Jay Pritzker, of Hyatt Hotels, was behind the reorganization of Braniff International and brought it out of Bankruptcy in December 1983 at the request of Captain Glenn Shoop and other former Braniff employees (Captain Jim Olsen was forming Sun Country Airlines at the same time). Pritzker had been a former Navy Pilot. When they brought it out of bankruptcy, they changed the name to "Dalfort Corporation." Dalfort Corporation, was really Braniff Airways, reorganized in Nevada. Braniff, Inc. was a new company started with the majority of the stock owned by Dalfort Corporation...It was Braniff Inc.'s parent company. In fact Dalfort Corporation, fell under another Corporation called Hyatt Air, which controlled several corporations.
Although Pritzker went on record saying he had never been involved
in the aviation industry, he is shown on The Board of Directors of Continental
Airlines in the 1961 and 1962 Annual Reports with none other than
Harding Lawrence. Also, Pritzker elected Troy Post, the man who had hired
Lawrence in 1965, to the "new" Dalfort/Braniff, Inc. 1984
Board of Directors.
HOWEVER, former Braniff pilot and one of Braniff's few Concorde pilots, Glenn P. Shoop, (see the "Concorde" area on this page for his signature on the inagural flight in 1979)
was also elected to the new Braniff Board of Directors.
Braniff used the Lemmon Avenue base, originally built in 1957 for Braniff Airways, as its
new headquarters. The selected 727-200s were flown over from D/FW airport to receive
a new paint scheme of red, white, blue and grey. Many ex-Braniff Airways employees donated their time for free in refurbishing the 727s.
This included re-painting each aircraft, installing new carpeting, re-installing Braniff's leather seats which were already in most of the "ultra" sheme aircraft.
This audio file is "public domain" and may be downloaded for personal use. If you plan to post it on another website, we would appreciate the credit. Thanks.
On March 1, 1984, Braniff flew its first flight as Braniff, Inc. from Dallas/Fort
Worth to New Orleans on N453BN. The second flight was Dallas to Houston (George W. Cearley, Jr. and Delta's Steve Caisse were on this flight) on N446BN. Both 727-227s. Braniff initially served 18 cities which were: Dallas/Fort Worth, New York/Newark, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., Miami, Detroit, Denver, New Orleans, Houston, Austin, San Antonio, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and San Francisco. They also flew Braniff's original four cities: Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Kansas City and Chicago. "The Braniff Terminal" at D/FW was used as the main HUB with 30 leased 727s. (Most from BRNF Liquidating Trust).
The Company operated 170 daily departures.
Joe H. Mitchell, a great supporter of "The Braniff Pages" was made Manager of Administrations at D/FW. He also became president of the Dallas and Houston BIC (Braniff International Council) Clubs...a post formerly held by Harry E. McKillop. Although Mr. Mitchell only owned 100 token shares of the club. The B.I.C. clubs were necessary because liquor could only be sold through private clubs in Dallas and Houston at the time. Joe served as the liason between B.I.C. and the Texas Alcohol and Beverage Commision.
Things started off sort of rocky for the new Braniff. In November, Braniff substanially
reduced scheduled service, terminated leases on 10 of its 30 727s, and re-defined its
role by focusing on long-haul routes at lower fares.
This seemed to work, as Braniff announced a net income of $1.6 million on May 1st.
Also this year, "The Braniff Pages" Managing Director flew Braniff from Austin
to Denver. The flight was extremely nice, but unfortunately it was almost empty.
1985 also saw expansion into Mexico, with flights to Mexico City and Acupulco. (making it, unofficially, Braniff International once again.)
In March of 1986, Braniff's fiscal year ended with a positive net income of $23 million.
Also that year, Braniff joined other airlines listing on American Airlines SAABRE reservations system. However, there has been some debate (to this day) that SAABRE always favoured American's flights first even if another airline offered a lower fare.
Braniff's short success was fleeting after March's reported $9 million loss.
This did not, however, stop Braniff from expanding. Braniff picked up (leases) 10 737-200s from Polaris leasing. These 737s had been owned by Western Airlines, and were sold to polaris by Delta after the Western - Delta merger. All the ex-Western machines had been manufactured in 1968 and 1969.
By now, Braniff was flying 20 727-200s and 10 737-200s. A total of 30 aircraft.
In December 1987, Braniff looked at merging with Pan American World Airways, but the deal never went through. (Ed Acker, John Casey and Mary Wells-Lawrence were at Pan Am at the time...all members of the former Braniff Lawrence Group i.e. "Lawrencian Empire.")
