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Popularly known as TWA, Trans World Airlines was formed on October 1, 1930 when Transcontinental Air Transport and Western Air Express merged to form Trancontinental and Western Airlines. It was bought by Howard Hughes in 1939, and under the leadership of Hughes and CEO Jack Frye began a huge expansion of service during World War II. The company's name was changed to Trans World in 1950, four years after TWA became the second U.S. airline to start transatlantic service with Lockheed Constellations. It was based in Kansas City, Missouri until 1958, when its executive offices moved to New York City. Hughes sold the airline in 1965. It was incorporated as part of Trans World Corporation in 1979.

On September 26, 1985, raider Carl Icahn bought control of TWA. He privatized the company in 1988, taking $469 million for himself and leaving the company $540 million in debt. In January of 1992, Icahn filed TWA for Chapter 11 protection, and sold many of its transatlantic routes to American Airlines and USAir. TWA's reorganization was not complete until 1993, when Icahn sold his stake in the airline and it reverted to 45% employee control, 55% creditor control. Still, the airline was vastly undercapitalized, poorly managed, and not too lucky (the TWA Flight 800 crash didn't help them).

While the airline itself was operating very smoothly, and receiving rave reviews from passengers, it was a financial disaster by the late 1990's. On January 10, 2001, the airline filed for Chapter 11 once more, and agreed to be purchased by American Airlines. Over the next year, TWA's routes and aircraft were integrated into the AA network, and now the airline is no more.

TWA's major hubs were at Lambert International Airport in St. Louis, Missouri and John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York. At the time of its demise, it was operating a fleet of Boeing 767 and McDonnell Douglas MD-88 aircraft, which are now repainted and flying in American's livery.

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