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American Overseas Airlines (AOA) was an airline that operated between the United Statesmarker and Europe between 1945 and 1950. It was headquartered in Midtown Manhattan, New York Citymarker.


American Export Airlines (AEA), commonly known as Am Ex, was founded in April 1937 as a wholly owned subsidiary of the shipping company American Export Lines. Transatlantic surveys were done with a Consolidated PBY-4 flying boat and in 1939 AEA placed an order for three Vought-Sikorsky VS-44 flying boats, dubbed 'Flying Aces', named after the parent company's Four Aces. That same year, AEA made an application to the US Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) for routes across the Atlantic from the United Statesmarker to the United Kingdommarker, Francemarker, and Portugalmarker. On July 15, 1940, in spite of strong protests by Juan Trippe, the president of Pan American World Airways (PAA), President Franklin D. Roosevelt gave his approval to AEA for a seven-year temporary certificate to serve Lisbonmarker (Portugal) from New York Citymarker-La Guardia Flying Boat base. Later on, services were also flown to Foynesmarker (Ireland). These services ended in 1944 when AEA started operations on behalf of the US Air Transport Command (ATC), using Douglas C-54 Skymasters mainly between the USA and military bases in North Africa.

AEA could not begin its New York City (USA)–-Foynes (Ireland) flying boat service before June 1942, due in part to vigorous objections from PAA. In 1945, AEA was awarded transatlantic rights, which covered destinations in Northern Europe. The airline subsequently cut its ties with the shipping company. American Airlines was interested in acquiring AEA since it wanted to break into the overseas market - at that time - dominated by PAA. The US CAB approved the acquisition of AEA by American Airlines on July 5, 1945, which led to the formation of "American Overseas Airlines". The AEA name was retained until November 1948 when AEA was fully merged with rest of the AOA operations. The new entity started operations with six C-54's at the end of AEA's ATC contract.

AOA's Flagship Denmark Boeing 377 Stratocruiser

AOA launched its international presence on October 24, 1945, with Flagship New England (N90904), on the route New York Citymarker (USA) to Londonmarker (England UK) via Bostonmarker (USA), Gandermarker (Newfoundland) and Shannonmarker (Ireland).

AOA was acquired by PAA but on May 17, 1950, the US CAB ruled against this merger. President Harry S. Truman, however, overturned the CAB decision, and AOA was merged into the PAA system on September 25, 1950.

Accidents and incidents

On October 3, 1942, AEA's Excalibur (NC41880) crashed on take-off at Botwoodmarker (Newfoundland) when flaps were inadvertently extended to landing position, thus causing the aircraft to stall immediately after lift-off. In the crash, 5 out of the 11-strong crew and 6 out of 26 passengers perished.

On October 3, 1946, AOA's Flagship New England (N90904) crashed into a steep ridge en route from Stephenvillemarker (Newfoundland) to Shannonmarker (Ireland). This plane crash happened 7.1 miles past the departure runway. There were 8 crew and 31 passenger fatalities; no survivors. The crash investigators determined "The action of the pilot in maintaining the direction of take-off toward higher terrain over which adequate clearance could not be gained."



Consolidated PBY-4:
  • Transatlantic (NC18997)
Douglas C-54 Skymaster:
  • (42-107452)
Vought-Sikorsky VS-44:
  • Excalibur (NX41880; later as NC41880)

As AEA and AOA

Vought-Sikorsky VS-44:
  • Excambian (no NX; later as NC41881)
  • Exeter (no NX; later as NC41882)

Douglas DC-3:
  • Helsinki (N25686)
Douglas C-47 Skytrain:
  • (N90907)
  • Nairobi (N90908)

Douglas C-54 Skymaster:
  • Flagship America (N90901); also named Stockholm
  • Flagship Frankfurt (N90902)
  • Flagship Oslo (N90903)
  • Flagship New England (N90904)
  • Flagship Glasgow (N90905); also named Berlin
  • Flagship Copenhagen (N90906); also named Chicago


Douglas DC-4 Skymaster:
  • Flagship Keflavik (N90909)
  • Flagship Shannon (N90910)
  • Flagship Reykjavik (N90911)
  • Flagship Washington (N90912); also named Prestwick
  • Flagship Amsterdam (N90913)
  • (no Flagship name) (N90914)
  • Flagship Gander (N90915)

Lockheed L-049 Constellation:
  • Flagship Sweden (N90921); also named Stockholm
  • Flagship Denmark (N90922); also named Copenhagen and Oslo
  • Flagship Great Britain (N90923); also named Scotland and Oslo
  • Flagship Holland (N90924); also named Amsterdam and Shannon
  • Flagship America (N90925); also named Philadelphia and Copenhagen
  • Flagship Éire (N90926); also named Amsterdam and Chicago
  • Flagship Norway (N90927); also named Detroit and Glasgow

Boeing 377 Stratocruiser:
  • Flagship Scandinavia (N90941); also named Flagship Europe and Flagship Great Britain
  • Flagship Europe (N90942); also named Flagship Great Britain
  • Flagship Holland (N90943); also named Flagship Europe
  • Flagship Ireland (N90944)
  • Flagship Norway (N90945)
  • Flagship Sweden (N90946)
  • Flagship Denmark (N90947)
  • Flagship Scotland (N90948)


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