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CARRIERS: Green Light

2 minute read

Into the broad bay of Beirut, on whose shores St. George is said to have slain his dragon, among the dirty fishing feluccas off Genoa and Leghorn, past the ruined English mole into Tangier, into Oran and Salonika and Jaffa and many another exotic port, push a string of fat-bellied, black-hulled, matter-of-fact ships with extravagantly alliterative names (examples: Excalibur, Exochorda, Exeter, Excambion). Most have proud six-foot letters on their hulls — AMERICAN EXPORT LINES. Their fore-and after-kingposts, surrounded by a cluster of loading booms like umbrella ribs, point ambitiously to the sky. For two years, American Export’s President William H. Coverdale has also been pointing ambitiously skyward: he wants to start an airline to the Mediterranean and Black Seas.

Last week American Export’s owners pulled off a stunt almost as daring as William Coverdale’s plan. To finance the air service, they launched a $924,000 common stock issue in Wall Street, where money for the soberest of schemes has lately been scarce. A Lehman Brothers syndicate, which offered the 88,000 shares at $10.50 apiece, called the flotation “successful.”

American Export, founded in 1919 and reorganized in 1925, has had as many ups & downs as a ground swell. In its early days it was always near the rocks. Since 1930, Government subsidies have helped keep its books in the black every year. Net of $1,007,213 last year was due largely to Government subsidies, plus the fact that the line’s 18 small ships (none over 9,350 tons) share a virtual monopoly with the Italian Lines on the hemisphere’s second richest trade route.

In future the stubby Ex-boats will carry delicate weather instruments as well as tractors, copper, hides and hemp, marble, oil and tin. The instruments will record weather conditions for Export’s year-old subsidiary—American Export Airlines, Inc. If their data gives as clear a green light as last week’s stock issue, test flights will start next spring with a Consolidated flying boat.

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