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Question About PSA And USAir Merger  
User currently offlineEi2ksea From Ireland, joined Jul 2004, 578 posts, RR: 0
Posted (9 years 10 months 3 days 15 hours ago) and read 5085 times:

I was reading a book earlier and having found a piece about PSA and the Californian air market decided to look into who exactly PSA were. I found a few great sites about them but i havent been able to find out exactly what USAir did wrong after the merger, how come in 1987 PSA had a huge network throughout the Coastal west and in little over 10 years there was nothing left of it in the USAirways route system.

Could any seasoned Airliners.net fans fill me in on what happened?

Thanks

Ph


Next Flight: DUB-BOS (EI), BOS-DEN-PDX (SWA), SEA-BOS (AS)
34 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineJAXpax From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 1, posted (9 years 10 months 3 days 15 hours ago) and read 5072 times:

Could any seasoned Airliners.net fans fill me in on what happened?

Essentially competition. The cost structure of USAir (via PSA) and American (via AirCal) couldn't compete well against Southwest who had invaded the west coast at that point, in addition to expansion by America West, Alaska, and other majors all wanting part of the west coast pie.


User currently offlineFlyboyaz From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 2, posted (9 years 10 months 3 days 14 hours ago) and read 5048 times:

Probably one of the sadest airline mergers. PSA was a wonderful airline, a symbol of California and the west coast for decades. They pioneered the low cost model long before Southwest was around. I used to love getting pictures of their smiley planes when I was a kid.  Smile

User currently offlineTom in NO From United States of America, joined Nov 1999, 7194 posts, RR: 32
Reply 3, posted (9 years 10 months 3 days 14 hours ago) and read 5014 times:

Having spent a summer at PSA at ONT during a high school career training course, and obviously, growing up around PSA, AirCal, Hughes AirWest, etc, I tend to be a bit emotional about the PSA buyout. US took one of the best airline's going, and systematically ripped it apart. The PS's and OC's are what made the California Corridor what it is today.

As for US trying to honor the memory of PSA by naming a regional carrier after them, give me a friggin' break. Paint an airplane if anything.

Tom at MSY



"The criminal ineptitude makes you furious"-Bruce Springsteen, after seeing firsthand the damage from Hurricane Katrina
User currently offlineDesertJets From United States of America, joined Feb 2000, 7780 posts, RR: 16
Reply 4, posted (9 years 10 months 3 days 14 hours ago) and read 5005 times:

If you look at a post USAir/PSA merger route map you'll see part of the problem. A strong east coast network and a strong west coast network with not much in between but a few midcons and transcon flights. So in many ways you had an airline with two completely disconnected networks. A passenger flying from Fresno to say Buffalo would still need to make multiple connections to complete the journey.

I suppose in many ways it would have been very expensive for the post-merger USAir to have really developed a strong midcon hub or connectivity between the coasts to make the network work. So in the end you have US slowly conceeding a market they are not familar with to stick to what they knew.



Stop drop and roll will not save you in hell. --- seen on a church marque in rural Virginia
User currently offlineTWFirst From Vatican City, joined Apr 2000, 6346 posts, RR: 51
Reply 5, posted (9 years 10 months 3 days 14 hours ago) and read 4988 times:

>>I suppose in many ways it would have been very expensive for the post-merger USAir to have really developed a strong midcon hub or connectivity between the coasts to make the network work. So in the end you have US slowly conceeding a market they are not familar with to stick to what they knew. <<



Exactly. So what was USAir thinking when they took over PSA? What was the original purpose or strategy?



An unexamined life isn't worth living.
User currently offlineYyz717 From Canada, joined Sep 2001, 16248 posts, RR: 56
Reply 6, posted (9 years 10 months 3 days 14 hours ago) and read 4989 times:

If you look at a post USAir/PSA merger route map you'll see part of the problem. A strong east coast network and a strong west coast network with not much in between but a few midcons and transcon flights. So in many ways you had an airline with two completely disconnected networks.

Brad hit the nail on the head here. Not mention completely incompatible fleets. At the time of the merger, US was intent on building a national airline with strength thru-out the US. Their next goal was to fill in the "empty" heartland. A hub at DEN was discussed. Clearly, this strategy was abnadoned soon after the PSA purchase.



Panam, TWA, Ansett, Eastern.......AC next? Might be good for Canada.
User currently offlineFlyabunch From United States of America, joined Nov 2004, 517 posts, RR: 4
Reply 7, posted (9 years 10 months 3 days 13 hours ago) and read 4956 times:

As a California kid in college, I loved PSA. I used to be able to fly from the bay area to any LA airport for $14.99. If you took the Friday nite 10pm flight from SFO it was $9.99 and was known as the "freak flight" if memory serves me correctly.

