American Airlines itself didn't travel overseas at all until later in the jet age. For most of its existence, American Airlines was only a domestic airline within the United States or North America. So until sometime after the early 1960s, American Airlines passengers couldn't cross the Atlantic... Or so everyone thinks. I was right about American Airlines being unable to cross the ocean, but American Airlines itself played a very interesting game.
In 1937, American Export Lines, a United States based shipping company which operated ocean liners across the Atlantic, decided it needed an airline to go with their shipping operations. Thus, American Export Airlines was created in 1937. Operations began in 1942 with Vought-Sikorsky VS-44 flying boats between Foynes, Ireland and New York City. In 1944, C-54 Skymasters were operated by AEA on behalf of the USAAF. In 1945, due to legal requirements, American Export Lines sold AEA to American Airlines. A few months later, it was renamed Amerian Overseas Airlines and became the overseas equivalent of American Airlines. It switched to land based aircraft such as the C-54 Skymaster. In 1946, the Lockheed L-049 Constellation was added to the fleet. The Boeing 377 Stratocruiser joined in 1947. Pan Am however, with its monopolistic and anti-competitive owner, Juan Tripp, tried to end AOA early on as well as TWA. Tripp succeeded in buying AOA and merging all operations into Pan Am by 1950. However, Howard Hughes fought Juan Tripp and prevented him from destroying TWA in the same way and made the corrupt Senator Owen Brewster of Maine (who was paid off by Juan Tripp) lose his career. In 1991, Pan Am went bankrupt. Whatever remained of AOA's transatlantic operations were taken over by Delta Air Lines.
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