US Airways operates hubs in Charlotte, Philadelphia and Phoenix. US Airways also maintains focus city operations at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Washington, DC, McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, Nevada, LaGuardia Airport in New York, and Logan International Airport in Boston. The airline operates the US Airways Shuttle, a US Airways brand which provides hourly service between key Northeastern markets. Regional airline service is branded as US Airways Express, operated by contract and subsidiary airline companies.
US Airways traces its history to All American Aviation Company, a company founded by du Pont family brothers Richard C. du Pont, Alexis Felix du Pont, Jr. and CEO Steven Gardner. Hubbed in Pittsburgh, the airline served the Ohio River valley in 1939. In 1949, the company was renamed All American Airways as it switched from airmail to passenger service. The company was again renamed, to Allegheny Airlines, in 1953.
Allegheny expanded progressively, introducing the Douglas DC-9 in 1966 and absorbing Lake Central Airlines in 1968 and Mohawk Airlines in 1972 to become one of the largest carriers in the northeastern United States and sixth largest airline in the world as measured by passenger boardings.
But with expansion came growing pains: by the 1970s Allegheny Airlines had earned the nickname "Agony Air" due to customer dissatisfaction with the carrier's service.
Allegheny's agreement with Henson Airlines, the forerunner to today's US Airways Express carrier Piedmont Airlines, to provide service under the Allegheny Commuter banner, is generally regarded as the industry's first code-share agreement, a type of service now offered throughout the industry.
USAir was a launch customer for the Boeing 737-300, as the airline needed an aircraft with greater capacity to serve its rapidly growing Florida markets. USAir was the world's largest operator of DC-9 aircraft at the time and approached McDonnell Douglas to negotiate a new airplane design. However, in the late 1970s, the McDonnell Douglas' proposed successor to the DC-9-50 did not suit USAir's requirements. After the negotiations with McDonnell Douglas broke down, Boeing came forward with a proposed variant of the 737. USAir selected the new 737 aircraft, and the company worked closely with Boeing during its development, taking delivery of the first plane on November 28, 1984.
In the early 1990s, USAir expanded its service to Europe with flights to London, Paris and Frankfurt from its four primary hubs. The company formed partnerships, marketing the Trump Shuttle as the "USAir Shuttle" and accepted a large investment from British Airways that started one of the first transatlantic airline alliances. During this period several 767 aircraft were painted in the British Airways livery, but operated by USAir. It also invested in a new terminal at its hub at Pittsburgh.
In 1996, the alliance between USAir and British Airways ended in a court battle, once British Airways announced its intentions to partner with American Airlines. Subsequently USAir rebranded itself to US Airways. That same year, the airline also introduced a single-class subsidiary service known as MetroJet, which competed with low-cost carriers expanding into the East, in particular Southwest Airlines.
On November 6, 1996, just following the re-branding to US Airways, the airline placed an order for up to 400 Airbus A320-series narrow body aircraft, with 120 firm orders at the time of the order signing. At the time, the order was regarded as the largest bulk aircraft request in history. In 1998, the airline followed with an order for up to 30 Airbus A330-series or A340-series wide-body aircraft, with an initial firm order for seven of the A330-300 airliners. These orders enabled US Airways to replace its older aircraft with newer, more efficient aircraft, and it helped with the re-branding and repositioning efforts of US Airways.
In 1997 US Airways bought the remains of Trump Shuttle. US Airways also steadily expanded its flights to Europe through the end of the decade. Although the airline returned to profitability in the mid-1990s, its route network's concentration in the U.S. Northeast and high operating costs prompted calls for the company to merge with another airline.
Beginning in 2000, US Airways started retiring aircraft in an attempt to simplify its fleet to lower costs, replacing many of its older planes with the new A320-family aircraft.
As the largest carrier at Washington-Reagan, US Airways was disproportionately impacted by that airport's extended closure following the September 11 terrorist attacks. The resulting financial disaster precipitated the closure of the airline's MetroJet network, which led to the de-hubbing of the subsidiary's primary operating base at Baltimore-Washington International Airport and the furloughing of thousands of employees. The airline entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy on August 11, 2002, but received a government-guaranteed loan through the Air Transportation Stabilization Board and was able to exit bankruptcy in 2003 after a relatively short period. The airline made major cost reductions during its bankruptcy, but it still encountered higher-than-average per-seat-mile costs. On October 19, 2005, the airline repaid the government-guaranteed loan by refinancing the debt with other lenders.
