This story, by Barry Cunningham, aired on June 8, 1989, on WPIX-TV Channel 11. The Trump Shuttle went out of business in 1992. In April 1992, Trump Shuttle ended service, but planes kept flying under a reconstituted company, and the jets were rebadged as the USAir Shuttle starting April 12, 1992.
JACKSON HEIGHTS, QUEENS — A string quartet plays Mozart at the boarding gate. The sparkling wine corks go -- pop! And the Trump Shuttle logo gets some last-minute polish at the LaGuardia Airport terminal.
It’s 6 a.m. and Donald Trump is about to embark on what he will later confess is a giant ego trip — the inaugural flight of the Trump Shuttle from New York to Washington, D.C.
Trump himself glad hands the first passengers boarding the 7 a.m. Washington shuttle, and he greets his new employees, many of whom were on strike against Eastern Airlines, whose shuttle service Trump took over.
A husband and wife, who were crew members on the Trump Shuttle and had worked for Eastern before, told PIX11 they were happy to be in Trump’s employ, which pleased the Donald to no end. “I’m happy to hear that. The husband and wife, I think that’s great. What a beautiful couple.“
Foggy weather forced a 20-minute delay, but the human money machine finally wings off to Washington, and at $99 for one-way ticket, most passengers agreed it’s the only way to fly.
Said one passenger: “I came here because I wanted to see if the Trump ego could get this off the ground. He’s known to do a good job everywhere else. Frankly, so far, I haven't seen it but it will take time.”
Eastern was on a shuttle to oblivion until the high-flying Donald Trump came along, soaring off into a wild-blue yonder of Mozart and Champagne buffets.
The question arises, is this inaugural flight of the Trump Shuttle to the nation’s capital symbolic of Trump’s political ambitions?
“No, it’s not at all. I think that hopefully somebody is going to be able to tale advantage of Japan instead of always being taken advantage of. I just enjoy what I’m doing.
Trump said he will refurbish the entire Shuttle fleet over the next six months at a cost of $2 million per plane.
No sooner does the inaugural flight arrive in Washington’s National Airport than the Pan AM Shuttle announces a lottery-type promotional game to steal the spotlight from Trump’s debut.
“I love competing against Pan Am. If you’ve got to compete, Pam Am is the one you want to compete against."
Asked if having an airline was a boost to his ego, Trump played along.
“Truthfully it was great for the Trump ego,” Trump told PIX11’s Barry Cunningham.