In January, Braniff signed a joint services agreement with commuter airline Florida Express which commenced using the Braniff name.
Four months later, in April, Braniff acquired Florida Express adding 24 new cities and new gates at its Kansas City and Orlando hubs.
THE BEGINNING OF THE END
In June, 1988 BIA-COR Holdings, Inc. - Core Group led by Jeffrey Chodorow (who would reform Braniff one more time in 1991 and steal the rest of the companies' assets) and Arthur Cohen bought Braniff from Dalfort Corporation. Scot Spencer also joined the team, who, as you will find out, was thrown in jail for his involvement in Braniff III. They borrowed LARGE sums of money to pay Pritzker and Post for the airline. A new management team was brought in, and Bill McGee was named Chairman, president and CEO. McGee was formerly with Piedmont Aviation, Inc. (Piedmont Airlines). Dalfort, led by Pritzker in 1988, still held a substantial stake in Braniff, Inc.
The new team placed an order for 12 new Fokker 100 aircraft. The Fokkers were meant to replace the leased BAC-111's which Braniff had been flying on shorter routes. (the F100s were never delivered due partly to back up orders from American Airlines and US Airways), and announced a 52% increase in flights from Kansas City after Eastern Airlines decides to abandon Kansas City as a hub leaving a number of gates open for Braniff.
In October, they made it official by consummating a merger with BIA Acquisitions. In December, Braniff placed orders for 50 new Airbus A320-200 aircraft from GPA Leasing in Ireland, with an option for 50 more. A total of 100 aircraft.
In 1988, the main HUB of Braniff became Kansas City in the Fall, and D/FW was reduced to two gates (17 & 18 in Terminal 2W). Although, it still maintained "mini-hub" status at D/FW with 9 cities served. The other gates were sold to American Airlines or leased to Northwest, United, Mexicana and Pan Am. The airline was now flying to over 45 cities with three hubs: Kansas City, Orlando and D/FW.
1989 - THE LAST YEAR
In December 1988 and all through 1989, Braniff leased eleven more Boeing 737-200s from American Airlines (which they had received through the Air California merger), BIA-COR and Polaris V leasing. One 737, leased from American, was a 737-200A.
Florida Express ceased using the name Florida Express, and all assets became property of Braniff, Inc. Braniff announced acquisition of 28 jet parking positions at Kansas City.
In April, Braniff was flying to 40 locations, 39 domestic, one in the Bahamas. It had a fleet of 57 aircraft ( 24 B727-200s, 14 B737-200s and 18 BAC-111s)
Through the rest of the summer, Braniff went on a "loan spree" borrowing money from: Singer-link, Bank of America, Airbus Service Company, Inc., European American Bank, GPA Ireland and Columbia Savings and Loan. Chodorow and Cohen, allegedly, made off with this money sealing Braniff II's fate. The first Airbus A320 was delivered in July, 1989. N901BN would be only one of two A320's Braniff would fly. Braniff took delivery of four more A320s in September.
For the second time, Braniff filed for Chapter 11 on September 28th.
Braniff Inc. (Braniff II) stayed open until 1998 with Joe Mitchell and Heather Wyman handling the liquidation of all assets, paying off creditors and paying former employees. Heather Wyman was given the final title of Chairman and CEO of Braniff Inc.
If greed played a tiny role in Braniff Airways shutdown in 1982, and a bigger role in the shutdown of Braniff II, then it played THE STARRING role in the conception of "Braniff III." Jeffery Chodorow, with Scot Spencer, (both of whom bought Braniff II from Jay Pritzker) defrauded thousands of people and conned corporations left and right while burying the Braniff name firmly and finally into the mud.
The operation was set up at Dallas/Fort Worth in 1991. Braniff III leased a hanger, ironically, across from the old "Braniff Place" World Headquarters. They bought Austin-based "Emerald Airlines," which was bankrupt, and absorbed their three DC-9-14s.
With two original Braniff 727s, N406BN and N409BN, and eight leased 727s, Braniff III operated scheduled services from D/FW Airport and New York. (Chodorow was running the airline from his two New York restaurants). They painted one former-Emerald Air DC-9, and operated it on Nassau flights. At least 800 employees (perhaps over 1,000) worked for Braniff III, mostly former Braniff employees from Braniff Airways or Braniff, Inc.
