History Of Arrow Air


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History Of Arrow Air

Arrow Air was founded in 1950 by the visionary aviation pioneer, George Batchelor and it was among the oldest air carriers in the U.S. continuing to operate under the same, originally registered name.

A key component in the South Florida community for more than 57 years, Arrow was the largest U.S. registered air cargo carrier based at Miami International Airport, providing comprehensive cargo logistics services.

Arrow Air, operated under the trade name ARROW CARGO provided scheduled air cargo logistics services to and from, and between the United States, Central and South America, and the Caribbean. Arrow employed nearly 450 people at its Miami headquarters and 250 in direct, company operated stations throughout the Americas region.


Arrow Cargo’s comprehensive market coverage provides overnight, airport to airport service to more than 20 destinations in the Americas. Providing direct flights to more than 20 destinations, Arrow operated over 60 flights each week to and from Central and South America, and the Caribbean. Arrow Cargo’s services were provided to more than 3,500 customers worldwide, serving international and domestic freight forwarders, integrated carriers, passenger and cargo airlines, the U.S. Department of Defense and the United States Postal Service.

Arrow Cargo’s airside facilities at Miami International Airport boasted 67,000 square feet of refrigerated warehouse capacity for our perishable shipping clients and over 155,000 square feet of dry cargo capacity. Arrow Cargo operated sales offices in Europe, Canada, Asia, and the Pacific Rim.

The catalyst to Arrow’s performance is a fleet of all cargo aircraft. Expanding upon the highly reliable legacy fleet of DC-10s, Arrow was granted FAA Certification in May of 2009 to add the B-757-200 aircraft to the airline’s operating specifications. The addition of the B-757 aircraft provides Arrow an improved mix of cargo capacity, assuring Arrow’s ability to address client needs. Arrow Air transporting more than 1,200,000 LBS of freight per day throughout 2008.

Arrow Air filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on July 1, 2010. The company shut down all scheduled service operations and ceased flying and plans to liquidate all assets. The company reported as much as $500 million in debt. Arrow Air Holdings Corp. also sought protection. The bankruptcy was filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Miami, Florida.


“After exhausting all viable potential purchasers and investors, the debtors made the difficult decision to cease scheduled service operations in order to preserve the existing value of their estates,” Doug Yakola, chief restructuring officer of Arrow Air, said in court papers. Arrow and Arrow Air Holdings Corp. emerged from bankruptcy in June 2004 through a confirmed plan of reorganization.

Arrow is “maintaining the airline operating authorities and the potential for undertaking charter flying in the event a potential purchaser can be consummated in Chapter 11,” Yakola said. The case is In re Arrow Air Inc., 10-28831, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of Florida (Miami).


Arrow Air founder George E. Batchelor was born of Native American ancestry in Shawnee, Oklahoma in 1901. He became a pilot, and the loss of his first wife and son in a plane crash. This event did not stop him from moving to Compton, California, in 1947 and establishing Arrow Air.

The carrier established its base at Torrance Municipal Airport, Lomita, California, from where it operated Douglas DC-3's on passenger and cargo services within the State. The airline stopped scheduled operations in 1953 in what Batchelor saw as an anti-competitive regulatory environment.

However, Batchelor continued leasing aircraft, often with crews, to other small airlines. Batchelor moved Arrow Air to South Florida in 1964. Considered a pioneer in both south Florida's aviation industry and in the Latin American air cargo market, Batchelor would amass a considerable fortune and donate much of it to homeless and children's causes before dying in July 2002.

On May 26, 1981, Arrow Air relaunched as a charter airline under Miami's Batchelor Enterprises, whose aviation operations included fixed-base operator (FBO) Batch Air and International Air Leases, Inc., Arrow's parent company. (Batch Air eventually became owned by an employee group and was sold to Greenwich Air in 1987 for more than $30 million.) Arrow added scheduled services in April 1982, beginning with California-Montego Bay. 

Low fares were causing the company to lose money. In October 1984, it canceled several routes, including Tampa-London. At the same time, the company reoriented its route structure from an east-west alignment to a north-south one, reported Aviation Week & Space Technology. San José, Puerto Rico, where the company was building a new hub, was the center of the scheduled network, and by the end of 1985 Arrow Air was connecting the destination with Montreal, New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Baltimore, Orlando, and Miami. 

In 1985, more than one million people flew Arrow to 245 destinations in 72 countries. Arrow was operating McDonnell Douglas DC-10 and McDonnell Douglas DC-8 aircraft. Like other start-ups, Arrow contracted some functions to other airlines. United Airlines trained its crews in Denver, and Florida Air supplemented Batch-Air's maintenance work. The company was approved for military charters in 1984, and in October 1985 won a $13.8 million contract with the Department of Defense. 

This accounted for only a small segment of Arrow's revenues. Most of its business came from scheduled service from Canada and the East Coast to Puerto Rico and Mexico. Commercial charters accounted for another 20 percent or so. In carrying out its military flights, the airline experienced a large-scale disaster and its first fatal accident. 

On December 12, 1985, one of the company's McDonnell Douglas DC-8s crashed after takeoff in Gander, Newfoundland, killing 248 soldiers of the 101st Airborne Division and eight of Arrow's flight crew personnel. The flight had originated in Cairo and had taken on fuel in Gander after stopping in Cologne, West Germany. The accident resulted in a great deal of unfavorable media coverage and government scrutiny for the airline. 

Arrow filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization on 11 February 1986, laying off 400 employees. However, operations continued. Richard Haberly was named president of Arrow Air in 1987. Arrow's wet lease business—the practice of hiring out planes complete with crews and fuel—began to pick up again. 

