Tag Archives: US Airways

US Airways to operate its last flight as flight US1939 on October 16-17 (a history of the airline)

US Airways (American Airlines) (American Airlines Group) (Phoenix and Dallas/Fort Worth) is currently operating under a single AOC with American Airlines (Dallas/Fort Worth). However it has been using the US code for its flights. This will all end on October 16-17 when it operates a ceremonial last flight (flight US1939, named after the year All American Aviation started operations). The airline has announced the details of the last flight. Flight US1939 will operate on October 16 from Philadelphia to Charlotte, then on to Phoenix and San Francisco and then back to Charlotte arriving on October 17 at 0618. Tragically the last US flight will not touch Pittsburgh where it all started.

Above Copyright Photo: Tony Storck/AirlinersGallery.com. US Airways Airbus A321-231 N578UW (msn 6035) now with “American” titles will be retained in the 2005 US Airways livery as the US Airways legacy aircraft.

The chronology of All American/Allegheny Airlines/USAir/US Airways (by US Airways):

US Airways logo

All American Aviation brings the first airmail service to many small western Pennsylvania and Ohio Valley communities with introduction of a unique ‘flying post office’ service.

Piedmont Airlines (1948) logo

Piedmont Airlines begins operations.

All American Airways logo

All American Aviation becomes All American Airways and makes the transition from airmail to passenger service with introduction of the DC-3 and an expansion of its service. Pacific Southwest Airlines begins operations with service in California.


Allegheny 9.1.53 Route Map

Above: Allegheny Airlines’ 1953 Route Map.

Allegheny (1953) logo

All American’s route system (above) grows and the name is changed to Allegheny Airlines, recognizing the mountains and river of the same name that lie in the heart of the airline’s network.Allegheny (1956) logo

Allegheny Airlines begins the transition to turbine-powered aircraft with introduction of the first Convair 580, its workhorse for the next several years.

The first jet, a Douglas DC-9-14 (below), makes its debut in Allegheny colors. It is replaced the following year by the first of what would eventually become a fleet of 62 larger Douglas DC-9-31 jets (below).

Allegheny 1966 Route Map

Above: Allegheny Airlines 1966 Route Map.

Allegheny Commuter (1st) logo

The first Allegheny Commuter service begins, between Hagerstown, MD and Baltimore/Washington International Airport by Henson Aviation, forerunner of today’s Piedmont Airlines. It was the beginning of today’s network of 10 regional airlines that provide US Airways Express service to 172 cities throughout the nation.

Lake Central (1968) logo

Above Copyright Photo: Christian Volpati Collection/AirlinersGallery.com. Nord 262A-12 N26203 (msn 13) of Lake Central Airlines.

Allegheny merges with Indianapolis-based Lake Central Airlines, expanding the growing route network beyond Pittsburgh to the Midwest including Dayton, Columbus and Cincinnati, OH; Indianapolis, IN; and St. Louis, MO.

Mohawk (1962) logo

Allegheny acquires Mohawk Airlines, a Utica, NY airline with service to most cities throughout New York and New England. With the merger, Allegheny acquired Mohawk’s BAC 1-11 jets to complement its DC-9s and becomes the sixth largest airline in the world as measured by passenger boardings.

Above Copyright Photo: Bruce Drum/AirlinersGallery.com. Mohawk’s Fairchild-Hiller FH-227B N7819M (msn 542) carries an additional Allegheny sticker at Syracuse.

Mohawk (1967) logo

Deregulation comes to the U.S. airline industry. Airlines have new freedom to expand their route systems and more flexibility to develop new and innovative pricing structures, but lose the protection of the fare- and route-setting authorities exercised by the Civil Aeronautics Board, which closes down by 1984.

Allegheny > USAir logo

Allegheny changes its name to USAir to reflect its expanding network, including post-deregulation entry into Arizona, Texas, Colorado, Florida and later, California.

USAir (1979) logo

America West (1983) logo

America West Airlines begins operations in Phoenix on August 1 with 230 employees and three Boeing 737-200s, serving Colorado Springs, CO; Kansas City, KS; Los Angeles, CA; and Wichita, KS. The airline’s schedule calls for 20 daily departures.

Above Copyright Photo: Jay Selman/AirlinersGallery.com. Leased Boeing 737-275 C-GCPW (msn 20959) of America West Airlines in the original 1983 livery lands at Las Vegas.

America West 1983 Route Map

Above: The original 1983 route map for America West Airlines.

USAir introduces its Frequent Traveler program, which provides travel benefits to USAir’s most loyal customers.

Empire Airlines logo

Piedmont acquires Empire Airlines and its Syracuse, NY hub.

Above Copyright Photo: Bruce Drum/AirlinersGallery.com. Empire Airlines (2nd) Fokker F.28 Mk. 4000 N110UR (msn 11182) taxies from the gate at the Syracuse hub.

Large-scale airline consolidation, a partial product of deregulation, continues. Piedmont Airlines introduces European routes in its system. Competition for the lucrative California market intensifies as local carriers are bought and merged into larger partners. Pacific Southwest Airlines of San Diego becomes a wholly-owned subsidiary of USAir Group in May. Piedmont Airlines, the dominant carrier throughout the mid-Atlantic region of the United States, also becomes a subsidiary of USAir Group in November 1987.

PSA logo

PSA is merged into USAir.

Above Copyright Photo: Bruce Drum/AirlinersGallery.com. PSA’s BAe 146-200 N384PS (msn E2024) taxies to the runway at San Jose, California.

Piedmont (1st) logo

Above Copyright Photo: Bruce Drum/AirlinersGallery.com. Boeing 737-301 N316P (msn 23234) taxies at Miami.

Piedmont Airlines is integrated into USAir, the largest merger in airline history. The merger brings with it Piedmont’s international routes as well as its Charlotte, Baltimore, Dayton and Syracuse hubs. Baltimore and Charlotte remain hubs. The merger also brings USAir’s first wide body jets, the Boeing 767-200 ERs now used on its transatlantic and some transcontinental routes.

Above Copyright Photo: Bruce Drum/AirlinersGallery.com. Boeing 767-2B7 ER N651US (msn 24764) taxies to the gate at MIA dressed in the 1989 color scheme.

USAir (1989) logo

USAir expands its international flying with service between Pittsburgh and Frankfurt, Germany, complementing existing Charlotte-London service begun in 1987 by Piedmont; and in 1991, international expansion continues with the introduction of new nonstops between Charlotte and Frankfurt.

