AM (Airmail) Routes—May 1934 through airline deregulation–December 1, 1978
After domestic airmail contracts were voided by President Roosevelt in February 1934, the Army temporarily flew a modified route system until new contracts could be implemented. The revamped airmail route system was inaugurated with the transcontinental route, AM 1 on May 8th. All existing CAM routes were immediately renumbered, some entirely and some in pieces, as ‘revised’ routes. For example, CAM 4 was redesignated in entirety as AM 13. CAM 1 was a different story. The portion of CAM 1 between New York City and Boston was redesignated, AM 18, but the portion of the route from Boston to Bangor
was combined with a new spur from Boston to Burlington and redesignated AM 27. Volume 2 of the AAMC, 5th Edition details each redesignation to include the new contractors.
New airlines, restructured airlines and the old CAM airlines competed for the redesignated routes on a more equal basis. The American Air Mail Catalogue did not identify the period of revised routes until the 7th Edition. In previous editions the AAMC editors merged the two periods with simple but effective work arounds. The AM period ended with airline deregulation in 1978. Collectors identify the succeeding period, lasting until the end of USPS airmail service, First Flight US (FFUS).
For the collector, the first few months of the AM system was typified by short POD announcements and quick start ups by airlines, particularly the airlines previously holding airmail contracts. Therefore, few of the early inaugural flights on the revised routes have official cachets. In general, covers in the May-June 1934 received no official cachets, making them harder to identify and relatively scarce. After July, however, the POD caught up, issuing Bulletins in a timely manner and providing official cachets to celebrate new stops and new routes. After the initial break in period, covers from AM covers are abundant and, except for rare flights, are still affordable for a new collector, or experienced collector expanding horizons to a new area.
Lee Downer, AAMS
American Air Mail Catalogue, 5th Edition
American Air Mail Catalogue, 7th Edition