Chodorow quickly put Braniff into bankruptsy in 1992 making off with millions. He was jailed for a short period, but his pal Scot Spencer got a longer sentence. Chodorow was involved in the NBC series, "The Restaurant," in 2002, which is bringing him more publicity than he wanted.
"In 1996, Jeffrey Chodorow, former Braniff International Airlines owner and board chairman pleaded guilty to two felony counts that charged him with impeding the Transportation Department's airline continuing fitness program and obstructing enforcement of aviation statutes. Chodorow received four months in jail and four years of supervised release for comparable offenses. Chodorow was ordered to pay $1.25 million in restitution to the estate, plus a $40,000 fine. Chodorow was accused of concealing the continuing involvement of Braniff executive Scot Spencer in the management of the airline, after the DOT banned Spencer from the company. Braniff ceased operations in 1992 and left 20,000 passengers without transportation and lost more than $1 million in ticket payments, and banks and other creditors were out $14 million. He only spent FOUR months in jail because he claimed his 10-year-old son (who allegedly had "Tourettes Syndrom") could not live without him."
They also tried to sell the remains to a fledgling carrier named "Skybus" in 1992. "Skybus" was the brain-child of a former Pan American pilot. The New York Times Article from 1992:
"August 12, 1992
COMPANY NEWS; SKYBUS PRESIDENT WILL MAKE BID FOR BRANIFF AIRLINES
James Dent, president of Skybus, which has yet to put a plane in the sky, said yesterday that he would bid $825,000 for Braniff Airlines. Mr. Dent said he intended to use Braniff's operating certificate to fly a low-cost, no-frills shuttle between Florida and New York. Skybus will offer a $99 one-way fare with no reservations. Mr. Dent, a former Pan American World Airways pilot, said he was awaiting assurances from the Federal Aviation Administration and the Transportation Department that the certificate was current and usable. Skybus, formed in February, includes 100 primary investors that include former employees from Pan Am, Eastern and Midway. To get Skybus up and flying will take an additional $1.5 million, Mr. Dent said. Last week, a New York entrepreneur, John Catsimatidis, who owns Capitol Air Express, offered $750,000 for Braniff. The Federal Bankruptcy Court in New York gave Mr. Dent until today to make his bid. Braniff stopped flying last month, saying that fare wars destroyed its business.
The bid was never placed, and "Skybus" never took off.
Braniff International Airlines, Inc. should have never happened...at least not with Chodorow and Spencer "Minding the Store."
A reader of the Braniff Pages, "Pastel Jet," sent us the full legal story (23 pages) on "The Smoking Gun" website.
Irma Ellis, who had worked for all three Braniffs became the liquidation officer for Braniff III. The name "Braniff," its logos, servicemarks, paint schemes and trademarks were aquired by a trust in New York where it it resides today.
Bill Jackson is the first person to set up a website devoted to Braniff in 1995. However, he goes missing in 1997, and has not updated his page since.
"The Braniff Pages" goes on-line on September, 1998 at the request of John Paul Braniff, Sr. It is redesigned on January 1, 1999 with a complete history from 1927-1992.
In December, 1999, two more Braniff sites go up. One run out of New York City, and the other by Carlos Yudica in Miami.
2000 and beyond...
In March 2001, the FIRST annual Braniff reunion (for all departments) was held at Lonesome Dove Ranch North of D/FW. Larry Hutton, Roland Upton and Joe Mitchell set up the event. The turnout was over 600, and it was aired on the 6pm news.
In the Spring of 2001, a non-profit employee database website reached "up and running" status with pictures from the 2001 Braniff Reunion.
In August of 2001, "The Braniff Pages" celebrated its 4 year anniversary. (Many thanks to the hundreds and thousands of people who have made it a success!)
On September 11th 2001 THE WORST use of commercial aviation took place. Islamic Terrorists seized two trans-continental Boeing 767s from United and American and flew them into the "Twin Towers" of "The World Trade Center" killing all passengers, crew, occupants of The trade Center and hundreds of valiant Police and Firefighters.
On the same day, two more aircraft were hijacked. An American B757 was crashed into the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., and a United B757 was hijacked over Ohio and crashed near Pittsburgh. The same Islamic Terrorist Group linked to the middle east caused these incidents as well.
September 2001, Harding Luther Lawrence (Braniff president 1965-1980) was inducted into the Oklahoma Aviation Hall of Fame.
Lawrence was born in Oklahoma.