Philadelphia-Paris is added to USAir’s transatlantic schedules in January. Daily nonstops between both Philadelphia and Baltimore/Washington International Airport and London Gatwick Airport are introduced in May.

Trump Shuttle logo

USAir and Trump Shuttle begin a marketing affiliation under which the service becomes the USAir Shuttle. The Shuttle provided hourly service between New York and Boston and between New York and Washington, DC.

Above Copyright Photo: Denis Goodwin – Bruce Drum Collection/AirlinersGallery.com.

USAir’s new terminal at New York LaGuardia opens, as does the new Midfield Terminal at Pittsburgh International Airport.

USAir and British Airways announce an investment/alliance plan, under which USAir gives up its London route authority.

USAir posts its first profitable year since 1988, with earnings of $119.3 million on sales of $7.474 billion. USAir introduces Priority TravelWorksSM, allowing bookings from personal computers.

Stephen M. Wolf is elected chairman effective January 22. Seth E. Schofield retires as chairman after 38 years’ service to the company and three and a half years and chief executive. USAir continues its transatlantic expansion, winning the right to serve Munich, Rome and Madrid from Philadelphia beginning in 1996. USAir introduces ticketless travel. USAir, in a dramatic two-week period, announces what might in time be the largest single order for airliners; then announces a new name, image, identity designed to carry the airline aggressively into the next century. The airline ordered up to 400 new Airbus A319, A320 and A321 narrowbody twin jets for delivery starting in 1998 and continuing through 2009; then within days announced its new identity as US Airways.

Above Copyright Photo: Bruce Drum/AirlinersGallery.com. Boeing 757-2B7 N940UW (msn 27805) displays its new dark blue 1997 livery which tended to fade.

The airline challenged its relationship with British Airways in court, seeking rights to London Heathrow from four U.S. gateways and to require British Airways to dispose of its USAir stock. USAir notifies BA the codeshare between the two will end in March, 1997, and in December, British Airways announces it will sell its shares in USAir and that its three directors will resign.

US Airways (1997) logo

The name US Airways is put into use officially on February 27. Signs, stationery, ticket stock, business cards, advertisements, marketing materials, ticket folders and counters all start to sport the new US Airways blue, red, gray and white identity, and the first aircraft are painted in the new scheme as the changeover approaches. The US-BA codeshare expires in March.


US Airways Shuttle (2nd) logo

Above Copyright Photo: Bruce Drum/AirlinersGallery.com. Ex-Trump Shuttle Boeing 727-225 N918TS (msn 20445) now wears US Airways Shuttle titles.

US Airways Inc., purchased Shuttle Inc., from a consortium of banks. The Shuttle has flown under the US Airways name since 1992, when US Airways became an investor in the Shuttle with a minority ownership stake. US Airways Shuttle flies 17 daily roundtrips between Boston and New York LaGuardia, and 16 daily roundtrips between New York LaGuardia and Washington Reagan.

MetroJet by US Airways logo

MetroJet by US Airways starts service, providing the airline with a low-fare unit to compete in the eastern United States. MetroJet’s single-class, using Boeing 737-200 aircraft, proves highly popular.

Above Copyright Photo: Bruce Drum/AirlinersGallery.com. Boeing 737-2B7 N269AU (msn 22881) displays the unique red fuselage 1998 livery.


MetroJet by US Airways (2000) route map

Above: MetroJet routes in 2000.

US Airways Express introduces regional jets to its system.

US Airways fleet transformation begins with the introduction of the first of as many as 400 Airbus A320-family aircraft.

US Airways first Airbus A320 aircraft enters service with scheduled daily flights between Philadelphia and Los Angeles. The new 142-seat A320 is part of the US Airways plan to simplify and modernize the fleet by adding Airbus A319, A320 and A330-300 aircraft. US Airways expands its international route network by adding nonstop service between its Charlotte, NC hub and London Gatwick. Charlotte becomes the third US Airways transatlantic gateway.

Colgan Air, Inc. joins the US Airways Express nine-carrier network, expanding service to destinations across the East Coast from Bar Harbor, ME to Atlanta, GA.

The fleet transformation continues with A320-family aircraft arriving at a rate of one per week in the second half of the year.

The US Airways Shuttle begins its transformation to an all A320 fleet (below), retiring the venerable Boeing 727s.

Above Copyright Photo: Bruce Drum/AirlinersGallery.com. Airbus A320-214 N106US (msn 1044) for a short time wore US Airways Shuttle titles. This A320 would later be ditched in the Hudson River.

US Airways unveils its enhanced and redeveloped website, usairways.com, originally launched in 1996, offering customer-friendly features that include a streamlined process for checking fares, making reservations, purchasing tickets, checking flight status and accessing Dividend Miles account information. The site begins drawing more than 600,000 visitors a week. US Airways begins service to its eighth European destination with the introduction of Philadelphia-Manchester, UK service. US Airways opens an international reservations center in Liverpool, UK.

Above Copyright Photo: Bruce Drum/AirlinersGallery.com. Boeing 737-301 N350US (msn 23553) wore this unique “No booking fees No brainer” livery to promote the new website.

US Airways takes delivery of its first Airbus A330-300 widebody aircraft, making the next step in its fleet transformation. Six A330s will enter the fleet by the end of the year.

Copyright Photo: Bruce Drum/AirlinersGallery.com. Airbus A330-323 N276AY (msn 375) prepares to land at the Charlotte hub.


US Airways becomes the first carrier to fly the 169-seat Airbus A321. In addition to a common cockpit, which vastly simplifies pilot training and scheduling, US Airways’ A320-family aircraft also have common cabin fittings, such as seats, overhead bins, galleys and lavatories, simplifying cabin service and maintenance.

David N. Siegel takes over as US Airways president and CEO in March, naming other new members of the senior management team over the next several months and undertaking a proactive restructuring plan for the company. As part of the restructuring, US Airways enters Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization on August 11, with the stated goal to emerge as a leaner, more competitive carrier in March 2003.

US Airways begins implementation of a codeshare agreement with United Airlines, introducing customers of both airlines to more than 3,000 codeshare flight segments in the first half of the year, reciprocal airport club use and simplified ticketing and baggage procedures.

Midway Airlines joins the US Airways Express ten-carrier network, bringing expanded regional jet service to destinations such as Jacksonville, FL and Myrtle Beach, SC.

US Airways joins the Star Alliance network, an alliance of member airlines that share networks, lounge access, check-in services, ticketing and other services.

