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STRATEGY

Archive: Going His Way

The man who brought air travel to the masses.
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Juan Trippe, founder of Pan American Airways, transformed his industry after World War II, when he embarked on a growth strategy that disrupted the orderly -- and profitable -- way airlines had come to do business. In the postwar era, Trippe realized, the democratization of overseas travel was hampered only by high ticket prices. So he proposed dividing planes into two cabins, selling cheaper tickets for "tourist" seating. But rival airline execs balked at abandoning cartel pricing and, through their trade group, got Pan Am bumped from choice routes. Undaunted, Trippe flew planes with tourist seating ($150 round-trip) between New York and Puerto Rico in 1948. The cabins were packed. Four years later, the other airlines adopted tourist-class pricing. Virgin Atlantic founder Richard Branson later wrote in Time: "He took on the entire airline industry and risked his company to see his vision through. You've just got to admire a guy like that."


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Last updated: Jun 1, 2002




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