Frequent flyers may remember World Airways, a Georgia-based carrier that operated from the late 1940’s through to 2014 and proved a contender for the also-defunct Pan Am Airways. The carrier primarily survived its roughly 60-year career through private flight contracts, having made travel deals with sports teams and even the United States military. World Airways quietly grounded its small fleet of nine craft in 2014 after switching hands numerous times. Though things seemed well and over for the carrier, it appears yet another firm will attempt to breath life into the World Airways brand.
777 Partners is an investment firm with projects mostly in the world of finance, though Ed Wegel, who 777 has named as CEO of the revived World Airway, has a long history in the airline industry. Wegel famously resurrected Eastern Air Lines 25 years after it closed its doors, where he also served as Chief Executive officer until October of 2016. Wegel had worked with Eastern before its closure as a manager. Prior to that he served in various capacities for Atlantic Coast Airlines, Pan American, USAirways Express, and several other carriers. While 777 may lack familiarity with the airline industry, they’ve certainly made up for it by choosing a CEO with decades of experience.
Wegel has outlined World Airway’s future clearly, with the intent to market the brand as a low-cost international carrier. To start, the company will operate with a fleet of Boeing 787 Dreamliners, the same craft recently ordered by both Qantas and EgyptAir earlier this year. World will base its initial operations out of both Los Angeles International Airport and Miami International Airport, though more hubs are likely to follow. The carrier will offer international flights primarily to locations in South America and Asia. Whether or not they have plans to expand to other markets is unclear.
Whether or not the World Airways brand revival will be a success remains unknown. While Wegel may have succeeded with Eastern, there are plenty of other carriers with failed resurrections in recent years. Pan Am has undergone an incredible six attempts to revive the once lauded brand, but all proved unsuccessful. It is evident that brand recognition on name alone is not enough to carry a revival. That said, given Wegel’s experience and success with reviving Eastern, along with World’s switch to a low-cost carrier model, the company has a fair chance at finding its footing.