US Airways Group, Inc. files again for reorganization under Chapter 11 of the United States Bankruptcy code on September 14, seeking to restructure operating costs in light of ever-increasing fuel prices and cutthroat industry competition.

America West Holdings and US Airways Group, Inc. announce plans to merge on May 19. Former America West Airlines Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Doug Parker is chosen to run the combined airline.

In August, America West and US Airways unveil the livery that will appear on the aircraft of the new US Airways. Employees of both airlines, some sporting ‘retro’ uniforms heralding back to various periods in the airlines’ pasts, celebrate the new paint scheme as a freshly painted Airbus A320 makes its way across the country, stopping for special events with union leaders of both airlines.

Above Copyright Photo: Bruce Drum/AirlinersGallery.com. Airbus A320-214 N109UW (msn 1065) departs from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in the 2005 livery.

The merger transaction is officially complete on September 27, and US Airways Group, Inc. is no longer in bankruptcy. Stock of the merged airline begins trading on the New York Stock Exchange under the LCC ticker symbol.


Throwback liveries are dedicated mirroring the schemes of PSA, Piedmont, Allegheny and America West. Events are held in the progenitor airlines’ hub cities. The airline posts profits for both the first and second quarters of the year, surpassing analyst expectations and contributing tens of millions of dollars to employee profit sharing programs. The airline employs more than 35,000 aviation professionals and its route map encompasses 3,800+ daily flights serving 239 destinations and 28 countries/territories.

Above Copyright Photo: Jay Selman/AirlinersGallery.com. Airbus A319-112 N744P (msn 1287) departs from Charlotte in the legacy Piedmont livery.


US Airways agreed to add seven Airbus A330-200s to the airline’s widebody fleet to be used to support the airline’s international growth plans.

The airline obtained a single operating certificate from the FAA, hired a new Chief Operating Officer (COO), Robert Isom, and announced plans to build a new 60,000-square-foot flight operations control center in Pittsburgh.

US Airways inaugurated its first-ever service to London Heathrow from its international gateway in Philadelphia. US Airways also announced plans to operate year-round, daily nonstop service to Tel Aviv from Philadelphia, scheduled to begin July 2009. US Airways announced three new transatlantic flights to begin spring 2009: Birmingham, UK and Oslo, Norway from Philadelphia; and Paris Charles de Gaulle from Charlotte. Transatlantic flights in 2009 will total 27 daily flights to 23 destinations.

US Airways successfully activated the airline’s new, state-of-the-art Operations Control Center in Pittsburgh where all flight control and dispatch functions for US Airways’ 1,300 daily mainline flights are carried out.

On January 15, the crew of flight 1549, bound from New York LaGuardia to Charlotte successfully ditched their crippled aircraft in the Hudson River. All 155 passengers and crew survived.

US Airways was awarded and began year-round service from its Charlotte hub to Rio de Janeiro, resumed its Charlotte to Paris service and began service from Charlotte to Rome. Also in 2009, the airline began nonstop flights from Philadelphia to Tel Aviv and from Phoenix to Montego Bay. During the year, the airline entered into codeshare agreements with Qatar Airways, ANA and TACA.

In the third quarter US Airways announced an airport slot transaction with Delta Air Lines. Upon regulatory approval, US Airways will obtain 42 pairs of slots (roundtrip flights) at Washington Reagan and will acquire the rights to expand to Sao Paulo and Tokyo. US Airways will transfer to Delta 125 pairs of slots used to provide US Airways Express service at New York LaGuardia. US Airways also announced that, once the transaction is complete, the airline would provide service to 15 new destinations from Washington Reagan. The airline announced that the transaction is expected to improve profitability by more than $75 million annually.

In October, US Airways announced a strategic plan to strengthen its core network by realigning its operational focus on its hubs in Charlotte, Philadelphia and Phoenix and its focus city Washington, DC. These four cities, as well as the airline’s hourly Shuttle service between New York LaGuardia, Boston and Washington Reagan will serve as the cornerstone of the airline’s network and will present 99 percent of the airline’s available seat miles, compared to the 93 percent in 2009, by the end of 2010.


In March, the airline launched wireless internet through Gogo® Inflight Internet on five of its Airbus A321 aircraft, with the remaining fleet of A321 aircraft outfitted by June. Gogo allows passengers to use their laptops or Wi-Fi enabled mobile devices to access the web, email, log in to corporate Virtual Private Networks (VPN) and access online entertainment options.

In May, Delta and US Airways announced a new agreement to transfer takeoff and landing rights at New York’s LaGuardia and Washington D.C.’s Reagan National airports, which will enable Delta and US Airways to expand service and increase competition at two of the nation’s key cities, and provide the opportunity for additional access to LaGuardia and Reagan National for new entrants and airlines with a limited presence at the airports.

Under the agreement, Delta would acquire 132 slot pairs at LaGuardia from US Airways and US Airways would acquire from Delta 42 slot pairs at Reagan National and the rights to operate additional daily service to Sao Paulo, Brazil in 2015, and Delta would pay US Airways $66.5 million in cash. In addition, the airlines will divest 16 slot pairs at LaGuardia and eight slot pairs at Reagan National to airlines with limited or no service at those airports. The completion of the transaction is subject to certain closing conditions, including government and regulatory approvals. A slot pair is the authority to operate one takeoff and one landing.

Also in July, the Department of Transportation (DOT) tentatively approved the proposed slot transaction, announced in May, at New York-LaGuardia and Washington-Reagan National airports.

In October, Delta Air Lines and US Airways welcomed the decision by the Department of Transportation to approve the proposed slot transaction at New York-LaGuardia and Washington-Reagan National airports, subject to certain conditions. The DOT’s final order represents a clear recognition by the Obama Administration that the slot transaction is in the public interest because of the service benefits and efficiencies that would result in both New York and Washington, D.C.

USAirways logo

US Airways: A Heritage Story. By William Lehman.

Founded in 1937, Allegheny Airlines started its life as All-American Airways. Like several other airlines, it began by carrying airmail for the United States Post Office. All-American started airmail service on March 12, 1939, using the single-engine Stinson Reliant aircraft serving several small communities in western Pennsylvania and the Ohio valley. All-American crafted a unique tail-hook, which hung beneath the aircraft to pick up the cloth mail bags, using the same techniques that the railroads had developed in the late 19th century.

After the end of World War II, with a huge surplus of military aircraft that could quickly be converted to carry passengers, the Civil Aeronautics Board started getting swamped with applications from the airmail carriers to be allowed to carry passengers.

