Category Archives: US Airways

American Airlines Group reports its highest quarterly profit in company history

American Airlines Group (American Airlines and US Airways) today (July 24) issued this financial statement for the second quarter:

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American Airlines Group Inc. (AAL) today reported its second quarter 2015 results.

  • Reported record quarterly net profit of $1.9 billion excluding net special charges, a 27 percent increase versus the second quarter 2014
  • Reported record quarterly GAAP net profit of $1.7 billion, a 97 percent increase versus last year’s second quarter
  • Repurchased over $750 million of common stock and authorized an additional $2 billion share repurchase program
  • Declared a dividend of $0.10 per share to be paid on August 24, 2015, to shareholders of record as of August 10, 2015

American Airlines Group’s second quarter 2015 net profit, excluding net special charges, was a record $1.9 billion, or $2.62 per diluted share versus a second quarter 2014 net profit excluding net special charges of $1.5 billion, or $1.98 per diluted share. The Company’s second quarter 2015 pretax margin excluding net special charges was a record 17.2 percent, up 4.4 percentage points from the same period last year.

On a GAAP basis, the Company reported a record net profit of $1.7 billion, or $2.41 per diluted share. This compares to a GAAP net profit of $864 million in the second quarter 2014, or $1.17 per diluted share.

See the accompanying notes in the Financial Tables section of this press release for further explanation, including a reconciliation of GAAP to non-GAAP financial information.

“Reporting the highest quarterly profit in our history is another indication that our team is on the path to restoring American as the greatest airline in the world,” said Chairman and CEO Doug Parker. “These results are especially remarkable considering the significant and successful work underway to integrate two airlines. The more than 100,000 dedicated team members of American Airlines are doing a phenomenal job and we are grateful for their commitment to our customers.”

Revenue and Cost Comparisons

Total revenue in the second quarter was $10.8 billion, a decrease of 4.6 percent versus the second quarter 2014 on a 1.9 percent increase in total available seat miles (ASMs). Consolidated passenger revenue per ASM (PRASM) was 13.57 cents, down 6.9 percent versus the second quarter 2014. Consolidated passenger yield was 16.28 cents, down 6.1 percent year-over-year.

Total operating expenses in the second quarter were $8.9 billion, a decrease of 10.5 percent compared to the second quarter 2014, due primarily to a 36.9 percent decrease in consolidated fuel expense. Second quarter mainline cost per available seat mile (CASM) was 11.87 cents, down 12.8 percent on a 1.5 percent increase in mainline ASMs versus the second quarter 2014. Excluding net special charges and fuel, mainline CASM was 8.77 cents, up 2.5 percent compared to the second quarter 2014. Regional CASM excluding special charges and fuel was 16.02 cents, up 1.4 percent on a 5.5 percent increase in regional ASMs versus the second quarter 2014.

Cash and Investments

As of June 30, 2015, the Company had approximately $9.7 billion in total cash and short-term investments, of which $747 million was restricted. The Company also had an undrawn revolving credit facility of $1.8 billion.

American continues to invest in its product. As part of an extensive fleet renewal plan that has made American’s fleet the youngest of any U.S. network airline, the Company expects to spend $5.4 billion on new aircraft this year. During the second quarter, the Company took delivery of 24 new mainline aircraft and nine new regional aircraft and retired 34 older mainline and eight older regional aircraft. In addition to this fleet renewal program, American is in the midst of investing $2 billion to further enhance its product, including improvements to aircraft interiors, international Wi-Fi connectivity and upgrades to its Admirals Club lounges.

In the second quarter, the Company returned $823 million to its shareholders through the payment of $70 million in quarterly dividends and the repurchase of $753 million of common stock, or 17.3 million shares, at an average price of $43.53 per share. When combined with the dividends and shares repurchased during the first quarter, the Company has returned approximately $1.1 billion to its shareholders in the first half of 2015, including $943 million of shares repurchased under the existing $2 billion share repurchase program approved in January 2015.

Due to the Company’s strong financial performance, its projected cash flow and the repurchase activity to date, the American Airlines Group Board of Directors has authorized an additional $2 billion share repurchase program to be completed by December 31, 2016. This brings the total amount of share repurchase programs authorized in 2015 to $4 billion. The Company also declared a dividend of $0.10 per share to be paid on August 24, 2015, to shareholders of record as of August 10, 2015.

