It came as no surprise today that America West Airlines and bankrupt US Airways have agreed to merge. US Airways has always been a weak carrier and America West with its major hubs in Phoenix and Las Vegas recently became a weaker and weaker sister to mighty Southwest in both airports. US Airways since its merger with Piedmont in 1989 has been trying to find a niche' in a competitive industry and has failed in every attempt. US Airways is a mainly regional carrier that has been strong along the east coast, but has through the years failed to diverisfy its route structure or product. For many years, US Airways started and stopped routes with such regularity, that many corporate clients stopped flying the carrier completely. US Airways had gimmicks and out of the box marketing concepts such as the Florida Shuttle, Metrojet and Envoy Class all which were fared poorly and ended up costing the carrier many of its most loyal passengers.
I'm glad both carriers found a partner and will try and make a go of it. US Airways is the third largest carrier at my hometown airport, America's most congested airport- Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood Int'l. It had been the hope of several low cost carriers that serve Fort Lauderdale that US Airways would go belly up and thus the 12 gates that the airline leases from the county would be available. Jet Blue for instance has a very ambitious plan to expand its operations from Lauderdale, and now they may have to look to expand Orlando instead.
Only time will tell if an airline that is strong in the Southwest and along the east coast but is weak in between can truly work. The new airline's route structure resembles a doughnut, with major hubs at Phoenix, Las Vegas, Philadelphia and Charlotte. Focus cities will be Los Angeles, Fort Lauderdale, New York-Laguardia, Washington-Reagan, Pittsburgh, and Boston. Note that the entire middle core of the country seems to be missing.
My thinking is that the new US Airways needs to seriously consider opening a hub in an underserved Midwestern airport- let's say Columbus where America West once had a major operation, or Kansas City. Without this missing link, my feeling is that the new merged carrier is just a stay of execution for two failing airlines.
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- I am the host of the Major League Soccer Talk and EPL Talk Podcasts and am frequent guest on other (world) football shows. I am also the publisher of various other websites including this one. I work in public/government relations in addition to my soccer work and have a keen interest in history, politics, aviation, travel,and the world around us.