Planes, Trains and Automobiles 4

Spantax, by the way, gets its name from Spanish Air Taxis Aero Líneas, which aptly described the company’s earliest services and also explains the unfortunate acronym.  I still think it’s a dreadful choice.  Founder and former Iberia pilot, Rodolfo Bay Wright, may have known a thing or two about flying planes, but he could have done with course on marketing, and I fret to think what would have become of our animals had he been in charge of naming each and every one of them.

        He, along with former stewardess, Marta Estades Sáez, created the company in 1959.

         I may have taken a stab or two, or thirty, at the airline, but it would only be fair to say that before I became acquainted with it in its moribund stage, Spantax came to fly as many as 2,000,000 travelers annually.  Originally served as mainly what its name indicated, a taxi service. Apparently, many of the clients were geologists flying into Africa who were in search of areas to exploit for multinationals.  As the fleet grew and modernized, jets were introduced in the mid-1960s, and with the increased the routes and the passengers.  The 1970s saw the height of the company’s operations as they carried travelers to Europe and North America.  The pride of the flotilla originally was the Convair 990, followed by DC-8s, DC-9s and DC-10s.  I can’t tell you which one I took, all I recall is that comfort was spared at all expense with the intention of using no expense.  I was just glad to make it back to the ground.

       Spantax held its own into the early 80s and even registered solid returns for several years; but rising fuel costs and greater competition dragged it mercilessly down, until it reached a point of no return.  In March of 1988, it ceased activities.

            Spantax did have its share of tragedies, probably at a time when air travel even among big names was slightly less safe, to be fair.  The biggest by far took place in the Los Rodeos Airport in Tenerife, where a Convair 990 plunged just after takeoff making in one of the deadliest Spanish airline accidents in history.  Los Rodeos, by the way, is no stranger to aeronautic catastrophes.  It was there that this site that two ill-fated 747s, packed to the hilt, met in a horrific runway collision.  It was infamous Pan Am-KLM collision, the worst single commercial crash of all time.

            Spantax also met some fortune.  On one occasion, an air-traffic controllers’ strike inFranceled to a midair collision between an Iberia and Spantax aircrafts – you can now appreciate Reagan’s decision to fire the ones in the States.  TheIberiaflight partially clipped the Spantax wing, but the latter managed to return to Earth safely while the former resulted in the death of all of its passengers. So, I guess the lucky part depended heavily on which plane you were in.

            Little is left of the defunct airline.   Barely a memory.  Aside from a quick entry in Wikipedia, I only found a simple website devoted to its history.  Ironically, it was set up by a foreigner who lives inSpain, not me, and who has taken a nostalgic fondness for it, definitely not me.

            But I know the feeling.

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