Share repurchases under the share repurchase program may be made through a variety of methods, which may include open market purchases, privately negotiated transactions, block trades or accelerated share repurchase transactions. Any such repurchases will be made from time to time subject to market and economic conditions, applicable legal requirements and other relevant factors. The program does not obligate the Company to repurchase any specific number of shares or continue a dividend for any fixed period, and may be suspended at any time at the Company’s discretion.

Approximately $629 million of the Company’s unrestricted cash and short-term investment balance was held in Venezuelan bolivars. This balance includes approximately $621 million valued at 6.3 bolivars per U.S. dollar and approximately $8 million valued at 12.8 bolivars per U.S. dollar, with the rate depending on the date the Company submitted its repatriation request to the Venezuelan government. These rates are materially more favorable than the exchange rates currently prevailing for other transactions conducted outside of the Venezuelan government’s currency exchange system.

During 2014, the Company significantly reduced capacity in the Venezuelan market and is no longer accepting bolivars as payment for airline tickets. The Company is monitoring this situation closely and continues to evaluate its holdings of Venezuelan bolivars for additional foreign currency losses or other accounting adjustments, which could be material, particularly in light of the additional uncertainty posed by the recent changes to the foreign exchange regulations and the continued deterioration of economic conditions in Venezuela. More generally, fluctuations in foreign currencies, including devaluations, cannot be predicted by the Company and can significantly affect the value of its assets located outside the United States. These conditions, as well as any further delays, devaluations or imposition of more stringent repatriation restrictions, may materially adversely affect the Company’s business, results of operations and financial condition.

Special Items

In the second quarter, the Company recognized $150 million in net special charges, including:

  • $231 million in merger related integration expenses, including $221 million in mainline special charges and $10 million in regional special charges
  • $77 million in net special credits, including a $68 million credit for bankruptcy related items, principally consisting of fair value adjustments for bankruptcy settlement obligations
  • $11 million non-operating net special credits comprised of a $22 million gain associated with the sale of an investment, offset in part by $11 million in charges principally related to non-cash write offs of unamortized debt discount and debt issuance costs associated with refinancing the Company’s secured term loan facilities
  • $7 million in tax special charges related to certain indefinite-lived intangible assets

Notes:

(1) The 2015 second quarter mainline operating special items totaled a net charge of $144 million, which principally included $221 million of merger integration expenses related to information technology, professional fees, severance, share-based compensation, fleet restructuring, re-branding of aircraft and airport facilities, relocation and training. These charges were offset in part by a net $68 million credit for bankruptcy related items primarily consisting of fair value adjustments for bankruptcy settlement obligations. The 2015 six month period mainline operating special items totaled a net charge of $447 million, which principally included $437 million of merger integration expenses as described above and a net $99 million charge related to the Company’s new pilot joint collective bargaining agreement. These charges were offset in part by a net $73 million credit for bankruptcy related items primarily consisting of fair value adjustments for bankruptcy settlement obligations.

The 2014 second quarter mainline operating special items totaled a net charge of $251 million, which principally included $163 million of merger integration expenses related to information technology, professional fees, severance, share-based compensation, re-branding of aircraft and airport facilities, relocation and training as well as a net $38 million charge for bankruptcy related items primarily consisting of fair value adjustments for bankruptcy settlement obligations and $37 million in charges related to the buyout of leases associated with certain aircraft. The 2014 six month period mainline operating special items totaled a net charge of $114 million, which principally included $365 million of merger integration expenses, $40 million in charges primarily related to the buyout of leases associated with certain aircraft and a net $5 million charge for bankruptcy related items, all as described above. These charges were offset in part by a $309 million gain on the sale of Slots at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.

(2) The 2015 and 2014 second quarter and six month period regional operating special items principally related to merger integration expenses.