In early 2003, US Airways management liquidated the pensions of its 6,000 pilots by releasing their pensions into the federal pension program Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation. The company was one of the first major airlines to eliminate pilots' pensions in order to cut costs.
Following a trial run of selling in-flight food in 2003, US Airways discontinued free meal service on domestic flights later that year.
In late 2003-early 2004, US Airways lobbied for lower operating fees at Pittsburgh International Airport, citing its economies of scale as the primary carrier and largest tenant at the airport. US Airways attempted to leverage its adverse cash position and red ink in the years following 9/11 to negotiate better financial terms with the airport. The Allegheny County Airport Authority rejected US Airways' demands for reduced landing fees and lower lease payments, in part due to antitrust and FAA regulations that required the airport operator to extend the same financial terms to all carriers if it accepted US Airways' demands. US Airways threatened to move traffic to rival hubs in Philadelphia and Charlotte, and the airline made good on its threat in November 2004, reducing its flights at Pittsburgh International Airport from primary-hub to secondary-hub status. The airline, led by former America West CEO Doug Parker, continued to demote Pittsburgh International Airport in subsequent years until it became only a focus city airport for the company. Pittsburgh today serves as merely the smallest focus city for Us Airways with 70 flights a day, compared to 2001 when it was a fortress hub with 500+ flights a day with service across the country and to Europe.
In August 2004, US Airways attempted to build a Latin American gateway at Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood, announcing service to 10 cities in Latin America and the Caribbean. The attempt was largely unsuccessful and short-lived, in part due to Fort Lauderdale’s close proximity to American Airlines’ hub at Miami International Airport and its extensive Latin American network. US Airways also began a process of de-emphasizing its hub-and-spoke system to capitalize on direct flights between major eastern airports such as Washington-Reagan, New York-LaGuardia, and Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood. This emphasis on more direct flights has been undertaken by many airlines of late, as an attempt to capitalize on highest-profit routes, and is a system modeled after lower-cost Southwest Airlines' operations, a system (ironically) that most U.S. airlines had used until the mid-1980s.
Fuel costs and deadlocked negotiations with organized labor (chiefly the Air Line Pilots Association, that was traditionally the first group to come to a concessionary agreement) forced US Airways into a second round of Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection proceedings on September 12, 2004. Widespread employee discontent and a high volume of employee sick calls were blamed by the airline for a staff shortage around the 2004 Christmas holiday, a public relations disaster which led to speculation that the airline could be liquidated; the USDOT, however, found that the problems were caused primarily by poor airline management.
By December 2004, US Airways had cut labor costs significantly. Its investment adviser, the Seabury Group, suggested putting the airline up for sale. The following month, US Airways Group and America West Holdings resumed their discussions. On May 19, 2005, both airlines officially announced the merger deal, structured as a reverse takeover. It was a true merger, as neither company acquired the other. Financing for the deal was supplied by outside investors including Airbus S.A.S., an aircraft manufacturing subsidiary of EADS, the European aerospace consortium. Air Wisconsin Airlines Corporation, operator of numerous US Airways Express flights, and ACE Aviation Holdings, the parent company of Air Canada, also bought shares in the combined airline. The merged airline retained the US Airways name to emphasize its national scope, as well as to capitalize on US Airways' worldwide recognition, Dividend Miles frequent flyer program, and Star Alliance membership. On September 13, 2005, America West shareholders voted to approve the merger agreement, and three days later the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Virginia approved US Airways' emergence from bankruptcy, allowing the merger to close on September 27.
Since the merger, US Airways has been headquartered at the former America West corporate offices in Tempe, Arizona, and America West executives and board members are largely in control of the merged company. The company's aircraft have used the US Airways operating certificate since September 2007.
In January 2006, the airline began consolidating its operations under the US Airways brand, and all America West flights became branded as US Airways flights.
In May 2006, the US Airways and America West web sites were merged. The new US Airways web site unites the two brands using graphics and styles reflective of the airline's new livery and services.
In July 2006, US Airways and America West ordered 20 new Airbus A350 aircraft.
The end of 2006 saw US Airways making a bid for competitor Delta Air Lines, which opposed this bid and takeover by US Airways. The final bid was valued at $10 billion but was withdrawn on January 31, 2007, since US Airways failed to secure backing from Delta's creditors. The airline has stated that it will no longer pursue a possible takeover of Delta.
Most pre-merger US Airways aircraft were equipped with Verizon Airfone at every row of seats. Since Verizon ended this service, the airline has deactivated the service and as of 2007, removed the phones or have covered them in all aircraft.
