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  • - You look great.

  • Trump: Everybody have it?

  • Narrator: Things used to be

  • a lot different for Donald Trump.

  • - Mr. Trump, who's your lovely date tonight?

  • This is Melissa.

  • - Hi.

  • Narrator: In the 1980s...

  • Donald Trump was a star.

  • - His name sells.

  • And when you think business, you think Trump.

  • My son, he's 22 years old, and Mr. Trump is his hero.

  • We're from Oregon, and Donald Trump is popular out there.

  • He's my idol.

  • I really respect him, and I think he's amazing.

  • Everything he does seems to turn into gold.

  • Narrator: By 1988, Trump was a major name in real estate.

  • The New York Times called him

  • one of the richest men in the world,

  • with an estimated net worth of $3 billion.

  • And he bought the luxurious Plaza Hotel for $390 million.

  • For Donald Trump, the next logical step

  • was buying an airline.

  • - Yo, Joe!

  • - The Trump Organization was a holding company

  • with various assets.

  • Those assets included hotels, apartment buildings,

  • and other real estate assets.

  • Narrator: That's Henry Harteveldt.

  • Donald Trump hired him as the marketing director

  • for Trump Shuttle.

  • - Mr. Trump thought that having an airline

  • would complement his other travel-related holdings,

  • and that's why he was interested in it.

  • - You can fly clear across the USA.

  • Narrator: In the 1980s, air travel

  • was a completely different ball game,

  • especially if you were flying for business.

  • - The Eastern Air Shuttle,

  • a guaranteed seat without a reservation.

  • Narrator: Shuttle services from airlines like Pan Am

  • and Eastern offered flights between New York,

  • Boston, and Washington that took off every hour.

  • In 1988, a workers' strike at Eastern

  • drove the airline to a halt.

  • - There was an open auction for the shuttle.

  • Several different airlines submitted bids.

  • At the end, it became the Trump Organization

  • and America West, and the Trump Organization prevailed.

  • Narrator: Trump secured $365 million from a consortium

  • of banks to make a bid for the Eastern Shuttle.

  • After a meeting with airline owner Frank Lorenzo

  • at Trump's Plaza Hotel, the deal was done,

  • and Trump Shuttle was born.

  • - How you doing?

  • Have a good flight.

  • Narrator: Trump Shuttle's fleet

  • consisted of 21 Boeing 727s.

  • Trump spent $1 million to refurbish each plane.

  • - We were the first plane out this morning.

  • We were the most successful flight this morning.

  • We had more people than anybody else,

  • and I think we had better service than anybody else.

  • Narrator: Trump Shuttle offered quick flights

  • between three east coast destinations: Logan Airport

  • in Boston, LaGuardia in New York, and Reagan in D.C.

  • - The first week or so

  • was really disorganized because, you know,

  • it was a brand new airline.

  • And the pilots just got it all figured out.

  • It was 64 flights a day between three cities,

  • and, you know, it ran like clockwork.

  • Narrator: Trump's purchase of the Eastern Shuttle

  • created over 1,000 new jobs, many of which were filled

  • by Eastern employees out of work due to the strike.

  • Employees like Rosemary Durant, a Boston-based

  • flight attendant who got a job with Trump Shuttle.

  • - I was a flight attendant with Trump Shuttle

  • from the beginning to the end.

  • I began my career with Eastern Airlines.

  • Towards the end of Eastern Airlines

  • we had the opportunity to bid off

  • to work for the Trump Shuttle.

  • It was strictly a lottery system.

  • It was an opportunity to continue flying,

  • continue getting a paycheck.

  • I had a place to go.

  • I had a job that I loved.

  • I got to continue working.

  • He saved us.

  • - We're gonna really be a good competitor,

  • and I think it's gonna be a lot of fun.

  • Harteveldt: So the primary competitor that we flew against

  • was Pan Am, Pan Am Shuttle, and a very, very fine

  • competitor to have, because Pan Am forced us

  • to bring our A game to the shuttle market.

  • Narrator: In true Trump fashion,

  • he soon went after his competition.

  • - I love competing against Pan Am.

  • If you've got to compete,

  • I mean, if you've got to compete,

  • Pan Am is the one you want to compete against.

  • Narrator: Trump didn't just troll Pan Am

  • at press conferences.

  • He also poached their talent,

  • hiring former Pan Am Shuttle president

  • Bruce Nobles, to run Trump Shuttle.

  • - Safety, everyone says, "Oh, don't ever mention safety."

  • I want to mention safety.

  • To me, it's very important.

  • The safety is number one priority.

  • - There is an unwritten rule in the airline business:

  • you never attack another carrier's maintenance and safety.

  • Mr. Trump attacked Pan Am's maintenance,

  • and that's just something you don't do.

  • Narrator: Trump suggested that Pan Am's

  • financial struggles might jeopardize the airline's safety,

  • and his remarks soon came back to bite him.

  • - And this represents one of the fleet

  • of your new shuttle service from here to where?

  • Watch this, Don.

  • Whoa, my God, whoa!

  • Narrator: In August of 1989 ...

  • a Trump Shuttle flight made an emergency landing in Boston

  • when the plane's front landing gear malfunctioned.

  • No one on-board was hurt, but Trump Shuttle's trouble

  • was just beginning.

  • - Smoke rising from the barracks

  • where the Royal Guard still hold out.

  • Narrator: The invasion of Kuwait in 1990

  • and the subsequent Gulf War sent oil prices skyrocketing,

  • and the United States was on the brink of a recession.

  • - That affected all airlines, not just the Trump Shuttle.

  • People just were not flying.

  • As far as the Trump Shuttle became concerned,

  • the bankers said, "Hey, look,"

  • "this is not financially sustainable."

  • It became clear that the Trump Shuttle

  • would not grow as an airline.

  • Narrator: Trump fired 100 employees.

  • Just 18 months after the Trump Shuttle launched,

  • the airline had already lost $128 million.

  • In 1992, Donald Trump decided it was time to bail.

  • Trump Shuttle's majority stakeholder, Citigroup,

  • started negotiating a sale with US Air,

  • who still saw value in the product.

  • Donald Trump claimed he didn't lose money on the shuttle.

  • He told the Boston Globe, "I'm smart."

  • "I got out at a good time."

  • - It seems like he kind of just washed his hands of it,

  • said the airline business is very tough,

  • and moved on to whatever was next.

  • Narrator: As for Trump Shuttle employees,

  • many of them kept their jobs and transitioned

  • to becoming employees of the newly-named US Air Shuttle.

  • - [David Manley] It really wasn't a failure.

  • I think it was pretty successful.

  • I mean, Trump saved our careers, I mean, absolutely.

  • They really took care of their employees.

  • My wife, who had breast cancer,

  • the CEO of the company, he said, "Hey, any bills"

  • "that aren't covered, just leave it on my desk."

  • I left some bills on those desks.

  • It was like, I don't know, a $30,000 pharmacy bill.

  • You know, that's how I was treated,

  • and so I'm sure that came down from Trump.

  • I don't have anything bad to say.

- You look great.

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What Happened To Donald Trump’s $365 Million Airline?

  • 3 1
    jeremy.wang posted on 2020/03/30
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