(3) The 2015 second quarter nonoperating special items totaled a net credit of $11 million and primarily included a $22 million gain associated with the sale of an investment, offset in part by $11 million in charges principally related to non-cash write offs of unamortized debt discount and debt issuance costs associated with refinancing the Company’s secured term loan facilities. The 2015 six month period nonoperating special items totaled a net credit of $19 million and principally included the $22 million gain associated with the sale of an investment as described above and a $17 million early debt extinguishment gain associated with the repayment of American’s AAdvantage loan with Citibank. These special credits were offset in part by $20 million in charges principally related to non-cash write offs of unamortized debt discount and debt issuance costs associated with the debt refinancing as described above and the prepayment of certain aircraft financings.

The 2014 second quarter and six month period nonoperating special items were primarily due to non-cash interest accretion of $2 million and $33 million, respectively, on bankruptcy settlement obligations.

(4) The 2015 second quarter and six month period tax special items were the result of a non-cash deferred income tax provision related to certain indefinite-lived intangible assets.

During the 2014 second quarter, the Company sold its portfolio of fuel hedging contracts that were scheduled to settle on or after June 30, 2014. In connection with this sale, the Company recorded a special non-cash tax provision of $330 million in the second quarter of 2014 that reversed the non-cash tax provision which was recorded in other comprehensive income (OCI), a subset of stockholders’ equity, principally in 2009. This provision represents the tax effect associated with gains recorded in OCI principally in 2009 due to a net increase in the fair value of the Company’s fuel hedging contracts. In accordance with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, the Company retained the $330 million tax provision in OCI until the last contract was settled or terminated. In addition, the Company recorded a special $7 million non-cash deferred income tax provision related to certain indefinite-lived intangible assets in the 2014 second quarter. The 2014 six month period included the $330 million non-cash tax provision related to the settlement of fuel hedges discussed above as well as a special $15 million non-cash deferred income tax provision related to certain indefinite-lived intangible assets.

Read the full report: CLICK HERE

Copyright Photo: Ken Petersen/AirlinersGallery.com. American Airlines and US Airways are already operating under a single AOC. However the last US-coded flight will be flight US 434, a red-eye flight from San Francisco to Philadelphia, on October 17, 2015. After that date, all mainline flights will operate under the AA code. Former US Airways Airbus A319-112 N741UW (msn 1269), operated under the US code but now painted in American’s new 2013 livery, approaches the runway at Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU).

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Clint Eastwood to direct feature film about “Miracle on the Hudson” pilot Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger

Warner Brothers (Burbank) has made the following announcement:

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Clint Eastwood will helm Warner Bros. Pictures’ as-yet-untitled drama about the life of Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, who became an American hero when he landed his disabled jet on the Hudson River, saving the lives of everyone aboard. The announcement was made by Greg Silverman, President, Creative Development and Worldwide Production, Warner Bros. Pictures.

Eastwood will direct the film from a screenplay by Todd Komarnicki, based on the book “Highest Duty: My Search for What Really Matters,” by Sullenberger and Jeffrey Zaslow. The film is being produced by Eastwood and Tim Moore, for Malpaso; Frank Marshall, under the Kennedy/Marshall banner; and Allyn Stewart, for Flashlight Films. Flashlight’s Kipp Nelson and RatPac-Dune’s Steven Mnuchin are serving as executive producers.

In making the announcement, Silverman stated, “Simply put, Clint Eastwood is at the top of his game, not to mention a global treasure. On the heels of his extraordinary work in ‘American Sniper,’ it is tremendously exciting to see him explore the life of another captivating true-life hero. It is also great to be collaborating with Frank Marshall and Allyn Stewart to produce this compelling script by Todd Komarnicki.”

The film will go beyond Sullenberger’s almost impossible and much-heralded achievement of safely landing a jet (above) on the water, which was captured on video and viewed around the world. But behind the scenes, a drama was unfolding that could have cost him his reputation and his wings.

Sullenberger commented, “I am very glad my story is in the hands of gifted storyteller and filmmaker Clint Eastwood, and veteran producers Allyn Stewart and Frank Marshall. The project could not have found a better home than Warner Bros. Pictures. This is truly a dream team.”

Top Copyright Photo: Jay Selman/AirlinersGallery.com. Ill-fated but now preserved in Charlotte, Airbus A320-214 N106US (msn 1044) arrives at CLT before the “Miracle on the Hudson” event of January 17, 2009.