Michael Miller, a member of The Velocity Group, an airline consulting firm, said that he approves of Parker's handling of the merger.
During the night of March 4, 2007, the US Airways and America West computer reservation systems merged. US Airways, which previously used the Sabre airline computer system, switched to the new QIK system, an overlay for the Shares system, which is based on the Amadeus computer reservations system, that had been used by America West. A few of the features from the Sabre system were incorporated into the new joint system, with the most prominent being the continued utilization of the Sabre ramp partition "DECS" for all computer functions related to weight and balance, aircraft loading and technical flight tracking within the company. Former America West employees were fully trained and migrated to the old East system on September 25, 2007.
America West Airlines completely merged into the US Airways certificate on September 25, 2007, which formally ended the America West brand. Former America West employees (including pilots, fleet service personnel, flight attendants and mechanics) remain on their original America West union contracts and have not completely combined work forces with their pre-merger US Airways counterparts. Former America West aircraft still largely fly with their respective crews and use the call sign "CACTUS", while the former pre-merger US Airways crews primarily fly with their respective aircraft and still use the call sign "US AIR". In addition, flights operated using former America West aircraft and crews are numbered 1-699, whereas flights operated by pre-merger US Airways aircraft and crews are numbered 700-1999. (Flights numbered 2000-2199 are shuttle services, and those 2200 and higher are operated by express subsidiaries.) Aircraft operated by pre-merger US Airways crews or former America West crews flew under two different United States Department of Transportation operating certificates until September 25, 2007. However, until pilot union groups from both sides successfully negotiate a single contract, each group of pilots will fly only on its pre-merger airlines' aircraft and the flights will be marked accordingly.
Now that the computer systems are merged, former America West-operated flights are marketed as though America West was a wholly owned carrier. This marketing is common practice for airlines that have code-share agreements with other airlines operating aircraft for feeder or regional routes, and although the practice is uncommon for major airlines, it greatly simplifies the process for passengers connecting between historically US Airways-operated flights and former America West-operated flights.
In summer 2007, US Airways began upgrading its in-flight services, from food and entertainment to the training of flight attendants. The airline was planning to test-market a new seat back entertainment system in early 2008, however the 2008 fuel crisis has ended those plans. As a further result of the skyrocketing fuel costs, the airline is now rolling back the planned summer 2007 service upgrades as well as ending its existing in-flight entertainment on all domestic routes.
US Airways ranked last out of 20 domestic airline carriers for systemwide on-time performance in March, April and May 2007, according to US Department of Transportation figures. According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics June 2008 report (using data from May 2008), US Airways ranked 7th for percentage of on-time arrivals.
US Airways is the leader in service complaints with 4.4 complaints per 100,000 customers. US Airways rate of customer complaints is 7.5-times the rate of JetBlue (0.59 complaints per 100,000 customers) and 11-times the rate of Southwest (0.4 complaints per 100,000 customers). US Airways has a very poor record of addressing customer complaints, answering only 50% of the telephone calls to its customer service department.
US Airways east pilots took steps to relinquish their ALPA membership and form their own in-house union. Pre-merger US Airways "East" pilots were dissatisfied with the results of binding arbitration when the arbitrator's ruling placed all active former America West pilots, including their most junior pilot, who had been hired only three months previous to the merger, ahead of furloughed US Airways pilots with up to seventeen years of service. The former US Airways pilots petitioned the National Mediation Board to conduct a vote to determine whether to replace their union. East pilots (3,200) outnumbered west pilots (1,800) and the proposed union's president stated that the union has a sufficient number of requests to call a vote according to National Mediation Board regulations. The new union would be called the US Airline Pilots Association (USAPA). On April 17th, 2008, USAPA was voted in as the sole bargaining agent for the pilots of US Airways, East and West.
As of September 2007, US Airways continued to downgrade Pittsburgh International Airport's status from 500 flights a day (with 12,000 employees) in 2001 to just 68 flights a day (with only 1,800 employees). CEO Doug Parker stated its frustration with PIT being an unprofitable airport and that more cuts may be on the way. This represents a further deterioration of a strained relationship with Allegheny County, with which the airline shares significant historical ties. US Airways Group Inc. said October 3,2007 it would cut mainline flights at Pittsburgh International Airport to 22 a day from 31 and reduce regional flights to 46 a day from 77, beginning January 6, 2008, essentially reducing the airport to a destination spoke in its network. Pittsburgh is no longer a focus city for the airline as of its most recent annual report and January 2008 flight schedule reductions.
