Tower Air


Tower Air

Infobox Airline
airline = Tower Air

logo_size = 260
fleet_size = 17
destinations = 9
IATA = FF
ICAO = TOW
callsign = TowerAir
parent =
company_slogan = "Going Places"
founded = 1983
ceased = 2000
headquarters = Jamaica, Queens, New York City, New York
key_people = Morris K. Nachtomi (co-founder, owner, manager)
hubs = John F. Kennedy International Airport
secondary_hubs =
focus_cities = Ben Gurion International Airport
frequent_flyer =
lounge =
alliance =
website = [http://web.archive.org/web/20000510062736/http://www.towerair.com/ www.towerair.com] (defunct)

Tower Air was a low-fare and charter U.S. airline that operated from 1983 until 2000, when it declared bankruptcy and was liquidated. During the mid-1980s until People Express ceased operations in 1987, the airline was a main competitor of People Express, in the high-density U.S. domestic market, but it had initially begun service as an international-only airline.

History

Tower Air was co-founded, majority owned, and managed by Morris K. Nachtomi, an Israeli citizen who had immigrated to the United States. After a 30-year career with El Al, Nachtomi joined a wholesaler and tour package operator called "Tower Travel Corporation" in 1981 and co-founded Tower Air one year later with Zev Melamid, Mordechi Gill, and Sam Fondlier. Arthur Fondlier, son of Sam Fondlier and the Chief Financial Officer of Tower, was a passenger in first class on Pan Am flight 103. His untimely death gave Mr. Nachtomi much more freedom in management and cost-cutting.

The company won many contracts from the United States Department of Defense to transport U.S. armed forces personnel to overseas locations, and from the U.N. to transport troops to its peacekeeping missions all over the world. It was often chartered to fly groups of Muslim pilgrims to Mecca.

Tower Air's main base of scheduled operations was John F. Kennedy International Airport in Jamaica, New York and during its peak had its own terminal (the former Eastern Airlines Terminal). It had a large focus on flights to Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv, Israel, becoming a major competitor of El Al and British Airways in the US-Israel market. The airline also had several flights into France, Greece, and Brazil as well as high density domestic destinations in the New York market, including San Juan, Miami, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas, Nevada. The airline was unique as being exclusively composed of Boeing 747-100 and -200 series aircraft.

The 1997 Zagat Survey placed Tower Air 59th out of 61 ranked carriers, edging ahead of Valujet and Aeroflot. [ [http://archives.seattletimes.nwsource.com/cgi-bin/texis.cgi/web/vortex/display?slug=2537107&date=19970504 Air Travel -- Trans-Pacific Carriers Tops In Airline Poll] , "Seattle Times" News Services, May 4, 1997.] In February 1998, the Federal Aviation Administration proposed two civil penalties totaling $276,000 for continuing to fly aircraft that required maintenance action [ [http://web.archive.org/web/20000121235506/http://www.faa.gov/apa/pr/feb/aea0198.html FAA Proposes Two Fines For Tower Air] , Federal Aviation Administration press release, February 3, 1998.] . The FAA successfully sought in January, 1998 to have the airline remove then-29 year old Mr. Guy Nachtomi, son of the Chairman and CEO, from the position as Vice President-Operations, in part because of the airline's maintenance, as well the junior Mr. Nachtomi's little airline experience, having worked at Twentieth Century Fox until 1994. [ [http://sec.edgar-online.com/1998/05/01/14/0000940180-98-000483/Section9.asp TOWER AIR INC - TOWRQ Proxy Statement (definitive) (DEF 14A) COMPENSATION OF DIRECTORS ] ] The junior Mr. Nachtomi continued service with the company in a capacity unrelated to maintenance as Vice President-Office of the Chairman. [ [http://sec.edgar-online.com/1998/05/01/14/0000940180-98-000483/Section9.asp TOWER AIR INC - TOWRQ Proxy Statement (definitive) (DEF 14A) COMPENSATION OF DIRECTORS ] ] The Department of Defense Commercial Airlift Review Board suspended Tower Air military charters from January 27 to February 12, 1999, pending an on-site review of their operations. At the same time the airline lost an arbitration brought by the Association of Flight Attendants, claiming that Tower Air had begun lodging its flight attendants in dirty Tel Aviv hotels with poor security and bed bugs.Fact|date=March 2007

Tower Air filed for protection under Chapter 11 bankruptcy on February 29, 2000, ceased all scheduled service on May 1, 2000 [" [http://web.archive.org/web/20000510042326/www.towerair.com/news.cfm TOWER AIR SUSPENDS ALL SCHEDULED FLIGHT OPERATIONS EFFECTIVE MAY 1, 2000.] ." "Tower Air".] , and surrendered its FAA air carrier operating certificate on November 28, 2000 [ [http://airconsumer.ost.dot.gov/cessations/tower2.htm Information for Consumers Regarding the Cessation of Service by Tower Air] , Aviation Consumer Protection Division, Department of Transportation.] .

