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US Airways Announces Major Service Changes

US Airways announced a major rearrangement of service today, one that will see large-scale reductions at key destinations and the loss of roughly 1,000 jobs.

In a release, the airline declared it intends to “focus on the airline’s core network strengths, which include hubs in Charlotte (CLT), Philadelphia (PHL) and Phoenix (PHX), and a focus city at Washington’s National Airport (DCA). These four cities, as well as the airline’s popular hourly Shuttle service between New York’s LaGuardia Airport (LGA), Boston (BOS) and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA), will serve as the cornerstone of the airline’s network. By the end of 2010 they will represent 99 percent of the airline’s available seat miles (ASMs) versus roughly 93 percent today.”

The details of this rearrangement largely speak for themselves, so I’ll post excerpts directly from the airline’s release: “US Airways is making the following changes to facilitate the realignment strategy, which dictates matching the airline’s schedule and operation to customer demand:

  • Reducing Las Vegas (LAS) flights from 64 to 36 daily departures by February 2010 as a result of high fuel prices and continued weak demand associated with the Las Vegas market.
  • Closing stations in Colorado Springs (COS) and Wichita (ICT) and moving that flying to more profitable routes across its three hubs.
  • Redeploying the airline’s 15 E-190 aircraft on routes between Boston (BOS) and Philadelphia and on the Boston-LaGuardia (LGA) leg of the US Airways Shuttle.
  • Suspending five European destinations from US Airways’ international gateway in Philadelphia, given the weakness in trans-Atlantic revenue: Birmingham, U.K. (BHX); London Gatwick, U.K. (LGW); Milan, Italy (MXP); Shannon, Ireland (SNN); and Stockholm, Sweden (ARN). Seasonal service to Brussels, Belgium (BRU) and Zurich, Switzerland (ZRH) will transition to year-round service in late 2010.
  • Returning its Philadelphia-Beijing (PEK) flight authority to the Department of Transportation (DOT) until economic conditions improve, while retaining the option to reapply for this authority in the future.
  • Rightsizing and repositioning its crew bases in Philadelphia, Charlotte, Phoenix and Washington, D.C. by closing crew bases in Boston, LaGuardia and Las Vegas. The Las Vegas and LaGuardia bases are expected to close on January 31, 2010, and Boston will close on May 2, 2010.

As part of the initiatives outlined above, US Airways will reduce its staffing by approximately 1,000 positions across its system during the first half of 2010. These reductions include approximately 600 airport passenger and ramp service positions, approximately 200 pilot positions and approximately 150 flight attendant positions.”

Like I said, these changes speak for themselves. US Airways is aiming to strip down its service to the basics: Reliable, money-making routes focused on its hubs. None of this Beijing stuff. These changes also speak for the airline, which, like an overextended army, is pulling back to regroup (pardon the cheeseball metaphor).

For travelers, the impact is difficult to judge. Obviously there are measurable cuts in service, notably to Las Vegas and Europe, but the long-term effects of these moves are less clear. US Airways certainly seems like an airline in trouble, though, and retreating to its hubs—while shedding jobs, closing crew centers, and reducing service—suggests lean years ahead.

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