America West Airlines

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America West Logo

America West Airlines Template:Airline codes, one of the United States' ten major airlines, is based in Phoenix, Arizona and is a part of America West Holdings Corporation.

The airline maintains two hubs, one at Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix, Arizona, and the second at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, Nevada. It is the second largest low-cost airline in the US. America West provides service to approximately 100 destinations in the US, Canada, and Mexico. Service to Europe and Hawaii is provided through code shareing arrangements.

As of March 2005, America West operated a fleet of 138 aircraft.

America West's corporate offices in Tempe, Arizona are housed in one of the first commercial high-rise buildings constructed in the downtown area, featuring a unique "airfoil" motif in the shape of its roof.

America West Express is the name for commuter and regional flights operated by Mesa Airlines for America West Airlines. The America West Express fleet consists of 43 aircraft.

On May 19, 2005, America West announced it would merge with the Arlington, Virginia-based US Airways. The new entity would be named US Airways and be headquartered in America West's corporate offices. [1] (http://nytimes.com/2005/05/19/business/20cnd-air.html?hp&ex=1116561600&en=f05446b274ed4c46&ei=5094&partner=homepage) For more details see America West Holdings Corporation

America West Airbus A320 at Detroit-Metropolitan Airport, Michigan, USA, in March 2004
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America West Airbus A320 at Detroit-Metropolitan Airport, Michigan, USA, in March 2004
Contents

Early history

One of the 1980s' greatest business success stories, it started on August 1, 1983 using three Boeing 737 aircraft flying out of their base in Phoenix, Arizona with Ed Beauvais as CEO. At the start, you could buy tickets on board the aircraft.

The airline quickly expanded, with 11 737s operating flights to 13 cities, developing a secondary hub in Las Vegas, Nevada by the end of 1983, and in 1984 grew to 21 aircraft and 23 cities.

America West was one of the first airlines to use extensive "cross-utilization", in which employees were trained in a variety of airline jobs, such as pilots trained in dispatch, and both baggage handlers and flight attendants being trained as gate agents. America West also started as a "full service" airline, in contrast with Southwest Airlines, the discount air carrier competing in many of the same markets. America West also utilized an aggressive employee stock ownership program, in which new employees were required to invest 20% of their salary in company stock, providing a steady flow of cash as the company grew.

In 1985, America West had grown to the point that no more gate space was available at Sky Harbor International Airport. While the new Terminal 4 at Sky Harbor was approved in 1986, it became apparent that additional gates would be needed before Terminal 4 was completed, and a temporary concourse was added to the southwest corner of the Airport's Terminal 3, adding six gates (eventually a total of 11 gates by 1990) for the use of America West.

The airline's rapid growth continued in 1986, with the airline greatly expanding its fleet, primarily with Boeing 757s purchased from Northwest Airlines after Northwest bought out Republic Airlines, as well as the acquisition of a number of De Havilland Dash 8 aircraft for local service from Phoenix and Las Vegas.

Also in 1986, the airline started running red eye flights from Las Vegas to increase aircraft utilization.

Bankruptcy

The rapid growth of America West resulted in large operating losses for the airline, and by 1986 the company was on the verge of bankruptcy. Originally slated to occupy the vast majority of the gates in the under-construction Terminal 4, America West had to reduce its commitment to the city of Phoenix to just 28 gates, with the growing Southwest Airlines agreeing to lease the remainder of Terminal 4.

Despite revenue problems, America West continued its growth, with a rebuffed attempted buyout of Eastern Airlines commuter plane division in 1988. In 1989, the airline purchased two Boeing 747 aircraft, offering service to Hawaii and Nagoya, Japan, as well as an expansion of service to many Mexican destinations.

In 1990, the airline moved into the new Terminal 4, and also took the delivery of several Airbus A320 aircraft, which had originally been ordered by the now-defunct Braniff Airlines and were sold to America West at a steep discount.

Despite these developments, the airline continued to lose money. The operating expenses at the new Terminal 4 were much larger than previous expenses in Terminal 3's temporary concourse. The Nagoya, Japan route was essentially a bust (the planes were flying with almost no passengers), with extremely low ticket sales. Finally, concerns about stability in the Gulf States in the lead-up to the Persian Gulf War lead to increasing fuel costs. This combination forced America West to file for bankruptcy in June, 1991.

Post-bankruptcy

America West operated in bankruptcy from 1991 to 1994. As part of its restructuring, the employee stock became worthless, the Hawaii and Nagoya routes were scrapped (and the 747s sold), and the airline's fleet was heavily pared down to 87 aircraft. All of the Dash 8 aircraft were sold, and America West's service to local markets was contracted to Mesa Airlines, which began conducting operations as "America West Express."

The bankruptcy forced a number of changes on the management side as well. Founder and CEO Ed Beauvais was removed as CEO, but remained on the board of directors, while Mike Conway, who had been with the airline since its start, was appointed as the new CEO, although he in turn would leave the airline in 1994, replaced by A. Maurice Myers. America West's CSR agents also unionized in 1993, a move which ended the cross-utilization between CSRs, flight attendants, and ground agents. Many maintenance and training functions that were previously operated by America West in-house were also outsourced during the bankruptcy.

Finally, in 1994 America West managed to secure a reorganization that allowed it to come out of bankruptcy, with a large portion of the airline owned by a partnership including Mesa Airlines and Continental Airlines, which resulted in code-sharing agreements with these airlines.

To help reinvigorate the airline as it emerged from bankruptcy, a number of consumer-visible changes occurred, including a new color scheme and logo (still in use as of 2004), new livery, E-ticket, and online ticket purchasing (in 1996). The airline continued ordering Airbus A320s, and gradually started retiring its older 737 aircraft.

In 19??, America West Airlines opened an east coast hub at Port Columbus International Airport in Columbus, Ohio. Chautauqua Airlines was used to provide commuter and regional flights. An America West Club was provided for the hub.

In 20?? America West Airlines received a loan of $380 million from The Air Transportation Stabilization Board. As of April, 2005, the remaining balance on the load is $300 million.

In 20?? America West Airlines closed the Port Columbus International Airport hub.

For details on the May 19, 2005 merger with US Airways see America West Holdings Corporation

Destinations

See full article: America West Airlines destinations

Fleet

America West Airlines Fleet
Type Number Seats Seats First/Coach Orders/Options
Boeing 757-200 13 190 14/176 0
Airbus A320-200 55 150 12/138 12
Boeing 737-300 37 134 8/126 0
Airbus A319-100 33 124 12/112
Canadair CRJ-900 24 86 0/86
Canadair CRJ-700 10 64 0/86
Canadair CRJ-200 18 50 0/50
deHavilland Dash-8 6 37 0/37

Airline Club

The airline operates a members only America West Club at Las Vegas and three in Phoenix.

Other commercial interests

America West has promotional partnerships with the Phoenix Suns NBA team, the 2001 World Series champion Arizona Diamondbacks baseball team and the Arizona Cardinals NFL team.

In 1992, America West paid $26 million for the 30-year naming rights of the Phoenix Suns home court, America West Arena.

External links

Copyright note

Photo copyrighted, and courtesy of, Mr. Tobias Werner


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