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Thursday, May 19, 2005

America West/ US Airways to merge

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.


EGCANES said...

Since when did FLL become the world's worse airport? As part of my job, I often travel to Tallahassee, and in recent months, I've found that the wait at security is longer than the 1 hour and 7 minutes estimated flight time. Also, with the exception of the Southwest Airlines terminal (Terminal 1), the airport is well, there's no other way to describe it except disgusting. Think about all the airports that have halfway edible food and nice places to kill time as you wait for you predictibly delayed flight. I mean there's not even a place to buy a Miguel Cabrera jersey!

There's no bigger Miami-Dade basher than yours truly, but I'm thinking that the folks behind the FLL malestrom rival MIA for graft and corruption. Have you noticed that you can take a SuperShuttle TO FLL, but not FROM FLL. The holder of the shuttle contract appears to be some Mickey Mouse firm with ourtrageous prices. And I haven't even gotten into the parking debate!! I guess that's a blog for another day...

Kartik said...

Evan, you're right. Fort Lauderdale grew too fast, partly because of the corruption at MIA, and now it is known for having the nation's longest security lines and being the country's most delay prone airport. At any given time if you drive by the airport you'll see 5-7 planes in line waiting to take off. Yuck! The parking, well that's even worse, and yes a topic for another day!

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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.