All-American was no exception, which was now designated as a local-service airline. The C.A.B. issued All-American a three-year temporary certificate to carry passengers in January 1949; however, passenger service did not begin until March 7, 1949, using a recently acquired Douglas DC-3 which was configured to carry 24 passengers, 2 pilots, and a stewardess. The C.A.B.’s authority for All-American covered Maryland, New York, Ohio, the District of Columbia, and Pennsylvania.

Already, as of November 1949, All-American was flying 28 flights a day to 36 cities in six states. All-American decided that Pittsburgh would be a good home base for this local-service carrier, which was becoming one of aviation’s early success stories thanks to a route system centered around heavy industry and the East Coast, which was the most densely populated part of the United States. At the time, because of where All-American flew, passengers and employees alike starting calling it “the Allegheny Airline” or “Route of the Allegheny’s.”

Above Copyright Photo: Jacques Guillem Collection/AirlinersGallery.com. Allegheny Airlines’ Douglas C-47A-DL (DC-3) N151A (msn 9471) is pictured in the 1953 “boomerang” livery.

On January 1, 1953, All-American officially became Allegheny Airlines, with 13 DC-3’s making up the fleet. As the 1950’s marched on, Allegheny’s growth continued, but the DC-3’s were limited in range. Allegheny needed another type of aircraft that was capable of flying farther. At the same time, two airlines – California Central and Pioneer Airlines – put several used Martin 202 aircraft that had flown earlier for TWA and Northwest Orient Airlines up for sale. Acquiring the Martin 202’s became the focus of Allegheny’s expansion plans.

Above Copyright Photo: Christian Volpati Collection/AirlinersGallery.com. Martin 202 N172A (msn 9142) rests between flights in the first livery worn by the Martins.

The first Martin 202 began service with Allegheny on June 1, 1955. The Martin 202, like the DC-3, was unpressurized, but the “Martin Executive”, as they were called, quickly became a favorite among businessmen. On January 1, 1956, Allegheny was issued a permanent certificate to carry passengers by the C.A.B. By now, Allegheny had expanded to sixty cities with a fleet of 14 DC-3’s and 5 Martin 202’s; the airline was so happy with the performance and range of the Martin 202 that it would eventually acquire and operate a total fleet of 18 aircraft.

Toward the end of the 1950’s, several local-service airlines needed to move beyond the piston airplanes that had faithfully and safely carried thousands of passengers to the more powerful and reliable turbo-props, and Allegheny Airlines was no exception.

Above Copyright Photo: Bruce Drum/AirlinersGallery.com. A busy ramp scene at Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) as Convair 440-97 N8422H (msn 465) prepares to depart the gate. The propliner is painted in the 1965 livery with the slanted italic titles.

Earlier, Convair Aircraft Corporation of San Diego had produced the popular Convair 340 and Convair 440 aircraft. Due to the arrival of the Lockheed Electra plus the Douglas DC-8 and Boeing 707 jet aircraft, several Convairs were being parked and stored in the deserts of California, Nevada, and Arizona.

Above Copyright Photo: Christian Volpati Collection/AirlinersGallery.com. This rare photo shows the short-lived Napier-powered Convair 540 N440EL (msn 445) parked at the gate.

The Napier Engine Company in England recognized this as an opportunity and immediately began work on converting the reciprocal piston engines to turbo-props for the Convair aircraft. Allegheny management quickly seized this opportunity and leased the aircraft now called the Convair 540 (above), which began service with the carrier on July 1, 1959. Allegheny leadership realized that the Convair 540 was the right choice for replacing the DC-3’s. The Convair 540’s were pressurized, a first for Allegheny, carried 44 passengers, flew faster, at greater attitudes, and had higher daily utilization than the DC-3’s and the Martin 202’s.

Allegheny had decided that it was time to start retiring the DC-3’s and Martin 202’s as they were starting to show their age, so an aggressive program to acquire more Convair 340 and 440 aircraft was started with eventual plans to convert all aircraft to Convair 540 standards with the turbo-prop conversion.

Allegheny (1966) logo

At the same time the Board of Directors for Allegheny decided to change the corporate logo from a “boomerang” to the “speed wedge” (above), which would stay with Allegheny well into the 1970’s. In addition the operations and maintenance base was moved from Washington National Airport in Washington D.C. to Pittsburgh.

However, across the pond in England, Rolls Royce acquired Napier Engine Company. Immediately, Rolls Royce decided they would discontinue the conversion program after only seven aircraft had been delivered to Allegheny. This forced Allegheny to convert some of the Convair 540’s back to piston-driven Convair 340 or 440’s. At the same time Allegheny acquired additional Martin 202’s and Convair 440’s so that the DC-3’s could be phased out and removed from the fleet.

Above Copyright Photo: Bruce Drum/AirlinersGallery.com. The Allison Convair 580 turboprop conversion is seen on N5845 (msn 52).

In 1965, United States-based Allison Engine Corporation, which had been already providing turbo-prop engines for the Lockheed Electra and military C-130 aircraft, offered the power plant for retrofitting existing Convair airframes. Called the Convair 580, it had powerful four-blade turbo-prop engines that quickly shaved minutes off of the piston driven Convair 340 and 440’s. The Convair 580 captured the attention of Allegheny management in Pittsburgh. Without hesitation, Allegheny added this “new” turboprop to the fleet. Allegheny would eventually operate 44 Convair 580 “vistaliner” (above) aircraft.

Above Copyright Photo: Ted J. Gibson/Bruce Drum Collection/AirlinersGallery.com. The Fairchild F-27J were relatively short-lived type with Allegheny Airlines. F-27J N2707J (msn 118) sits at Marana, AZ after its retirement.

Later that same year, Allegheny also acquired the first of ten brand new Fairchild F-27J aircraft (above). With its Rolls Royce Dart turbo-prop-powered engines, high wing, and large oval windows, it was an instant hit with passengers and crews. With the introduction of the F-27 Allegheny started retiring the Martin 202 aircraft. Three Martin 202’s would be reconfigured to carry freight aircraft only.

Above Copyright Photo: Bruce Drum/AirlinersGallery.com. The very first jetliner for Allegheny Airlines/USAir/US Airways was this leased Douglas DC-9-14 registered as N6140A (msn 47049). This rare photo shows N6140A ground-loading its passengers at Philadelphia bound for Hartford/Springfield and Providence.

