Built in 1966, the EDEN apartment building in the Budapester Straße provided lodging for large numbers of pilots and stewardesses employed by Pan American Airways. Their preferred place of meeting was the very exclusive Pan Am Lounge.
The name Pan Am once stood for the uninhibited spirit of optimism, the pioneering character and the avant-garde of design. No other airline has ever denoted coolness, a sense of chic and what it means to travel in style to the same extent.
Founded in Florida in 1927 as America’s first international airline, the concern was already able to boast of operating a transatlantic connection with scheduled flights from New York to Lisbon in 1939. After the end of the Second World War, the airline moved up to occupy the number one position in passenger satisfaction globally and was proud to command a worldwide network of flight connections.
In 1955, Pan Am managed to pull off the so-called Jet-Coup by ordering twenty Boeing 707s as well as twenty-five Douglas DC-8s, “directly from the drawing board” as it were. On October 26, 1958, the first passenger jet left New York under the Pan Am banner. The flight time for the journey to Paris was shortened by a sensational 8.5 hours. All other airlines were forced to make the grade; the jet-age had begun.
Pan Am acquired particular significance in Germany in the wake of the Second World War. Due to Berlin’s status as defined by the Four Power Agreement, the flag bearers of the three allied Western powers, Pan Am, BEA (now British Airways) and Air France became the sole providers of civil air traffic between West Berlin and the remaining territory of the Federal Republic of Germany.
Riding upon the rapidly swelling air traffic wave of the time, the airline was able to reap the most handsome profits of its history; juicy growth rates for the years to come seemed as good as guaranteed. As the first of twenty-five newly ordered jumbo jets started for its very first flight in 1969, however, the strength of the US economy had begun to falter. America’s citizens were travelling less and less; Pan Am began operating in the red for the first time and would never entirely recover.
After the fall of the Berlin Wall, Berlin – and, with it, Pan Am – lost its special status. Effective as of October 28, 1990, Lufthansa assumed the air rights for all seventy-four daily national Pan Am flights within Germany. On November 2, 1991, a Pan Am operated plane left the runway for a direct flight from Berlin to New York for the last time. The machines continued to be used by Delta Air Lines and were only gradually repainted.
Pan Am was gone, but not forgotten!