- 16 January 2002, Controversial Ex-President Harding L. Lawrence dies at his multi-million dollar Villa on the Exclusive Island of Mustique. See story below...
Personal Photo from Martha Leonard "Pat" Zahrt
Harding is in the middle leaning over
Ex-Braniff President Harding L. Lawrence dies.
When Harding L. Lawrence took over Braniff in 1965, he changed the airline, and perhaps, the airline industry itself forever.
Mr. Lawrence, who influenced Braniff for 15 years, died on the 16th of January at his Villa on the Very Private Island of Mustique. He was laid to rest on the Island on the following Sunday with only close family in attendance.
Lawrence was brought in to Braniff in 1965 after Troy Post of "GreatAmerica Corporation" bought the airline. He resigned in 1980, after economic pressures and mounting debt.
Some comments from our readers on Mr. Lawrence:
"THE 20th century visionary of style and class for commercial
aviation,worldwide. It was a distinct privilege to serve as an officer
with Harding during the mid and late 70's. He defined , demanded, and delivered "customer service " like no Airline before or since. We were all proud to be identified with his standards for our airline, if not always with his methods of instruction!
I was with Braniff from 1973 thru 1979 , beginning as Director, Marketing Analysis and completing my tenure as Staff Vice President, Market Planning. Those 7 years proved to be the best learning experience of my 32 year aviation career."
-Braniff Vice President
"Small, stodgy and poorly run are fightin' words to most Braniff aficionados
as the Dallas based carrier was an International Carrier with consistent
profits pre-Harding Lawerence.
But Harding gave us Flying Colors, Pucci
Uniforms, the infamous Air Strip, The Concorde, Braniff World Headquarters at
DFW, Fat Albert, the Calders and more than anything else, STYLE!
turned the aviation industry upside down, Harding also built the coffin that
Braniif was placed into by overexpansion and some rather questionable
accounting procedures that eventually led to bankruptcy. It is said that
during the initial days of deregulation if someone told Harding Lawerence to
go to hell, he'd file a route application!
So long to a true industry
pioneer who leaves this world a little more colorful by his contributions!"
Thanks to Business Analyst and Reporter David Johnson for letting us know!
- 12 May 2002, The 2nd Braniff Reunion took place at Lonesome Dove Ranch. Hundreds of ex-employees gathered for the 20th Anniversary of Braniff's First shutdown in 1982. Despite that sad memory, The Braniff Family lives on and continued to celebrate that day.
Braniff 737 acquired from Air California via American. It is painted in an expermental paint scheme. This was nicknamed "The Reebok" scheme because it looked like a tennis shoe.
Notice "BI" is back on the tail
This was applied in Braniff II's last year, 1989.
Photo Braniff, Inc. and Matt McPhee
Former Braniff Airbus 320 N901BN
Picture taken by a US Airways employee in 2006 during a heavy check
America West aquired N901BN and just painted over the Braniff titles
US Airways has aquired the former America West plane and is planning to repaint it
During the paint removal in January 2006, they found the original Braniff titles.
Acquired from American Airlines/Air California.
This was one of the very first planes
re-painted in the 1977 "Ultra" Scheme.
Braniff III 727-100 Series
(Earlier version of the 727)
The short-lived Braniff III
leased any plane they could.
This unknown 727 is painted
with original 1965 Braniff titles
which Braniff III brought back in 1991.
Braniff III DC-9-14
Painted in a solid color blue
Braniff III bought Austin based
"Emerald Air" and its three DC-9s.
This DC-9 was the only one put in service.
It was sold to a Mexican carrier in 1993.
Another View of
Braniff III's DC-9-14
This DC-9 was the only one put in service.
This photo was probably taken in the Dominican Republic.
(Notice the Lockheed Electra Tail to the left!)
Painted in a "never used" Purple Ultra for
for Braniff III.
photos on this page are provided by: Joe H. Mitchell, Irma (Jenson) Ellis, Heather Wyman, Pat Zahrt, George W. Cearley Jr., Boeing/McDonnell Douglas Aircraft Co., British Aerospace Coporation (BAC-BAE), The Dallas Historical Society, UTD, The "Clipped B's", John Paul Braniff, Sr., Mo McMahanon, John McFarlane, Wanda Brown, Diane Muse, C.R. Smith, Chuck Beard, Marv and Carol Degroote, The Braniff
Family, thebranifffamily.org, Carl and Carrie Shea and Watts Communications' Private Braniff Collection.