The Rebirth of Pan Am by Martin Shugrue
Arlene Valladares Paz

Former Pan Amers like me know how valued loyalty was to this organization. This quality that I had developed while working at New York Headquarters was honed to its peak in the interim years during which the doors of Pan American World Airways remained officially closed. It was on prayer and faith that I lived on a dream of the day that Pan Am would fly again. Those years, as you may recall were from 1991-1996. For many, these doors were never re-opened, but for me who had the privilege of meeting with and working with Martin J. Shugrue on the second start-up, Pan Am was resurrected.

Dapper, and always wearing something green, this Irishman made his presence felt. At the "Old" Pan Am, there was a great deal of talk of Shugrue, a vice-president at the time who worked under Thomas Acker, the company's president. During those turbulent years, when the company faced its impending demise due to a loss of assets, Marty remained faithful. Somehow, as fate would have it, his loyalty to the company name became intertwined with mine.

In 1991, the doors closed and many of the employees were out. Several of my co-workers had been assigned to Delta as part of the assets transfer. In a show of loyalty some of them had marched back to 200 Park Avenue asking for the doors to be re-opened. Others reported to Delta and remained there. I was out on maternity leave with my first daughter, Kaisha, now 17 years old. I chose not to go over to Delta, but instead extended my maternity leave into an unpaid furlough. In my own words, during these years, "I slept on the papers that Pan Am had entrusted to me". The memories of this great dinosaur overshadowed all of my humble efforts. I only kept hoping and praying that one day this airline would fly again. One day, just like magic, I heard the news about the second start-up.

I had no knowledge of the activities that transpired behind closed doors during those years. I was only told that the reality of the second start-up was made possible through the efforts of Martin J. Shugrue who had managed to purchase the Pan Am logo out of the bankruptcy proceedings. He had sought investors, and was successful. One of the main investors was Chuck Cobb, financier, and owner of Chalk airlines. As a result of this partnership, Shugrue's efforts saw fruition in the opening of The "New" Pan Am.

With Miami as the new headquarter base, in 1996 the company reopened its doors. Once again, I applied and was accepted. In this year I reported back to work. Was I foolish in waiting for this day? Only time will tell. I only know that the closure that I needed was brought about by waiting and being a part of this second-start up of Pan Am.