The cause of the leak was due to a faulty fuel pipe which went undetected.
WT8584 24 November 2018 Boeing 747-400 Dubai – Bogota Low fuel emergency landing The Boeing 747 was flying over the Canary Islands when it experienced a fuel leak. The plane conducted an emergency landing at Tenerife airport. No one was harmed.
WT731 October 13 2006 Boeing 737-800 London – Frankfurt Dual engine failure caused the aircraft to divert to Frankfurt. While cursing over Germany, WT731 suffered a dual engine failure at cruise altitude. The pilots quickly excluded an emergency descent and managed to bring the plane to Frankfurt. The plane entered a 22 mile final for runway 25L before a hard landing. The only sustained damage in the event was the airframe from the rough landing and the engines. No severe injuries were reported.

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