Airways Magazine’s website has a great article, American Airlines and US Airways Tie the Knot: A Marriage Made in Heaven or Hell? It is a great summary of the history of both airlines mergers.
Since the beginning the airlines have merged; even storied airlines like AA and USAir are the sum of many. In the 1920’s many airlines started with a single city-pair and a US Postal contract. Charles Lindbergh ran mail from St Louis to Chicago for Robertson Aircraft Corporation, which merged with 81 other airlines to form American. My grandfather managed Yellow Cab Airline, which had a single city-pair, Des Moines to Minneapolis. It was merged with the original Braniff (1920s era) and then Braniff merged with, you guessed it, American. I didn’t learn my grandfathers personal airline history until I was already flying for American.
The more things change the more they stay the same: the modern airline system was born in the 1930s with dependable twins like the DC-3 (featured in my first novel Project 7 Alpha) being flown by two pilots. Great four engined machines plied the skies in the 40’s, 50’s, 60’s and 70’s, with crews of pilots, navigators and flight engineers. We have come full circle; even our largest aircraft at the New American Airlines the 777-300, has two engines and a crew of two pilots. Is this a sign of a return to the glory days of aviation?