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Flying the flag: The rise, fall and future of flag-carrier airlines

For any aviation geek, the sight of aircraft tails lined up at Los Angeles International Airport’s Tom Bradley International Terminal is iconic. At any given moment you can see liveries from around the world including British Airways, Singapore Airlines, Emirates and Air France widebodies lined up together.

For countries around the world, big and small, having an airline of their own has served as a symbol of national pride and economic strength. That’s why so-called “flag carriers” flourished during the early days of commercial aviation. Showing the flag around the world, on routes to big cities like New York or London, was a matter of prestige.

But flag carriers, once seen as global agents of influence, have lost their clout in recent decades, and some have ceased flying altogether. In the United States, there isn’t even a designated flag carrier.


In many ways, the definition of a flag carrier is what it appears. It’s an… Read More

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