Photo below: Clindberg. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, the Captain of US Airways flight 1549.

Chesley Sully Sullenberger

The end of US Airways, today American Airlines is operating under a single FAA operating certificate

American Airlines and US Airways (American Airlines Group) (Dallas/Fort Worth) today (April 8) are operating under a single operating certificate from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) (Part 121 FAA Air Operators Certificate-AOC).

Before midnight last night, all originating US Airways (formerly USAir) US/USA (AWE) flights were using its codes and after midnight all originating flights were using the American Airlines (AA/AAL) codes. Some US Airways flights technically landed today after midnight using the old codes.

Therefore as an airline, in the eyes of the FAA, US Airways technically was fully merged into American Airlines today (April 8) although brand remnants of US Airways (especially on the aircraft) will take longer to erase.

All flights now use the “American” call sign.

For the record, the last Cactus call sign US Airways flight was flight US 696 from Los Angeles (LAX) to Charlotte (CLT) arriving a little after 6 am (0613) with Airbus A321-231 N971UY (msn 6249) painted in full American colors.

USAirways logo

American Airlines issued this statement:

American Airlines 2013 logo

American Airlines today (April 8) received a single operating certificate from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for American and US Airways, marking a major milestone in the integration of the two airlines.

The FAA’s approval for American and US Airways to operate under one certificate is the culmination of more than 18 months of work aligning the carriers’ operating policies and procedures. Beginning today, most flight operations, maintenance and dispatch procedures will be identical for all flights. Air traffic control communications will refer to all American and US Airways flights with the call sign “American.”

“Achieving a single operating certificate is an important step toward becoming a fully integrated airline and the effort to reach today’s milestone touched nearly every area of our company,” said Robert Isom, American’s Chief Operating Officer. “For a project of this scope, many entities and people must come together and see it through to completion, but one person must ultimately oversee it in its entirety. With that, our appreciation for the leadership of Captain and Senior Vice President, Integration Operations Ed Bular, who oversaw this massive project, along with the CAVOK Group under the leadership of Vice President Jim Ballough, cannot be overstated. Likewise, our frontline employees and the union leaders who represent them are to be enthusiastically applauded for their role in learning and implementing new policies and procedures and adhering to those as we move forward under one certificate.

“The FAA’s Joint Transition Team, led by Skip Whitrock, helped guide us through a rigorous process designed to ensure that our airline is built on a solid foundation of regulatory compliance. We are extremely appreciative of the valuable direction that Skip, Division Managers Nick Reyes and Larry Fields and all at the FAA have provided us over the past year.

“Lastly, as a global airline, this work spanned many regions. We thank the Department of Transportation and regulatory authorities in more than 50 countries who worked alongside us to ensure this critical project remained on track.”

Isom concluded, “While today marks a significant milestone for our integration, there is still much that remains ahead and we will intensify our focus on moving to a single reservations system and website and combining our frontline employee workgroups.”

A team of more than 700 employees reviewed 465 manuals along with policies, procedures and programs from both carriers and selected best practices to implement for the merged airline. More than 110,000 employees completed hundreds of thousands of hours of training in multiple phases and more than 115,000 pages on policies and procedures were published.

The FAA’s recognition of American as a single operator does not mean change for customers, who will continue to check in for their flights on aa.com, usairways.com, or at American or US Airways ticket counters until later this year when American moves to a single reservations system.

Since American and US Airways merged in December 2013, the airline has been making steady integration progress, including inducting US Airways into the oneworld alliance, merging separate frequent flyer programs into the single AAdvantage program and reaching five-year joint collective bargaining agreements with its pilots and flight attendants.

Copyright Photo: Michael B. Ing/AirlinersGallery.com. The real story here is how upstart America West Airlines (AWE) (and the Doug Parker-led management team) (Phoenix) became the largest airline in the world by taking over two struggling and larger airlines and adopting their names. US Airways’ legacy 1983 America West retro scheme is pictured on Airbus A319-132 N828AW (msn 1552). You did it Doug Parker. Congratulations. Well done.