Destinations

Destinations at time of closure

*Israel
**Tel Aviv" [http://web.archive.org/web/19990429120219/http://www.towerair.com/destinations.cfm Destinations] " as of April 29, 1999. "Tower Air".] " [http://web.archive.org/web/20000306115247/http://www.towerair.com/destinations.cfm Destinations] " as of March 6, 2000. "Tower Air".]

*United States
**Miami, Florida
**New York City, New York (JFKAirline Hub)
**San Juan, Puerto Rico

Destinations before closure

*France
**Paris" [http://web.archive.org/web/19980701165422/http://www.towerair.com/news.cfm Tower Air News July 1, 1998 - 12:50 PM] ." "Tower Air".] " [http://www.allbusiness.com/transportation/air-transportation-air-charter-services/6645892-1.html Tower Air Brings First Kosovo Refugees to U.S.;Airline to Perform 40 Mercy Missions Over the Next Month Under ContractWith...] ." "Business Wire".]
*Greece
**Athens
*Dominican Republic
**Santo Domingo
*United States
**Fort Lauderdale, Florida
**Las Vegas, Nevada
**Los Angeles, California
**San Francisco, California

Other facts of interest

*Tower Air was prominently featured in such movies as "Liar Liar" and "Turbulence." The latter featured one of its 747 aircraft in the full colors of fictional TransCon Airlines. The aircraft was flown by Tower Air pilots and filming conducted by Aviation Photographer Clay Lacy.
*Many former Tower Air airplanes have been stored in Marana, Arizona.
*Major artifacts from the World Trade Center are housed for safekeeping in the former Tower Air Hangar 17 at John F. Kennedy International Airport.
*A retired Boeing 747 from this airline was used for a hillside house. First it was dismantled. Now, it is currently being recycled.

Aircraft

Tower Air's fleet consisted of 17 Boeing 747 planes in both the 747-100 and 747-200 series, with 14 passenger aircraft and three cargo aircraft.

Incidents and accidents

On December 20, 1995, Tower Air flight 41 from New York Kennedy to Miami veered off the runway during takeoff resulting in 1 flight attendant receiving serious injuries and 24 passengers receiving minor injuries. The aircraft sustained heavy damage and had to be written off. [ [http://www.planespotters.net/Production_List/Boeing/747/20271.html N605FF Tower Air Boeing 747-136 - cn 20271 / ln 172 - Planespotters.net ] ] The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) determined that the probable cause of this accident was the captain's failure to reject the takeoff in a timely manner when excessive nosewheel steering tiller inputs resulted in a loss of directional control on a slippery runway. [ [http://www.ntsb.gov/Publictn/1996/AAR9604.pdf Runway Departure During Attempted Takeoff, Tower Air Flight 41, Boeing 747-136, N605FF, JFK International Airport, New York, December 20, 1995 ] ] [ [http://dnausers.d-n-a.net/dnetGOJG/201295xx.htm NTSB Press Release - 10/29/96 ] ] [ [http://aviation-safety.net/investigation/cvr/transcripts/cvr_ff41.php Aviation Safety Network > Accident investigation > CVR / FDR > Transcripts > CVR transcript Tower Air Flight 41 - 20 DEC 1995 ] ] [ [http://aviation-safety.net/database/record.php?id=19951220-0 ASN Aircraft accident description Boeing 747-136 N605FF - New York-John F. Kennedy International Airport, NY (JFK) ] ]

References

External links

* [http://web.archive.org/web/20000510062736/http://www.towerair.com/ Tower Air] website (defunct)
* [http://www.twst.com/notes/articles/gax626.html 1997 interview with co-founder]
* [http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_hb4803/is_200005/ai_n17436986 Tower Air Collapse Will Bring Higher N.Y. Air Fares.]
* [http://www.atlantis.gr/towerair/destinations.html Travel agency advertising Tower Air service to Athens]
* [http://www.towerair.org Tower Air Debrief]


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