Donald Trump’s airline went from opulence in the air to crash landing
By Matt Viser GLOBE STAFF MAY 27, 2016
When Donald Trump’s new airline, the Trump Shuttle, launched on a summer day in 1989, tuxedoed waiters with white gloves passed out smoked salmon, honey chicken skewers, and chocolate truffles. It was early in the day, but champagne flowed at Logan Airport.
After a string quartet rested its bows, Trump took the microphone and struck a discordant note: He railed against Pan Am, his rival in the shuttle business. He suggested Pan Am’s flights were unsafe, that the company was strapped for cash and couldn’t spend as much to maintain planes as Trump Shuttle.
“I’m not criticizing Pan Am,” Trump said that day. “I’m just speaking facts.”
Executives at Trump’s newest venture were aghast. In a highly competitive business, one in which Trump had no experience, the new boss had tossed decorum to the wind and made claims he had no evidence to support.
“We said, ‘Donald, don’t ever do that again,’ ” recalled Henry Harteveldt, who was the company’s marketing director. “It was wrong. We had no proof to back that up. And there’s an unwritten rule in the airline business that you don’t attack someone else’s safety record. There but for the grace of God go I.”