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American Airlines Group to join the S&P 500

American Airlines Group Inc. (American Airlines and US Airways)  (NASD: AAL) (Dallas/Fort Worth) will replace Allergan Inc. (NYSE: AGN) in the S&P 500 after the close of trading on Friday, March 20. S&P 500 constituent Actavis plc (NYSE: ACT) is acquiring Allergan in a transaction expected to be completed today.

American Airlines Group is the holding company for American Airlines and US Airways. Headquartered in Fort Worth, TX, the company will be added to the S&P 500 GICS (Global Industry Classification Standard) Airlines Sub-Industry index.

S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC, a part of McGraw Hill Financial, is the world’s largest, global resource for index-based concepts, data and research. Home to iconic financial market indicators, such as the S&P 500® and the Dow Jones Industrial Average®, S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC has over 115 years of experience constructing innovative and transparent solutions that fulfill the needs of investors. More assets are invested in products based upon our indices than any other provider in the world. With over 1,000,000 indices covering a wide range of asset classes across the globe, S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC defines the way investors measure and trade the markets.

Copyright Photo: Brian Peters/AirlinersGallery.com. As we previously reported, the brand new Boeing 787-8 has been undergoing crew testing. The 787 initially will be deployed between Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) and Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD) beginning on May 7, before launching internationally between DFW and Beijing Capital International Airport (PEK) beginning on June 2. N800AN (msn 40618) taxies at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport (DFW).

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American Airlines to combine the two loyalty programs in the next 30 days, will retain N578UW in US Airways colors

American Airlines (Dallas/Fort Worth) has started notifying its frequent flyer members that it intends to combine American’s AAdvantage program with US Airways’ Dividend Miles in the next 30 days. The combination is another step towards the goal of a single airline and a single operating certificate.

American has also selected the pictured US Airways Airbus A321-231 N578UW (msn 6035) to become the US Airways legacy aircraft in the future American fleet. In December, US Airways added American titles while retaining its 2005 livery. N578UW will keep this look after all of the US Airways aircraft are repainted or retired.

Copyright Photo: Andy Cripps/AirlinersGallery.com. The US Airways legacy aircraft arrives at the Miami hub.

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US Airways flight 445 makes an emergency landing in Denver with smoke in the cabin

US Airways (Phoenix) flight US (AWE) 445 from Charlotte to Denver made a safe emergency landing at Denver International Airport yesterday (March 4) after smoke reportedly filled the cabin. Passengers safely evacuated the pictured Airbus A321-211 registered as N188US (msn 1724) (now painted in American Airlines colors). The 158 passengers and six crew members used the emergency chutes to safely evacuate the aircraft.

Video Below: By CalNinjaMonkey.

American Airlines issued this statement:

American Airlines confirms that US Airways Flight 445, from Charlotte Douglas International Airport to Denver International Airport was involved in an incident at Denver this afternoon. While taxiing to the gate, the pilot was alerted to possible smoke in the cabin. The passengers and crew deplaned via the slides and are all in the terminal.

We are in contact with the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration.

The Airbus A321 had 158 passengers and six crewmembers.

Read the full account from CBS 4 in Denver: CLICK HERE

Top Copyright Photo: Jay Selman/AirlinersGallery.com. Airbus A321-211 N188US (msn 1724) arrives at Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT).

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Jay Selman’s An Inside Look: Another End of an Era

Assistant Editor Jay Selman

Assistant Editor Jay Selman

Another End of an Era – Farewell to the Boeing 767

by Assistant Editor Jay Selman

February 12, 2015 marked another end of an era at US Airways, as the company retired its last Boeing 767-200. While the airline was quick to point out that its merger partner, American Airlines, operates nearly 60 of the larger 767-300s, the final flight of the 767-200 represented the end of an era for US Airways. Following the general success of flight US 737, marking the retirement of the company’s last 737 Classic in August 2014, US Airways repeated the act with flight US 767, which operated from Philadelphia to Charlotte, and back to PHL.

The 767 entered the US Airways inventory through the merger with Piedmont Airlines in 1989. Piedmont received its first Boeing 767 on May 21st, 1987, shortly after the merger with USAir was announced. N603P was used to inaugurate the carrier’s first intercontinental service, between Charlotte North Carolina and London’s Gatwick Airport. Piedmont ordered six of the type initially, and after merging with USAir, another six were added to the fleet. Eventually, the 767s were used by US Airways in virtually all of its intercontinental markets. The 767 had the range to fly from Charlotte to Rome, Sao Paulo, and even Honolulu. Its common type rating with the 757 allowed the company to better utilize its pilots.