Allegheny Airlines knew that the jet age had arrived for local-service carriers. West Coast-based Bonanza Airlines needed to lease out a Douglas DC-9-14 aircraft (above) that had been recently delivered to them due to a downturn in traffic. Allegheny entered into a one-year lease agreement with Bonanza Airlines with the first Allegheny jet flight taking place on September 1, 1966.

Above Copyright Photo: Christian Volpati Collection/AirlinersGallery.com. McDonnell Douglas DC-9-31 N969VJ (msn 47421) displays the updated 1966 livery introduced with the DC-9s.

Allegheny would receive their first Douglas DC-9-31“vista-jets” in mid 1967 and immediately place the aircraft into service. This would be the first of more than 70 of the popular twinjet and the start of a long and positive relationship with Douglas and its successor McDonnell Douglas Aircraft Corporation.

In September 1967, Allegheny retired the last of the piston powered Convair 440 aircraft. For the first time, Allegheny operated a pure turbo-prop and jet aircraft fleet, made up of Convair 580’s, Fairchild F-27’s, and Douglas DC-9’s.

The first of what would be several mergers occurred on March 14, 1968, when the Civil Aeronautics Board approved the acquisition of Lake Central Airlines by Allegheny. Allegheny was able to further expand the route system and with the merger pick up important new cities in Indiana, Missouri, and Illinois.

Above Copyright Photo: Jacques Guillem Collection/AirlinersGallery.com. French-built Nord 262A-44 N26203 (msn 11) is painted in the special “wine and cheese” livery. The airliner was also named “Nicole d’Allegheny” in concert with the French theme.

The merger also brought more Convair 580’s, plus a new type of aircraft not previously flown by Allegheny called the Nord 262 aircraft (above). The twelve 29-seat French built Nord 262’s would become a huge headache for Allegheny Operations and Maintenance personnel, due to continuous issues with the Turbomeca Bastan turbo-prop engines that then proved to be very unreliable. Eventually Frakes Aviation in the United States would work to convert the engines to the much more reliable Pratt & Whitney PT-6 engines to finally solve the problem. At the same time the Nord 262 was renamed the Mohawk 298.

Allegheny made a bold experiment with Mohawk 298 aircraft by repainting nine of the twelve aircraft in a purple and gold paint scheme and naming them after flight attendants. The plan was to promote a business atmosphere with select wine and cheese on flights targeting the business community. While this did not last long it did prove to be very popular with passengers.

The Mohawk 298 would go on to faithfully serve Allegheny and the spin-off of the nations first organized commuter feeder to mainline airlines called Allegheny Commuter.

Above Copyright Photo: Bruce Drum/AirlinersGallery.com. The Nord-converted Mohawk 298 N29811 (msn 42), operated as an Allegheny Commuter carrier by Ransome Airlines (Philadelphia), sits at the gate at Philadelphia.

After the merger with Mohawk Airlines, and with the final phase-out of the Martin 202 aircraft, Allegheny found that several cities could not support the larger turbo-prop and jet aircraft due to either small populations or small airports. In 1967, with approval from the C.A.B. the Allegheny Commuter network was set-up. Allegheny Airlines set up marketing agreements with several small commuter airlines that included one-stop check in and seamless travel from the commuter network to mainline Allegheny flights. This included painting aircraft similar to Allegheny as well as providing advertising and marketing.

Above Copyright Photo: Bruce Drum/AirlinersGallery.com. The Boeing 727-200s were operated on the higher-density routes such as Philadelphia-Pittsburgh. This rare photo shows Boeing 727-2B7 N751VJ (msn 20303) departing from Philadelphia.

By mid 1970 Allegheny purchased two brand new Boeing 727-200 aircraft (above) to add capacity to the fleet. However, with the addition of a Flight Engineer, and the high cost of maintaining just two aircraft, Allegheny sold both aircraft to Braniff International as the home office had decided to stay with the twin jet DC-9 and found other airlines willing to lease their DC-9 series 30 aircraft at very reasonable lease rates.

Above Copyright Photo: Bruce Drum/AirlinersGallery.com. BAC 1-11 204AF N1118J (msn 100) taxies at the former Syracuse, New York stronghold of Mohawk Airlines.

The second merger with Mohawk Airlines was approved by the C.A.B. on April 12, 1972. In the merger Mohawk brought to Allegheny twenty-three BAC One Eleven’s (above) and seventeen Fairchild Hiller FH-227s.

At the time Mohawk was in deep financial trouble and needed the merger to survive. Shortly after the merger was approved, Allegheny purchased additional BAC One-Eleven aircraft from Braniff International, which was phasing out that aircraft type.

By late 1973, Allegheny had continued to grow to become the sixth largest airline. Allegheny leadership continued to aggressively pursue new route opportunities and had a constant presence in Washington D.C. to push for more cities to be added to Allegheny’s network. At the same time, Allegheny was able to purchase additional DC-9-32s from Delta Air Lines, which had earlier merged with Northeast Airlines.

By 1974 Allegheny decided that a new paint scheme and rebranding was in order. The current paint scheme was worn out and dated. Gone was the speed-wedge and blue cheatline that had faithfully served Allegheny for over thirty years. The bold new paint scheme featured a large stripe that went from red at the nose to maroon by the tail, with a three-stripe tail in bright red, dark red, and maroon.

At the same time, while other airlines were introducing First Class on their DC-9’s, Allegheny decided against it. Instead, Allegheny used the “Custom Jet Class” to promote the all-coach configuration with new interiors that provided ample legroom with new seats, and overhead bins to give the aircraft a “wide-body” look.

Above Copyright Photo: Elliot H. Greenman/Bruce Drum Collection/AirlinersGallery.com. Short-lived McDonnell Douglas DC-9-51 N923VJ (msn 47665) rests at the Pittsburgh International Airport maintenance base in the new 1975 livery.

The new look premiered with a new aircraft type: the DC-9-51 aircraft in 1975. This new airplane provided more capacity, and kept costs down as it was simply a stretch of the DC-9-31 aircraft. Allegheny thought this would achieve the balance in higher density markets that had been tried five years earlier with Boeing 727-200’s.

However, shortly after delivery of eight aircraft, the DC-9-51 was severely weight-restricted in several key Allegheny markets. What was originally thought would be a benefit was now another headache; reduced passenger capacity, and less ability to carry mail or airfreight made the aircraft too expensive for Allegheny’s needs.

Allegheny and Eastern Airlines entered into an agreement to swap Allegheny’s DC-9-51’s for an equal amount of Eastern’s DC-9-31’s. The final transaction was completed in 1978.

