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BIG AIR BASE HERE

DATE OF EVENT: Wednesday, June 17, 1931

DATE PUBLISHED: Wednesday, June 17, 1931, in The Kansas City Times

Editor’s note: When Transcontinental and Western Air, later to become Trans World Airlines, moved its headquarters to Kansas City in the 1930s, it brought only 250 employees. At its peak, it would employ nearly 10,000 local workers and contribute more than $200 million to the city economy every year. Bankruptcy, the headquarters’ move to St. Louis and an eventual sale to American Airlines would reduce its local influence, but for decades TWA was Kansas City’s “hometown airline.”

Transcontinental & Western Air, Inc., coast-to-coast air mail, passenger and express operator, today announced from New York its decision to move its general offices and operating base to Kansas City for the sake of increased efficiency through the most central location possible on its cross-country system.

The establishment of the air line organization headquarters here means an added annual payroll of approximately 1 million dollars, which probably will become larger as time goes on, and an addition to the city of about 250 employees and their families.

The T. & W. A. base here will be at the Kansas City Airport, the organization to utilize the office building and hangar of the old Goebel Flying School, and, in addition, to construct another hangar, large enough to meet its requirements for the storage of multi-engined aircraft.

The hangar to be erected, according to the plan presented to the board and accepted, is to be constructed by the city at a cost of about $100,000. The building will then be rented to the air line at an annual rental of 5 per cent of its cost. The company will rent the present Goebel buildings from the flying school company and the ground from the city.

Bringing the air line base to Kansas City, as announced today, is considered one of the outstanding accomplishments of the Chamber of Commerce Industrial Committee of Nine. Negotiations for the removal of the general headquarters have been going on quietly several months between the line’s officials and Lou E. Holland, executive director of the chamber, who has been the committee’s representative from the beginning.

Kansas City, moreover, has not been alone in its efforts to get the air base. St. Louis, Tulsa, Wichita and Amarillo not only bid for it, but even went so far as to offer amounts as high as $300,000, coupled with free ground and reduced labor costs.

In his negotiations with the directors of the airline, Mr. Holland, on behalf of the committee, flatly refused to consider as feasible the matter of cash, either as a loan or an outright gift, to bring the headquarters here. He believed the location of this community, now a division point in the center of the line’s activities, was paramount in considering the point of general headquarters. …

T. & W. A. is the result of an operating merger formed of Transcontinental Air Transport, Western Air Express and the Pittsburg Aviation Industries Corporation …

Prior to last October, T. A. T. and W. A. E. operated here as passenger carriers through separate companies. The former operated a full transcontinental air-rail route, while W. A. E. from Los Angeles to Kansas City. The operating merger was at the time bids were sought for the new central coast-to-coast air mail system through Kansas City and was accomplished through the fact that both lines had a substantial claim to the route through priority rights. It finally was agreed with the post office department to enter into a merger of the route’s operations, although both original systems remain yet as individual companies …

When night flying starts eastward from Kansas City, it is believed the heaviest air mail loads of the country will pass through here.

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