Today in Transportation History – March 2, 1932: Costa Rica’s First National Airline is Born

Costa Rica’s first nationally operated airline, Empresa Nacional de Transportes Aéreos (ENTA), was established by an American émigré named William Schoenfeldt. The airline made its debut a little over two decades after the first-ever plane flight in the Central American country had taken place.

When ENTA began operations, it provided only intermittent flight service between Costa Rica’s capital city of San José and various towns throughout the country. This situation changed after Costa Rican pilot Roman Macaya launched a rival national airline, Aerovías Nacionales, in 1934. ENTA responded to its new competitor by starting to offer flights on a scheduled basis. Over the next several years, both ENTA and Aerovías Nacionales helped shape and strengthen the Costa Rican domestic airline network.

When Schoenfeldt stepped down from leading ENTA in 1935, Eric Murray took over for him. It was under Murray’s leadership that ENTA began providing international flights to the cities of David, Panama, and Managua, Nicaragua, in 1936. By 1940, ENTA’s fleet consisted of three Fokker Trimotor airliners; five Ford Trimotor planes; five Travel Air planes; and a Boeing Model 40B-4 aircraft. During that same year, ENTA and Aerovías Nacionales merged their operations. Just a few months later, however, the international airline Transportes Aéreos Centroamericanos – established in Honduras in 1931 – purchased the combined ENTA/Aerovías Nacionales enterprise.

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