Calling it a “Strategic Plan to Strengthen Core Network,” US Airways announced a series of cuts today that will significantly change the way the airline operates. They are dropping several destinations and closing a few crew bases. As part of these changes they expect to remove about 1,000 employee positions.
On the Domestic US service front the most significant change comes with the cuts as Las Vegas. US Air will be reducing service there to 36 daily departures in the next 3 months. As recently as April 2007 the airline operated 131 daily departures. In April 2008 that number dropped to about 100. Today they’re at 64 and in February only 36. They’ve apparently decided that there is no more money to be made in Las Vegas so they’re cutting to the bone. The Las Vegas hub used to be a cornerstone of the America West network. It has fallen mighty far mighty quickly under the US Air brand name.
On the international service front the cuts are equally dramatic. US Air never was a big player in the trans-Atlantic market but they’re basically giving up completely now. They’re cutting service between Philadelphia and Birmingham, UK; London-Gatwick; Milan;Shannon, Ireland and Stockholm, Sweden. In addition they are formally returning the slots for the Philadelphia-Beijing service that the DOT awarded them and which were never actually operated.
With these cuts there are now a few wide-body aircraft sitting around with nothing to do. US Air announced just over a month ago their intention to refit their long-haul aircraft with a new premium cabin. One has to wonder now if those plans are still going forward, especially if they no longer will be operating the routes where the premium cabin can generate the revenue to justify the costs of that seating layout.
The one bit of good news coming out of the announcement is that the Shuttle service amongst New York’s LaGuardia, Boston and Washington’s National airports will remain in place. The Boston-New York route will be switching over to the Embrear E190 aircraft, as will Boston-Philadelphia service.
These cuts are huge. Just a few weeks ago there were discussions going on about how well US Air seems to have weathered the storm and how they might turn the corner back to profit. Apparently that simply isn’t in the cards and these drastic cuts are necessary. It does explain a bit why CEO Doug Parker looked so glum during the press conference yesterday announcing Continental Airlines joining Star Alliance. This sort of thing would weigh on my mind, too.
- A serious upgrade in US Air’s business class
- Slot swaps galore in New York and Washington, DC
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