In 1989, Arrow began leasing a McDonnell Douglas DC-8 to Lot Polish Airlines for a Warsaw-New York-Chicago route. It also provided a plane to the Airline of the Marshall Islands. In early 1991, Arrow was again carrying U.S. troops, this time for the military buildup preceding the war in the Persian Gulf. Arrow boasted a 98 percent on-time rate and a high degree of customer loyalty.  

Rates for Latin American cargo fell 15 percent in the early 1990s as U.S. passenger airlines United Airlines and American Airlines paid increased attention to that market. After a few profitable years, Arrow posted losses in 1992 and 1993. Richard Haberly was succeeded as Arrow president in June 1994 by Jonathan D. Batchelor, son of chairman and company founder George Batchelor. In the mid-1990s, Arrow's fleet numbered 18 aircraft--McDonnell Douglas DC-8's and Boeing 727's (two of which were configured for passengers). Many of the planes were acquired from bankrupt Eastern Airlines. The company dropped the Boeing 727's and began leasing Lockheed L-1011 widebody jets in 1996, when its fleet numbered just nine planes. By this time, charters for other airlines were accounting for half of Arrow's business. 

Market conditions were not Arrow's only worries. The FAA grounded Arrow in March 1995, charging the carrier had improperly documented maintenance. A company spokesman countered that the grounding was unfair and was related simply to the FAA's request that Arrow print out a hard copy of its fleet records, which were stored electronically. 

Company officials blamed the affair on a disgruntled employee who had been fired for theft. Arrow contracted other carriers to handle its business during the crisis. British Airways, for example, handled the route between Columbus, Ohio, and Glasgow, Scotland. Arrow also laid off 368 of its 587 employees. During the shutdown, Arrow lost $3.5 million, plus another $1.5 million in FAA fines. The FAA allowed the company to begin flying cargo again in June 1995. 

Soon, Arrow was carrying more international freight at Miami International Airport than any other carrier. It was connecting San Juan to the Northeast via Hartford, Connecticut; to the Midwest via Columbus, Ohio; and to the Southeast via Atlanta. A restructuring in June 1996 placed Terence Fensome as president and CEO of Arrow Air. Jonathan Batchelor soon took over again as president, but in July 1998 relinquished that role for the positions of chairman and CEO as Guillermo J. "Willy" Cabeza became president and chief operating officer. 

Cabeza had been vice-president of operations at Arrow. Arrow failed to profit from the upswing in the economy in 1997. It lost $15.1 million for the year on revenues of $88.3 million. The company had posted losses of $11.3 million in 1996 on revenues of $61.1 million. Arrow started a new weekly service from Houston to Peru and Ecuador in February 1998. Houston was billing itself as a "Gateway to Latin America" to compete with Miami, which handled 85 percent of cargo traffic to the region. Arrow revenues were $87 million in fiscal 1998. 

After a few difficult years, Arrow was acquired by Fine Air Services in early 1999 (the deal was finalized in April) from International Air Leases Inc. for $115 million. Frank and Barry Fine, owners of Fine Air, planned to keep Arrow's brand name viable and continued to emphasize scheduled, rather than charter, cargo service (see Fine Air's DC-8 Cargo Plane Plane Goes Down Just After Takeoff. Unlatched Cargo Latches Is Believed To Be The Cause).

Included in the purchase were 13 McDonnell Douglas DC-8 aircraft, four Lockheed L-1011's, 130 jet engines, and spare parts. The buy gave Arrow access to Fine's 133,000-square-foot refrigerated distribution facility for handling perishables, which made up the bulk of Latin American cargo. 

Unfortunately, Fine Air had its own set of woes resulting from a fatal crash of one of its McDonnell Douglas DC-8's in August 1997. This scuttled Fine's planned $123 million initial public offering. Rising fuel costs, a downturn in the Latin American market, and debt left over from its Arrow Air acquisition combined to make the airline unflyable. 

Fine lost $108 million in 2000 on revenues of $152 million, and another $36 million on 2001 revenues of $148 million. The company filed for bankruptcy on September 27, 2000, and subsequently merged with Arrow Air, Inc., leaving behind the Fine Air Services name. The Fine family would no longer control the company. It emerged from Chapter 11 in May 2002 as a unit of Arrow Air Holdings Corp., a Greenwich, Connecticut, investment group led by Dort Cameron. Revenues were $148 million in 2001, when Arrow had about 800 employees in Miami and another 200 in other locations.

The fleet had grown to 16 McDonnell Douglas DC-8's and two Lockheed L-1011's; the carrier had also begun leasing a pair of McDonnell Douglas DC-10's. The new Arrow was losing $3 million a month, reported Traffic World in early 2002, yet the company aimed to break even by year-end. 

The withdrawal of Grupo TACA's freighters from the market provided Arrow with an opportunity to expand services in Central America with some east-west routes. Arrow re-entered the charter business and diversified geographically via partnerships with airlines such as Atlas Air, Lloyd Aereo Boliviano, and Air Global International (AGI). AGI had been formed in 2001 and leased two Boeing 747's to carry cargo to South America. 

Its routes complemented those of Arrow Air, which acquired AGI in March 2002. Operationally, Arrow Air planned to retire its Lockheed L-1011 by 2003 and replace its dozen McDonnell Douglas DC-8's with McDonnell Douglas DC-10's a few years after. In January 2004 Arrow Air filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, but exited in June 2004 after a bankruptcy court approved its restructuring.

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