Friendly Skies: Did You Fly These Classic Airlines Out Of Albany?
With its first iteration opened on a polo field in 1908, Albany was the first city in the nation to have a public airport. While that very small airstrip was closed a long time ago, the modern Albany International Airport, aka ALB, was opened in the 30s and has proudly served the Capital Region ever since. Many planes and many carriers have come, gone, and returned since then, including some all-time classics and lesser known companies that went on to big things.
Did You Ever Fly Out of ALB on Any of These Vintage Carriers?
Operating for a decade, Empire Airlines was a New York based carrier originally out of the Oneida County Airport, but moving to Syracuse in the '80s. After Allegheny Airlines was bought out by USAir, Empire tried to cover many of the routes Allegheny abandoned, including flights in and out of Albany.
If you don't remember Empire, you may have better luck with their successor - Piedmont Airlines. Piedmont bought out Empire and merged in 1985. They offered flights between ALB and Baltimore-Washington International Airport for a few years until being absorbed by USAir in 1989.
Braniff International Airways
Founded in 1928, Braniff International didn't come to Albany until its last days. Albany International became the first and only Upstate airport used by the Texas company as they tried to expand in 1979. Braniff was permanently grounded in 1982.
You probably remember this one. Continental only left the Capital Region in 2010, making them the most recent departure on this list. They started their offerings of commuter and connecting flights in the late 80s. Technically speaking, they're still visible in Albany; they merged with United, who proceeded to take their logo which you can still see hurtling over I-87 today.
This is the only air carrier that could call the Capital Region home. Started in 1973 and based out of Albany, Mall was a regional airline that offered smaller flights between New York, New England, Canada, and Washington D.C. In September of 1989, Mall Airways was purchased by Business Express Airlines.
(Unfortunately, I couldn't find an old advertisement for Mall - video or print. If you happen to have one, I'd love to see it and share. You can email me.)
Started in Pittsburgh, this local service carrier took passengers from Albany to two destinations - New York City and Newark. They traded these routes to Eastern Airlines and left the Capital Region in 1974. Little did they know they'd inadvertently be back - Allegheny changed its name after a massive expansion and became... USAir, who purchased Piedmont Airlines. (The airline industry family tree is an interesting one.)
Long before Spirit, People Express was the O.G. budget carrier. People Express called Newark home and served Albany under its massive blanket of routes during its five year life from 1981-1986. Stigmas around the airline's low-paying clientele and extremely rapid expansion led to a fast and hot burnout. It was too much, too soon and PE collapsed under its own weight. It was bought out by Continental Airlines.
Fun aviation fact: Eastern was founded by World War I flying ace Eddie Rickenbacker. For decades, Eastern was THE east coast airline and dominated the industry in flights from New York to Florida. The carrier filed for bankruptcy in 1989 and was retired suddenly and forever in 1991.
Three small regional airlines merged in 1979 to create Republic Airlines. Starting in 1984, Republic offered flights between Albany International and their hub in Detroit. Republic merged with Northwest in 1987 who took over the route until 2008. Another fun aviation fact: while they existed, Republic maintained the world's largest fleet of Douglas DC-9s.
Trans World Airlines
Yes, Albany International was once, very briefly, a destination for one of the most legendary airlines to ever exist. From 1979-1981, TWA served Albany while the company tested using Pittsburgh as a hub.