US Airways Group takes wing as one of the nation's leading passenger carriers. Along with its regional affiliates, US Airways serves more than 200 cities, mainly in the US and Canada, but also in Latin America, the Caribbean, the Middle East, and Europe. It uses about 340 jets on mainline routes; regional service is provided by subsidiaries Piedmont Airlines and PSA with more than 90 aircraft. US Airways extends its network via the Star Alliance, a marketing and code-sharing partnership led by US Airways, United Continental's United Airlines, Lufthansa, and Singapore Airlines. (Code-sharing allows airlines to sell tickets on one another's flights and thus offer more destinations.)
US Airways has hubs in Charlotte, North Carolina; Philadelphia; and Phoenix. Secondary hubs reside in New York and Boston.
US Airways combines two main approaches to the airline business: low-fare, low-cost (similar to Southwest Airlines and JetBlue), and international hub-and-spoke, with amenities (like American Airlines and United). To enhance the customer experience in general, US Airways has replaced 12 Boeing 737s with Airbus A321s, which include Gogo Inflight Internet service and additional First Class seating. Also the company installed a First Class cabin on 110 US Airways Express regional jets and began installing the Envoy Suite, which include fully lie-flat business-class seats and on-demand entertainment system, on its wide-body Airbus A330-300 aircraft.
While US Airways sales increased more than 20% in 2010 compared to 2009, its net income rocketed from a loss of $205 million to a positive $502 million for the same period. Net income then fell to $71 million in 2011, though year-over-year operating revenues rose 9% upon sales increases in all segments, including mainline passengers, express passengers, and cargo.
One constant among US Airways' economic challenges is rising fuel costs. As a percentage of total operating expenses, fuel expenses have risen from about 24% in 2009 to nearly 36% in 2011. This, as well as higher maintenance costs, took a chunk out of the company's net income, but it was able to maintain some profitability with strong pricing.
US Airways has not ruled out a future merger with an industry leading airline. In the late summer of 2012 it announced an agreement to consider a merger with AMR, parent of American Airlines.
Also in 2012 US Airways began operating new flights from 42 slot pairs -- one slot able to handle either take-off or landing -- at Washington National that were acquired from Delta Air Lines. US Airways also acquired from Delta the right to operate additional daily service to Brazil in 2015. As part of the deal, Delta acquired 132 slot pairs at LaGuardia Airport in New York from US Airways for more than $66 million.
In addition to its nonstop route between the US and China (Beijing), US Airways added flights to Madrid and Dublin, Ireland, in mid-2011. US Airways is expanding its fleet of Airbus wide-body jets intended for overseas routes to fill the demand.
In a bid to become the largest airline in the US, US Airways Group entered into talks with United Continental (named UAL Corporation at the time) in 2010 about a possible merger of United Airlines and US Airways. But the deal faced labor and regulatory hurdles, and US Airways ended the talks. UAL instead bought Continental later that year and became United Continental Holdings. – less