Essair Airways

Essair (short for Efficiency, Safety, and Speed in the Air[1]) was incorporated in 1939, the first airline authorized by the federal Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) to fly as a "local service" air carrier in the United States. It changed its name to Pioneer Air Lines in 1946 and served destinations in New Mexico and Texas. Pioneer and was acquired by and merged into Continental Airlines in 1955.

Ceased operations1955
Fleet size4
DestinationsSee Pioneer Air Lines below
HeadquartersHouston, Texas, United States
Pioneer Air Lines Douglas DC-3 in 1948

An unrelated commuter airline using the name Pioneer Airlines operated in Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming during the late 1970s through 1980s with Beechcraft 99 and Fairchild Swearingen Metroliner turboprop aircraft.[2][3] Besides operating as an independent air carrier, this second version of Pioneer also provided feeder connecting flight services on behalf of Continental Airlines as a Continental Commuter air carrier at the Denver airport (DEN) via a code sharing agreement with Continental from 1983 through 1986.


Founded by Major William F. Long[4][5] (who owned the Dallas Aviation School and Air College), Essair began a temporary service between Houston and Amarillo, via Austin, San Angelo, Abilene, and Lubbock. On July 11, 1944, the Civil Aeronautics Board agreed that an experiment in subsidized short-haul and local scheduled air service should be conducted. The experiment involved the establishment of a new airline category, known as "feeder" or "local service" air carriers. On August 1, 1945, Essair became the first airline to fly under the new classification, with a temporary certificate.[6] and operated Lockheed Model 10 Electra twin prop aircraft on its routes within Texas.[7]

Pioneer Air LinesEdit

The airline's name became Pioneer Air Lines in 1946. The Electras were replaced by Douglas DC-3s with 23 of the type being used between 1946 and 1953.[8] New routes to several cities in New Mexico were added in 1948. From June 1952, nine Martin 2-0-2 unpressurised airliners were operated by Pioneer after they were purchased from Northwest Airlines. Davies (and Killion) says the federal CAB forced Pioneer to revert to the DC-3s in 1953 however, per the February 1955 Official Airline Guide (OAG), the carrier reintroduced the 36-seat Martin 202's back on some flights. The 202's were known as "Pioneer Pacemaster" aircraft.

In April 1949 Pioneer scheduled flights to 24 airports in New Mexico and Texas from Albuquerque and El Paso in the west to Dallas and Houston in the east. In February 1955 it flew to 21 airports; later that year it was acquired by and merged into Continental Airlines.[9]

Destinations in 1953Edit

The November 1, 1953 Pioneer Air Lines system timetable listed the following 22 destinations:[10]

Pioneer also previously served El Paso, TX, Las Cruces, NM, Las Vegas, NM, and Roswell, NM, from 1948 to 1951.[11][12][13]

Following its acquisition of Pioneer, the April 1, 1955, Continental Airlines timetable contained this message: "Now...ONE GREAT AIRLINE to serve you better! Pioneer Air Lines, serving 22 cities over 2000 route miles in Texas and New Mexico, officially becomes part of the greater Continental Air Lines system and opens a new era in air transportation for the Southwest!"[14] However, by late 1963 Continental had ceased serving a number of the destinations previously served by Pioneer as the routes were transferred to Trans-Texas Airways.[15]


See alsoEdit


  • Gradidge, Jennifer (2006). DC-3 The First Seventy Years. Air-Britain (historians) Ltd. ISBN 0-85130-332-3.
  • Marson, Peter J. (2001). The Lockheed Twins. Air-Britain (Historians. ISBN 0-85130-284-X.


  1. ^ Texas Historical Commission. "Major W. F. Long (1894-1976)". Retrieved 25 May 2018.
  2. ^, April 1, 1981 Official Airline Guide (OAG), Denver flight schedules & July 1, 1983 Official Airline Guide (OAG), Albuquerque flight schedules
  3. ^, Aug. 1, 1983 & May 1, 1985 & Jan. 15, 1986 Pioneer Airlines route maps
  4. ^ Solomon, Stan (2008). Airlines for the Rest of Us: The Rise and Fall of America's Local Service Airlines. iUniverse. pp. 7–8. ISBN 978-0595484430. Retrieved 25 May 2018.
  5. ^ Texas Historical Commission. "Major W. F. Long (1894-1976)". Retrieved 25 May 2018.
  6. ^ FAA HISTORICAL CHRONOLOGY, 1926-1996 Archived 2008-06-24 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ Marson 2001, p.154
  8. ^ Gradidge, 2006, p. 235
  9. ^ Serling, Robert J., Maverick: The Story of Robert Six and Continental Airlines (ISBN 0-385-04057-1), Doubleday & Company, 1974.
  10. ^ "Pioneer Air Lines system timetable". November 1, 1953.
  11. ^ "Pioneer Air Lines system timetable". October 12, 1948.
  12. ^ "Pioneer Air Lines system timetable". August 1, 1950.
  13. ^ "Pioneer Air Lines system timetable". February 1, 1951.
  14. ^ "Continental Air Lines system timetable". April 1, 1955.
  15. ^ "Continental Airlines system timetable". July 29, 1964.

External linksEdit