Also in 1978, Allegheny phased out the last Convair 580. While the Convair 580 continued to serve the airline well, a decision was made to have a pure jet fleet and have Allegheny Commuter continue to operate the 580’s. Allegheny was now a pure-jet airline flying BAC One- Eleven and DC-9-31/32 aircraft, with the exception of the 12 Mohawk 298’s.

Allegheny continued to push the C.A.B. for more routes in the midwest and west. While frustration was mounting over lengthy hearings and long delays in being awarded new routes or raising airfares, the mood in Washington D.C. was changing. Airlines such as Texas International, Ozark, Piedmont, Hughes Airwest, and Allegheny called for the end of a regulated market, and lobbied heavily for full deregulation of the airline industry.

In late 1977, President Jimmy Carter signed the “deregulation act,” which would forever change the industry. Allegheny no longer needed permission or approval to start or stop service and for the first time could set its own fare structure.

As deregulation marched forward United Airlines starting parking older Boeing 727-100 aircraft. Allegheny acquired eleven of the popular tri-jet, while at the same time aggressively ordering additional DC-9-30’s from McDonnell Douglas and new 727-200s from Boeing.

Above Copyright Photo: Christian Volpati Collection/AirlinersGallery.com. Ex-United Airlines Boeing 727-22 N7044U (msn 18851) is pictured at Pittsburgh.

At the same time, then Chairman and President Ed Colodny decided the name Allegheny Airlines sounded too regional, especially with planned expansion to the west, which had been a long-time goal of Allegheny. After receiving board approval, Mr. Colodny announced to the world that Allegheny Airlines would become USAir on October 28, 1979.

Above Copyright Photo: Christian Volpati Collection/AirlinersGallery.com. Initially the re-named USAir would operate under the 1975 Allegheny livery. USAir (later US Airways) was a large Boeing 737 operator, operating the pictured 737-200 type along with the updated 737-300 and 737-400 models.

The new USAir would retain the Allegheny paint scheme, and proudly have the new name placed on the upper forward fuselage and tail. However, the white fuselage would give way to a polished aluminum aircraft, which would weigh less, and save money, a technique used successfully for many years at American Airlines. For USAir, this was just another chapter in the story of a great airline.

The Allegheny Airlines Fleet:

Douglas DC-3 24 — 1953-1966
Martin 202 5 — 1959-1963
Convair 340 17 — 1960-1967
Douglas DC-3 11 — 1948-1962
Convair 440 27 — 1962-1974
Convair 580 40 — 1965-1978
Fairchild F-27J/Fairchild-Hiller FH-227 27 — 1965-1974
Nord 262 13 — 1968-1977
Mohawk 298 9 — 1975-1979
Douglas DC-9-14 1 — 1965-1966
McDonnell Douglas DC-9-31/32 70 — 1966-1979
Boeing 727-100 11 — 1978-1979
Boeing 727-200 2 — 1970-1971
BAC One-Eleven 31 — 1972-1979

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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


(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).

American Airlines (current livery only): AG Airline Slide Show

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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.

American Airlines aircraft slide show (current livery only): AG Airline Slide Show

US Airways aircraft slide show: AG Airline Slide Show

USAir aircraft slide show: AG Airline Slide Show

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American expands Embraer 175 operations from Los Angeles

American Airlines (Dallas/Fort Worth) is adding four additional Embraer ERJ 175 American Eagle routes from Los Angeles International Airport. Los Angeles – Austin will be started on May 7 along with Los Angeles – San Antonio. Additionally on June 4, the Los Angeles – Edmonton and Los Angeles – Vancouver routes will also be added per Airline Route.

In other news, American Airlines and US Airways hope to receive a single operating certificate (SOC) in early April from the FAA completing the merger process. US Airways meanwhile has started using the “American” call sign, retiring the former “Cactus” (America West) call sign. The end of US Airways is near.

Copyright Photo: Chris Sands/AirlinersGallery.com. Republic Airlines’ “Brickyard 4231” arrives from Jacksonville at Miami International Airport (MIA).

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Jay Selman’s An Inside Look: Connie Tobias – An Aviation Legend Retires

Connie Tobias – An Aviation Legend Retires

Assistant Editor Jay Selman

Assistant Editor Jay Selman

by Assistant Editor Jay Selman

There are pilots, and there are aviators. When Captain Connie Tobias shut down the engines of her Airbus A321 at the conclusion of US Airways Flight 1967 on March 17, 2015, it brought to an end one chapter in a remarkable career of a remarkable aviator.

Connie Tobias in the cockpit (JS)(LRW)


Above Photo: Jay Selman/AirlinersGallery.com. Connie Tobias in the left seat of the retirement Airbus A321.

Below Photo: Jay Selman/AirlinersGallery.com. The Airbus A321 receives a congratulatory water cannon salute on arrival at Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT).

Connie Tobias A321 water cannon salute (JS)(LRW)

In over 40 years of flying, Connie has logged over 22,000 flight hours and flown over 70 different kinds of aircraft, ranging from a 1902 Wright Glider (below) and 1909 Bleriot (below) to the Airbus A330-300. That, in itself, would be a career to be proud of, but the career of Connie represents so much more.

1903 Wright Flyer

Connie Tobias 1902 Wright Glider (LR)

Connie Tobias 1909 Bleriot (LR)

Connie has not lost any of the feistiness that must have been necessary to break through one barrier after another as a woman born in 1950. She reflects, “When I was a five year old girl, I was expected to play with dolls. I did…sort of. I lined them up at an imaginary airport waiting for the imaginary airplane that I was pretending to be! Even at that age, I was captivated by the lure of flight. In those days, of course, women were not expected to pursue careers as professional pilots.

In fact, when I went to a military recruiter in 1969 to see about becoming a military pilot, I was told rather strongly to go home and be a wife to someone. A year later, I sent a letter to American Airlines seeking employment, I received a similar response. Today, such a response would seem outrageous, but 45 years ago, those answers were generally accepted as the norm.”

Connie Tobias in the Wright Glider (LR)

However, Connie Tobias is anything but the norm. She does not claim to be a rebel, nor is she an iconoclast. She is, however, a strong-willed woman who sets out to accomplish what is important to her. She notes, “People will try to steal your dreams. I refuse to let that happen.” In 1975, Connie, always a fitness freak, set out to bicycle her way across the United States, from California to Delaware. While taking a rest stop somewhere in Missouri, she had her epiphany. “I looked up to the sky and saw a jet airliner cruising high above, leaving a condensation trail in its wake. It was at that exact moment that I decided that there was no way I could spend the next 40 years working in an office cubicle which may or may not have windows. No, that was the moment that I decided that I would do whatever I had to do in order to make the cockpit of an airplane MY office.”

