9/21/1992: Kiwi International Launches Flights

Today in Aviation, Newark-based Kiwi International Air Lines commenced operations in 1992.



September 21, 2023

DALLAS — Today in Aviation, Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR)-based Kiwi International Air Lines (KP) commenced operations in 1992.

The airline was created by several former Eastern Air Lines (EA) employees who found themselves out of work following EA's collapse in 1991.

Kiwi Boeing 727 pictured in MIA in early 1999. Photo: Ken FieldingCC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Highs and Lows

Utilizing a pair of ex-Lufthansa (LH) Boeing 727-200s, initial services saw EWR linked with Atlanta (ATL), Chicago (MDW), and Orlando (MCO). Despite offering a low-fare service, passengers were treated to gourmet meals and a generous 36" legroom.

A year later, Condé Nast Traveler named Kiwi the "Best Airline in America." But by 1994, the carrier was struggling financially, reporting a loss of US$14 million. Several of the airline's top management members were ousted in an attempt to turn around its fortunes. The FAA also grounded a number of KP's 727s for a short time due to poor pilot training documentation.

The airline would join forces with Virgin Atlantic (VS), sharing passengers from VS's transatlantic flights into EWR. It also formed a strategic alliance with Air South, with the two carriers linking 12 Eastern US citifies with 155 daily flights.

Promotional button for Kiwi International Airlines, circa 1994. Diameter 54mm. Photo: RoySmith, Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0


In early October 1996, KP filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, citing rising fuel costs and the instability in the low-cost sector at the time. On October 22, the airline was forced to suspend operations.

Several white knights stepped forward to rescue the troubled airline. In 1997, KP emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy with plans to expand its fleet and network. Sadly, these plans never came to fruition, and in March 1999, Kiwi International was forced to cease operations.

Featured Image: Kiwi International Boeing 727-200 Advanced (N8883Z). Photo: JetPix (GFDL 1.2 or GFDL 1.2), via Wikimedia Commons