On September 25, 2007 US Airways was awarded a route by the DOT to serve Beijing from Charlotte via Philadelphia This marks the first direct route to China from Philadelphia, scheduled to begin in March 2009. US Airways has threatened to withdraw the proposed route, however, if Philadelphia International Airport allows Delta Air Lines to enter Terminal A East.
On October 29, 2007, US Airways announced it will apply for daily nonstop service between Charlotte and Bogotá, Colombia when the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) begins selecting carriers for 21 new weekly flights to the South American nation. The carrier has since lost this bid.
On May 20, 2008, according to the annual American Customer Satisfaction Index by the University of Michigan, US Airways ranked last in customer satisfaction among the major airlines (http://www.eturbonews.com/2588/us-airways-bottom-airline-customer-satisfacti).
On June 6, 2008, US Airways announced that it cannot furlough aging 737 Classic aircraft (as United and Continental have announced) due to minimum fleet size requirements imposed on it by labor unions.
USAir (late 80s) "USAir is Your Choice"
USAir (early 90s) "USAir Begins With You"
US Airways (early 2000s) "Where I Fly the Flag"
US Airways (post 9/11) "Get On Board"
US Airways (first bankruptcy) "Together We Fly"
US Airways (post-first bankruptcy) "Clear Skies Ahead"
US Airways (Post Merger) "Fly with US"
US Airways' routes are concentrated along the East Coast of the United States, Southwestern United States and the Caribbean, with a number of routes serving Europe and primary destinations along the U.S. West Coast. The airline's western U.S. presence has increased dramatically following the merger with America West. Codesharing with United Airlines has helped US Airways by enabling the airline to offer its customers service throughout the Midwest, Great Plains and Rocky Mountains states. Services to South America, Asia and Australia also are offered via the United Airlines codeshare. Likewise, United passengers benefit from increased access via US Airways to the U.S. East Coast, Europe and the Caribbean. US Airways Express carriers operate a large number of domestic routes, primarily into US Airways' hubs and focus cities, but with some exceptions, particularly small markets where the regional express carriers operate service under the EAS program, as well as some point-to-point commuter routes in the northeast and mid-Atlantic regions and south through the Carolinas. In February 2007, the airline announced that its official operations center would be located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
On July 16, 2007 US Airways announced it had applied to the Department of Transportation for nonstop service between Philadelphia and Beijing. If approved, the flights would begin in March 2009 and would utilize Airbus A340 aircraft that would originate in Charlotte using a Boeing 767. On September 25, 2007 The Department of Transportation stated that it tentatively had awarded US Airways the Charlotte-Philadelphia-Beijing route to begin on March 25, 2009, however the airline recently asked the USDOT for permission to delay the flight by one year, partly due to the 2008 fuel crisis.
On November 11, 2007, US Airways announced nonstop service between Philadelphia and London's Heathrow Airport, its first service to that airport. The airline will retain its existing nonstop service between Philadelphia and London Gatwick, as well as between Charlotte and London Gatwick.
Also in 2007, the airline applied for flights to Bogotá, Colombia (proposed to start in 2008 from Charlotte), however its application was denied by the US Department of Transportation after the agency awarded Delta Air Lines, JetBlue Airways, and Spirit Airlines the routes from Delta's New York-JFK hub, JetBlue from Orlando, and Spirit from Fort Lauderdale.
As of 2008, US Airways and other airlines have struggled with the price of fuel. Despite that, US Airways CEO Doug Parker said "It is our international gateway. We'd like to expand that, the airline hopes to add three international flights next summer (2009), including to Tel Aviv" from Philadelphia.
