AIRLINE PIONEER PAN AM SHUTS DOWN
Pan Am Corporation ended 64 years of service Wednesday after Delta Air Lines Inc. withdrew its financial support for the troubled airline.A pioneer of commercial aviation, Pan Am fell victim to its lack of a domestic "feeder" system to complement its valuable overseas routes. The airline filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in January, after years of struggling capped by the Gulf crisis and recession. Founded in 1927, Pan Am began offering regular passenger service the next year between Key West, Fla., and Havana, Cuba. The airline's reputation leaped in the 1930s, when it became the first United States carrier to offer regular overseas flights and became known for its luxurious service. Pan Am sold most of its overseas operations to Delta in October but had hoped to emerge from bankruptcy as a smaller carrier focused on Latin American operations. But those hopes were dashed when Delta said it would not contribute more than the $115 million in financing it already has provided for the new Pan Am. The plan would have given Delta 45 percent ownership of the company, with Pan Am creditors owning the rest. "Today, we will see the end of an airline whose name will be forever forged in American history," Russell Ray, president and chief executive officer of Pan Am, said in a statement. The shutdown puts 11,000 employees out of work worldwide. Pan Am becomes the third major US carrier to fold this year. Eastern Airlines stopped flying in January and Midway Airlines shut down last month. Both airlines were also under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Pan Am had been gradually selling off assets for a decade, beginning with the landmark skyscraper in New York City that still bears its name.