The Genealogy of U.S. Airlines
The carriers are color coded and line widths represent market share for any particular year.
Over its short history, the US airline industry has experienced many dynamic phases of expansion and consolidation. From its origins in the 1920s, when air mail carriers started to transport passengers, to the creation (with the not so gentle prodding of the government) of the Big Four (American, United, TWA, and Eastern), from the rise of the local service carriers to deregulation and the most recent wave of mergers and acquisitions, the industry continues to fascinate both the casual traveler and the aviation buff.
The purpose of this graphic is to uncover and explain how the industry was created and how it arrived at its present form. At the core is a full genealogy of over 100 US airlines from the major airlines to the small local service carriers. Folded into the genealogy is the relative market share of passenger traffic for each airline. This allows the viewer to understand how the industry was controlled for many decades by the Big Four and how this dominance was quickly replaced by a number of other airlines.
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