The Boeing 767 first went into service in 1982. It was the manufacturer’s first wide-body twin engine aircraft and was ground-breaking in several aspects. The 767 was the first Boeing wide-body to be designed with a two-crew digital glass cockpit. Cathode ray tube (CRT) color displays and new electronics replaced the role of the flight engineer by enabling the pilot and co-pilot to monitor aircraft systems directly. (A three-crew cockpit remained as an option and was fitted to the first production models. Ansett Australia ordered 767s with three-crew cockpits due to union demands; it was the only airline to operate 767s so configured.) Development of the 767 occurred in tandem with a narrow-body twinjet, the 757, resulting in shared design features which allow pilots to obtain a common type rating to operate both aircraft.

The 767 was initially flown on domestic and transcontinental routes, during which it demonstrated the reliability of its twinjet design. In 1985, the 767 became the first twin-engine airliner to receive regulatory approval for extended overwater flights. The aircraft was then used to expand non-stop service on medium- to long-haul intercontinental routes. Today, thanks to the concept proven by the ground-breaking 767, over 90% of the intercontinental airline flights are operated by twin engine aircraft flown by a two-pilot crew.

US flight US 767 PHL-CLT with Jay Selman (LRW)

Above Photo: Assistant Editor Jay Selman prepares to depart on flight 767 on February 12 from Philadelphia bound for Charlotte.

US Airways flight 767 PHL departure (JS)(LRW)

Above Photo: Jay Selman. The morning departure of flight 767 from Philadelphia.

There was a low-keyed celebration at the gate in PHL prior to departure of US 767. Breakfast pastries were served and the gate agent boarding the flight made a short announcement explaining the significance of flight 767. We pushed back from gate A18 in PHL at 8:55 am, five minutes early (below).

US Airways 767-200 at gate A18 PHL (JS)(LRW)

US Airways flight US 767 Capt Scott Lesh (JS)(LRW)

 

At the controls were PHL-based Captain Scott Lesh (above) and First Officer John Hyde (below).

US Airways 767-200 flight 767 Capt Scott Lesh and FO John Hyde in cockpit (JS)(LRW)

Above Photo: Jay Selman. Captain Scott Lesh and First Officer John Hyde in the cockpit of N252AU for the final day of revenue flights.

Flying “shotgun” in the flight deck jump seat was First Officer Jim Zazas (below). Jim and I go back a long way, and he is one of those guys we call an “Aviator” with a Capital A. He was in the second 767 class with Piedmont in 1987, and has been on the 757/767 ever since. In his spare time, he flies just about anything with a propeller, especially if it has the classification “Warbird.” From B-17 to P-51, Jim has probably flown it. His latest accomplishment was to get himself checked out in The Tinker Belle, the C-46 based in Monroe, NC. For Jim, this was a farewell to his favorite jet airliner.

US Airways FO Jim Zazas PHL (JS)(LRW)

Above Photo: Jay Selman. US Airways First Officer Jim Zazas.

I found it interesting that the flight was basically an extra section, added to the flight schedule approximately one month earlier, yet we departed PHL with every single seat filled. There were a significant number of aviation enthusiasts on board, but for the majority of the passengers, this was merely one more flight from Point A to Point B.

The flight was operated by N252AU, a 767-2B7 ER, msn 24765. 252 was originally delivered to USAir as N652US on May 25, 1990. It was the 308th production 767. From November 1993 until April of 1996, this aircraft was used on a wet lease program on behalf of British Airways, and flew in the British carrier’s colors during that time. Following the merger between US Airways and America West Airlines, the aircraft received its current registration.

<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/119629568″>US Airways Boeing 767-200 N252AU departure from PHL on the last day</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/user19954503″>Bruce Drum</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

Video: Jay Selman. The departure of N252AU from Philadelphia on the last day.

