Western Air Express was founded on July 13, 1925, and merged with Transcontinental Air Transport five years later. The new name became Transcontinental and Western Air (T&WA). In 1939, the airline was purchased by Howard Hughes and expanded to international airline flights in 1946. In 1950, T&WA changed into Trans World Airlines and established main routes from Europe to Asia, to fly as far as Hong Kong. Airline deregulation in 1978 hit TWA hard and the Trans World Corporation became a spin-off, later filing for bankruptcy in 1992. Problems did not improve with the media coverage of the Flight 800 disaster near Long Island, New York, in 1996. The media brought to light the fact that TWA planes were old, the oldest in the fleet, and TWA resorted to purchasing 125 new airliners. TWA was quickly acquired by American Airlines after the purchase of so many planes set the company into a downward spiral of financial problems. The final TWA takeoff was Flight 220 on December 1, 2001.