Last month marked 23 years since Delta pulled the plug on Pan Am. On Dec. 4, 1991, Delta revealed its decision to not honor its commitment to fund a new Miami-based Pan Am, and the historic carrier shut down. Ted Reed at Fortune takes an interesting look back at the circumstances leading to Delta’s decision and the legal battle that followed. Thanks to Jen C at Time for sharing.
“During the last months of Pan Am I was given the task of coordinating the move of equipment and personnel from JFK to MIA for Pan Am 2,” as well as moving other equipment to Atlanta because Delta was taking over the trans-Atlantic routes,” said Ray Anton, Director of MIA maintenance. Anton called new Pan Am, which would primarily serve South America from a Miami hub, “Pan Am 2.” At first, “All of us with Pan Am in Miami shared sense of relief and optimism for the future,” Anton said. “After years of losses and negativity, we saw light at the end of the tunnel.
Five days after the shutdown, Pan Am filed a $2.5 billion lawsuit against Delta, claiming that Delta illegally backed away from its commitment to finance its bankruptcy emergence. Anton offered depositions and testimony. In 1994, Delta won the court battle when U.S. District Court Judge Robert Patterson ruled Delta was not liable.
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