US Airways 767-200 N252AU arrival at CLT last day (JS)(LRW)

Our flight to Charlotte was uneventful, and following a well-deserved water cannon salute (above), we arrived at Gate D2 a little past 10:44 am. There, the company presented two cakes, decorated in blue and white, commemorating the retirement of the 767-200 (below).

US Airways 767-200 last flight cake (JS)(LRW)

 

US Airways 767-200 last flight US 767 CLT crew (best)(JS)(LRW)

Above Photo: Jay Selman. The crew of flight 767 poses with the two special cakes at the Charlotte turnaround.

During the nearly two-hour turnaround, I had a chance to chat with the lead Flight Attendant, Ellie Zalesky. Ellie told me that she began her career with Mohawk. “I’ve worked every airplane from the FH-227 to the A330, and the 767 was my favorite, hands down. I’m really going to miss her.” We had a chance to snap some souvenir photos prior to the final scheduled flight, and then it was time to head back to PHL.

US Airways 767-200 N252AU and crew on ramp CLT (best)(JS)(LRW)

Above Photo: The crew of flight US 767 poses with Boeing 767-2B7 ER N252AU on the ramp at Charlotte during the turnaround.

The return flight of US 767 pushed away from the gate in Charlotte at 12:27. It was markedly different from the first leg. The plane was less than 1/3 full, and this time, the majority of the passengers were hard-core enthusiasts and airline employees, much to the curiosity of the few “regular passengers” on board. There was a party atmosphere in flight, as we took time to enjoy the final flight of the 767-200. The flight attendants were surprised by the “enthusiast culture”, but quickly warmed to the occasion. Captain Lesh made a long announcement regarding the last flight of the 767-200, and its significance to US Airways, and commercial aviation.

US Airways 767-200 N262AU cabin (JS)(LRW)

Above Photo: Jay Selman. The cabin of N252AU.

I also had a chance to talk to another old friend, Bruce Clarke, who retired as a Captain on the 757/767. Of the 767, Bruce waxed poetic, “I don’t think that Boeing has ever built a sweeter airliner. She never put me into a situation that I could not easily get out of. With a service ceiling of 41,000 ft, we could get above a lot of weather…and other traffic.” (Shortly before he mentioned that, I looked out the window and noticed a CRJ900 cruising a few thousand feet below us). Clarke continues, “The CF6 engines put out plenty of power so even at max takeoff weight of 395,000 lbs, the 767-200 ER climbs effortlessly. The 767 has inboard and outboard ailerons, which gives her incredible agility. She is a very stable platform and cuts through turbulence like a knife through soft butter. I’ve flown the 707, 727. 737, 757, and 767, and the 767 was by far my favorite.” Clearly, everyone I spoke with who had flown or worked the 767 loves her.

US Airways welcome to Philadelphia (JS)(LRW)

Above Photo: Jay Selman. Back at PHL once again.

We arrived back at the gate in PHL at 13:46, about 20 minutes early. Most of us were in no rush to deplane. Instead, we lingered for just another few minutes, savoring what will probably, for most of us, be our last moments on a 767-200. After all, as US Airways removes its last 767 from the fleet, its merger partner, American Airlines, prepares to introduce the 787 into service.

The crew patiently stayed onboard to pose for final photos, answer final questions, and perhaps absorb those last few moments on the aircraft they love.

When Captain Lesh shut down the CF6s, N252AU had logged 100,813.48 hours, and amassed 18663 cycles, relatively few for today’s jet airliners. The airframe has plenty of life left in her, and, while nothing has been officially announced, there is an excellent chance that the 767 will be “re-purposed” in the near future.

As a postscript, a Boeing 757 scheduled to operate a round trip from Philadelphia to Charlotte later in the day developed a mechanical issue, and 252’s retirement was postponed for another few hours. The final round trip, however, was done with none of the hoopla reserved for flight US 767. As far as we were concerned, we were on THE retirement flight.

Piedmont (2nd) logo

 

As one more side note, when sister ships 249 and 250 were officially retired from the US Airways fleet, they represented the last airplanes that flew for Piedmont Airlines. As an original “Piedmonter”, this fact was as significant to me as the retirement of the 767-200.

Jay Selman with 252 (nose)(JS)(LRW)

Above Photo: What will be the fate of ship “252”?

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