Connie began to take flying lessons in 1975 in Xenia, Ohio. Later, she used a unique angle to build up time. “I washed planes at Ohio University Airport in Athens, Ohio. A freshly-washed airplane needs to be dried quickly, and what better way to dry an airplane than to fly it? I looked for any way possible to build up hours. I flew for a truck and oil field manufacturer, in and out of Eastern Kentucky, West Virginia, Ohio, and Indiana. I earned my Certified Flight Instructor (CFI) rating and built up hours that way. I even flew as a “bird dog” for fire patrol operations, flying single-engine and light twin-engine aircraft. Basically, I did whatever I could to build up flying time.”

Connie’s big break came in 1982 when she applied for a pilot’s position that was posted at Aeromech Airlines, a regional airline based in Clarksburg, WV. She recalls with a wry grin, “The owner of Aeromech was a Greek gentleman, Angelo Koukoulis. The folks in Personnel at the airline accepted my application from Connie Tobias, probably believing that they were getting a Greek man. Of course, I was neither! In those days, female pilots were very few and far between. I was the second female pilot hired by Aeromech Airlines (below). Let’s just say I was generally not greeted with open arms into the fraternity that was almost exclusively male.”

Above Copyright Photo: Jay Selman/AirlinersGallery.com. Aeromech Airlines Embraer EMB-110P1 Bandeirante N615KC (msn 110230) is parked at the commuter terminal gate at Washington’s National Airport in Allegheny Commuter colors in February 1980.

As soon as she was checked out on the Embraer Bandierante, Connie was advised that she would have to earn an Air Transport Pilot (ATP) rating. Using pretty much the last of her meager savings, Connie passed her ATP practical with flying colors, and her written exam with an astounding 99%. Soon afterward, she learned that none of the male first officers at the airline had ATP ratings! Rather than being angry, she made up her mind that the best way to flourish in any environment was to be the happiest, most positive personality that she could be. Before long, she had built up an impressive stack of complimentary letters. While the aviation fraternity was still slow to accept her, it was apparent that the flying public loved her.

In 1983, Aeromech Airlines merged with Cleveland-based Wright Air Lines, and Connie found herself based in Albany, NY, flying the Convair 600/640. While the Bandeirante was configured for 15 seats, it was a new generation airplane. While the Convair held up to 50 passengers, it was late 1940s technology, devoid of any power-enhanced controls. “The Convair really had to be man-handled, and it was quite a challenge for someone of my size. I worked hard to develop the proper technique to control the Convair, and I believe that that helped earn respect and acceptance from some of the male pilots I flew with.”

Above Copyright Photo: Bruce Drum/AirlinersGallery.com. Wright Air Lines Convair 640 N862FW (msn 9) is seen in Miami on October 30, 1983.

Unfortunately, the merger between Wright and Aeromech proved to be a bad marriage and before long, Connie received word that the airline was on its last legs. “First officers for regional airlines were generally earning something below poverty-level wages, and Wright was no exception. I was living paycheck to paycheck, and I knew I had to do something. I had enough money to apply to exactly one airline.” She elected to put in an application to Piedmont Airlines (1st), which was known to be actively hiring women as pilots. In mid-1984, Connie Tobias was hired by Piedmont, becoming the 16th female pilot flying for the company. Today, by comparison, women make up approximately 5% of the US Airways pilot workforce.

Above Copyright Photo: Bruce Drum/AirlinersGallery.com. Ex-Northeast Airlines/Delta Air Lines Boeing 727-295 N1643 (msn 19448) displays the 1974 livery for Piedmont.

In the mid-1980s, Piedmont was growing by leaps and bounds. Connie started out as a first officer on the Boeing 727 (above), a dramatic step up from the archaic Convair. Piedmont proved to be the Land of Opportunity for Connie, and a mere 26 months later, she became a captain on the company’s Fokker F-28. In rapid succession, she graduated to captain on the twin-engine Boeing 737 and later, the larger tri-jet Boeing 727.

In 1989, Piedmont merged with USAir, later US Airways. As the airline added larger aircraft, Connie made a decision to trade in her low-seniority captain’s seat in exchange for a more comfortable lifestyle of a high-seniority first officer. Connie was able to hold a position in the right seat on the transcontinental Boeing 757 (below) and intercontinental wide-body Boeing 767. She later became a first officer on the largest and longest-range aircraft in the US Airways fleet, the Airbus A330. By all measures, Connie had beaten the odds and broken through the glass ceiling, achieving success in a field that had been considered a male world when she began her journey.

Above Copyright Photo: Bruce Drum/AirlinersGallery.com. USAir’s ex-Eastern Boeing 757-225 N604AU (msn 22199) taxies at Miami in the 1989 livery.

Some seven years ago, however, Connie suddenly found herself facing a new battle, this one against Mother Nature. She explains, “To discuss my medical challenges would take another entire article, but let’s just say I had a total of 13 medical issues. Altogether, I was out of work for six years. I was told that I would probably never again be able to pass a first class medical exam that airline pilots must pass twice a year.”

Connie took on the greatest battle of her life with the same tenacity as she faced other challenges. “I was determined to finish my airline career in the cockpit, and not in a hospital bed. To that end, over the course of six years, I required the services of 19 doctors, and was put under anesthesia ten times. This was the biggest battle of them all in my career, and my life.” But Connie has never been one to accept “No” for an answer, and in typical fashion, she fought back. First, she literally clawed her way back into a healthy body. Once that was accomplished, she worked unceasingly to bring her flying skills back up to speed.

Above Copyright Photo: Bruce Drum/AirlinersGallery.com. Airbus A319-112 N765US (msn 1371) painted in the 1997 color scheme departs the runway at Charlotte.


Finally, in 2013, she was restored to flying status with US Airways, on the Airbus A320 family (above). After being off flying status for six years, she was required to fly in the right seat for six months, but in July of 2014, Connie Tobias once again earned the right to wear the four stripes of a captain on the Airbus.

As inspiring as the story of her airline career is, there is much more to the story of this aviator. She explains, “You might say that an aviator has a love affair with the sky. I love flying, and as airliners become more and more automated, it is easy to get a little bit bored. Sure, there are times when I get to exercise and challenge my piloting skills, but I wanted to do more piloting…more aviating…than what airline life was offering me. I began looking at opportunities outside of the airline environment to get my piloting fix.”