US Airways fleet consists of the following aircraft as of September 23, 2008:
|Airbus A319-100||93||9 orders||124 (12/112)||North American / Caribbean||Largest operator of Airbus A320 family|
|Airbus A320-200||75||51 orders||150 (12/138)||North American / Caribbean||Deliveries: 2010-2012 |
Replacing: Boeing 737 Family
Largest operator of Airbus A320 family
|Airbus A321-200||31||29 orders||183 (16/167)||North American / Caribbean||Deliveries: 2008-2010 |
Largest operator of Airbus A320 family
Replacing: Boeing 757-200
|Airbus A330-200||0||25 orders |
|264 (20*/244)||Transatlantic||Entry into service: 2009 |
Some orders transferable to Airbus A340-300
|Airbus A330-300||9||None||288 (29/259)||Caribbean / Transatlantic||First row: Envoy Sleeper Seats|
|Airbus A350-800XWB||0||18 orders||Entry into service: 2014|
|Airbus A350-900XWB||0||4 orders||Entry into service: 2013|
|Boeing 737-300||35||None||126 (12/114) |
|North American||Exit from service: 2008-2012 |
Replacement aircraft: Airbus A320 family
|Boeing 737-400||40||None||144 (12/132)||North American||Exit from service: 2008-2012 |
Replacement aircraft: Airbus A320 family
|Boeing 757-200||41||None||193 (8/185) |
|North American / Caribbean |
Transatlantic / Hawaii
|Winglets installed on ETOPS |
Replacement aircraft: Airbus A320 family
|Boeing 767-200ER||10||None||204 (18/186)||North American / Transatlantic||Long-term replacement plan |
Replacement aircraft: Airbus A350-800
|Embraer 190||24||23 orders ||99 (11/88)||North American||Replacing: Boeing 737 Family|
|Fokker F28-4000||1997||US Airways Express Fleet|
|Fokker F28-1000||1997||US Airways Express Fleet|
|BAC 1-11||1989||Boeing 737 and US Airways Express Fleet|
|Boeing 727-100||Boeing 737 and Airbus A320 Family Aircraft|
|Boeing 727-200||2000||Airbus A320 Family Aircraft|
|Boeing 747-200||1994||None||Used by America West for its routes to Japan and Hawaii|
|Boeing 737-100||2000||Airbus A320 Family Aircraft||Used by America West for Phoenix Suns charters|
|Boeing 737-200||2001/2005||Airbus A320 Family Aircraft||US Airways 737-200 aircraft retired 2001, America West aircraft retired January 2005.|
|Douglas DC-9-30||2001||Airbus A320 Family Aircraft|
|Fokker F100||2002||Airbus A320 Family Aircraft|
|McDonnell Douglas MD-80||2002||Airbus A320 Family Aircraft|
US Air and US Airways have operated a very varied fleet. For example, just prior to September 11, 2001, US Airways operated Fokker 100, DC9, MD80, B737-200, B737-300, B737-400, B757-200, B767-200, A319-100, A320-200, A321-200 and A330-300 (13 types, but only 12 listed here). The reason for this is that throughout the different mergers, each of the airlines that merged with the company brought their own aircraft configured to their specifications. Additionally, some of the airlines that merged with US Air and US Airways purchased and leased aircraft that had operated at other airlines. Take the A320 family for example; US Airways east obtained theirs directly from Airbus. America West, on the other hand, has an array of A320s that were obtained from airlines.
All east A319/A320/A321s (except the ones delivered after 2008) came with powerports on their seat rows. but A319/A320s from AWA do not. US Airways A320/319s that came from AWA have different engines than pre-merger A320/A319/A321 from US Airways. On the current Boeing fleet, the differences of the aircraft are only visible from the inside. 757s within the America West fleet differ considerably, for example in the location of the lavatories and the galley configuration. The US Airways 757s (partly from Eastern) have yet another configuration. The 737-300 fleet at America West is from all over the world. Some have air vents, some do not. US Air's 737-300s come from either US Air or Piedmont Airlines.
US Airways has operated various liveries under both the US Airways and USAir names. In general, the Express and Shuttle divisions have had liveries that closely paralleled the company-wide livery at the time.
In addition to US Airways partner airlines in the Star Alliance, the Dividend Miles program other partner airlines or programs include:
America West Airlines had a frequent flyer program called FlightFund. Following the US Airways-America West merger, FlightFund was merged into the US Airways Dividend Miles program.
Note: This list includes Star Alliance (*) partners.
|499||February 21, 1986||McDonnell Douglas DC-9-31||Erie, Pennsylvania||Overran snow covered runway||1||22|
|5050||September 20, 1989||Boeing 737-401||Flushing, New York, New York||Deflection of rudder during takeoff||2||3||18||40|
|1493||February 1, 1991||Boeing 737-3B7||Los Angeles, California||ATC controller separation error||34||13||17||37|
|405||March 22, 1992||Fokker 28-4000||Flushing, New York, New York||Improper deicing procedures||27||9||12||3|
|1016||July 2, 1994||McDonnell Douglas DC-9-32||Charlotte, North Carolina||Windshear during missed approach||37||16||4|
|427||September 8, 1994||Boeing 737-3B7||Hopewell Township, Beaver County, Pennsylvania||Uncommanded rudder deflection||132|
|October 16, 2003||Airbus A319-112||Tampa, FL||Failure of brake steering control unit (BSCU) during taxi||1||2||103|