In 1929, Juan Trippe, president of Pan American Airways, was competing for the lucrative airmail contract for Puerto Rico. (At that time, holding an airmail contract was virtually the only way for a U.S. airline to stay in business.) His competitor, West Indian Aerial Express, was already operating on the line and competing for the contract as well. Trippe’s cozy relationship with the postmaster general resulted in him winning the route, and West Indian closed down soon thereafter. “While we were developing an airline in the West Indies,” its owner said, “our competitors had been busy on the much more important job of developing a lobby in Washington.”
It’s still the same old story.
Source: T. A. Heppenheimer, Turbulent Skies: The History of Commercial Aviation (New York: John Wiley, 1995).