That search took Connie to the Collings Foundation, a private non-profit educational facility dedicated to the preservation and public display of transportation-related history, including historic aircraft. For an aviator like Connie Tobias, it was a dream-come-true. “The Collings Foundation gave me the opportunity to fly all sorts of exotic aircraft, from a McDonnell F4D Phantom II (below) to a 1909 Bleriot XI Monoplane. Of course, in order to fly these aircraft, I had to earn a variety of ratings and endorsements, including seaplane and glider and taildragger skills. I also took an extended course in aerobatics and upset recovery. Ironically, while flying the Phantom was one heck of a kick in the pants, it was the Bleriot that required the greatest challenge and the most research…and opened the most unique of doors for me.”

Connie Tobias F-4 Phantom (LR)

It started with Foundation founder Bob Collings running into Connie one day and remarking, “You know, you look like Harriet Quimby. Will you portray her and, while you are at it, learn to fly the Bleriot?” Quimby was an award-winning photojournalist as well as a movie screenwriter who was also interested in aviation. On August 1, 1911, she became the first woman to earn a pilot’s license in the United States. The following year, she became the first female to fly across the English Channel. There is a saying that it is a lucky man who hears opportunity knock, but it is a wise man who opens the door. Obviously, the same applies to a woman, and Connie Tobias proved to be an extremely wise woman who opened the door that led to her parallel career and unique claim to fame. She took Bob Collings’ suggestion and developed a presentation of the life and accomplishments of Harriet Quimby, which she has performed for audiences around the world.

She says, “It is an honor and privilege to be in a position where I can be an inspiration to future aviators, especially girls and young women. In the days when I was breaking into the aviation world, there really weren’t many female role models I could emulate. I’d like to think that between my own accomplishments in aviation and my portrayal of Harriet Quimby, I can inspire others to dream big.”

Flying the Bleriot required intense preparation. Connie relates, “One day, I was watching the movie ‘Those Magnificent Men and Their Flying Machines’. As the movie concluded, I realized that all of the pilots had one thing in common. They all crashed. It was a stark reminder that those early airplanes were very crude in their design, and extremely delicate to fly. I wanted to fly the Bleriot, but I wanted to make darned sure that I was successful. I spoke to the folks at the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome, home to a number of pre-World War I airplanes including another 1909 Bleriot. The Bleriot guru at Old Rhinebeck suggested that I contact another expert in Texas, and I kept following one lead after another, taking in as much as I could about flying an aircraft that was controlled by powered wing warping. Wing warping was a system for lateral control of early aircraft, and basically a precursor to the aileron.” Connie even referred to Louis Bleriot’s writings in her quest to understand everything she could about the Bleriot and wing warping. In the end, she did, indeed, fly the Bleriot, and she flew it well.

Success begets success. The popular concept is Six Degrees of Separation, that we are connected with anyone in the world by six or fewer steps. In the aviation world, it is closer to Two Degrees of Separation. In 2003, the owners of the Wright Flyer collection were looking for pilots to fly both the 1902 Wright Glider replica and the exact replica of the 1903 Wright Flyer, which made the first powered flight. Thanks to her exposure flying the Bleriot, Connie Tobias was selected as one of a handful of pilots to fly the Glider. She wow’ed the organizers by using her skills honed by her tons of research, including hang gliding, by choosing the proper moment to fly the Glider in a near-perfect hover on the sand dunes of Kitty Hawk, NC. Of those pilots, only Connie had previous experience flying an aircraft that utilized powered wing warping. Late in 2003, she became the first and only woman to fly the 1903 Wright Flyer exact replica. When asked what airplane in her logbook was the most memorable, she answers, “The 1903 Wright Flyer. After all, how many men or women can say that they flew that airplane?”

Connie’s commitment to inspiring students with Quimby’s story along with her involvement in flying the 1903 Wright Flyer and 1909 Bleriot has won her special recognition from The National Aeronautic Association and the National Aviation Hall of Fame. Connie has appeared in numerous documentaries, is a Distinguished Graduate of Engineering, holds the Medal of Merit from Ohio University, and has been inducted into the Amelia Earhart Forest of Friendship. She has been generous in her donations to a cause near and dear to her heart, a scholarship fund at her alma mater, Ohio University. The scholarship assists young men and women in pursuit of a career in aviation. She says, “I remember what it was like trying to break into the aviation world with an empty bank account. There were several times early in my career when I was literally down to my last few dollars. If I can help young men or women avoid some of the financial struggles that I went through, I am happy to do so.” This scholarship is appropriately named The Harriet Quimby Scholarship.

Connie Tobias and the Cabin Crew (JS)(LRW)

Above Copyright Photo: Jay Selman/AirlinersGallery.com. Connie poses with the cabin crew on her last flight with US Airways.

Now that Connie Tobias has retired from her airline job, what does she plan to do with all that free time? “Free time? What free time? My last flight with US Airways was on March 17. The following day, my birthday, is being spent packing for a long-awaited trip to a gala birthday party in Paris. I leave on the 19th, and will spend a little time touring Europe. Once I get home, I will have plenty to keep me busy. I plan to do some hiking, learn another language, and play the piano better. I’d love to continue to fly small airplanes and regain those skills. I still have my instructor’s rating, so that is a possibility. I still have a dream of flying a Bleriot across the English Channel. There is a possibility that the Wright airplane collection will be going to China, and if it does, I plan to go over there for that. I have also thought about flying for the Collings Foundation. And, of course, there is still a demand for Harriet, so I plan to continue portraying her as time permits. I expect to have a full dance card for the foreseeable future.”

If that is not enough, Connie is involved with the following organizations”
International Society of Women Airline Pilots (ISA),
Ninety Nines (99’s),
Women in Aviation International (WAI),
Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA),
Aviation Advisory Board and Board of Visitors – Russ College of Engineering – Ohio University,
National Alumni Board of Directors – Ohio University,
National Aviation Hall of Fame – Board of Nominations

Free time? What free time? We can all learn from the life of Connie Tobias. US Airways is losing a senior captain, but aviation is not. No way.

Copyright Photo Below: Jay Selman/AirlinersGallery.com. Fellow female pilots come to salute Connie on her last airline flight and her arrival at gate D7 at Charlotte.

Connie Tobias + Female Crew Members (JS)(LRW)