In my opinion, PSA was successful because they understood marketing. They were indeed the first of the low cost carriers. Not that they didn't make a few mistakes themselves...like adding three L-1011's for the SFO-LA routes.

The competition did get stronger from the majors and Air Cal in the 80's and the competition and a few mistakes made them more vulnerable to a takeover by a larger company...that did not know how to manage what they bought.

Mike


User currently offlineNWAFA From United States of America, joined Dec 2003, 1893 posts, RR: 15
Reply 8, posted (9 years 10 months 3 days 13 hours ago) and read 4941 times:

I miss the Grinning bird so much!~ Great Airline. Thanks to US Air, we have Southwest. Thanks to Southwest for killing our beautiful industry.


THANK YOU FOR FLYING NORTHWEST AIRLINES, WE TRULY APPRECIATE YOUR BUSINESS!
User currently offlineCody From United States of America, joined May 1999, 1932 posts, RR: 8
Reply 9, posted (9 years 10 months 3 days 13 hours ago) and read 4927 times:

It is believed by many, that had USAir not bought PSA, USAir may not be here today. Carl Ichan was looking to expand his airline empire in the late 1980's and USAir was at the top of the list for a potential buy. USAir management was trying to discourage this. One of the only ways to do this was to gain mass. PSA was in play because AirCal had just been acquired by American. I think it was within 12 hours of the announcement of AirCal's fate, USAir approached PSA about a merger. If they had not someone else would have. Besides the PSA fleet, USAir also acquired PSA Airmotive (later was to become USAirmotive), the San Diego hangar, the San Diego training facility, and resevation offices in Reno and SAN. Initially, USAir made money on the training facility because they were able to get contracts for pilot training in the BAe146 from other airlines. The rest of the operation was a loss almost from the start. With stiff competition, as mentioned in earlier posts, and the added cost expenses that USAir piled onto the former PSA operation (hot meals on flights from SAN to LAS) USAir's west coast network began unraveling and within three years of the merger, the BAe146 was grounded, RNO reservations closed, the MD-80's (now HUDless) moved back east, and all that remained of PSA's route structure was a skeletal system that involved flights between only the major western cities. Not long after that, those routes were completely dismantled and the SAN hangar and the crew bases in SAN and SFO closed. LAX was the last remaining PSA crew base and it closed in 1998. SAN reservations closed after 9-11-2001.

Today, the only thing left of PSA are the employees and most of them commute from the west coast to PIT, PHL, and CLT. Some of the famous PSA stewardesses from the sixties are still at US AIRWAYS! You can meet them by flying US AIRWAYS from PHL to Europe or from PIT, CLT, and PHL to the west coast.


User currently offlineTom in NO From United States of America, joined Nov 1999, 7194 posts, RR: 32
Reply 10, posted (9 years 10 months 3 days 13 hours ago) and read 4900 times:

As I recall, the late night flights between northern and southern California were known as the "Midnight Flyer". And yes, they carried all different types of people, and the flights were themselves events

Tom at MSY

[Edited 2004-11-18 21:43:12]


"The criminal ineptitude makes you furious"-Bruce Springsteen, after seeing firsthand the damage from Hurricane Katrina
User currently offlineEi2ksea From Ireland, joined Jul 2004, 578 posts, RR: 0
Reply 11, posted (9 years 10 months 3 days 12 hours ago) and read 4895 times:

Thanks Cody and everyone else, Airliners.net really is like a huge database...

I found this routemap which shows some of the points made...its definitely true regarding the geographic suitability of their respective networks, suddenly my dream of HP building a hub in CLT post US seems utterly rediculous....

 Smile/happy/getting dizzy






Regards
Ph



Next Flight: DUB-BOS (EI), BOS-DEN-PDX (SWA), SEA-BOS (AS)
User currently offlineJohn From United States of America, joined Sep 1999, 1374 posts, RR: 5
Reply 12, posted (9 years 10 months 3 days 11 hours ago) and read 4842 times:

That route map above doesn't include all the Piedmont routes that would be absorbed the following year..

User currently offlineSPREE34 From United States of America, joined Jun 2004, 2248 posts, RR: 9
Reply 13, posted (9 years 10 months 3 days 11 hours ago) and read 4816 times:

NWAFA..."I miss the Grinning bird so much!~ Great Airline. Thanks to US Air, we have Southwest. Thanks to Southwest for killing our beautiful industry"

How has Southwest killed a "beautiful" industry? ?? ???



I don't understand everything I don't know about this.
User currently offlineWillbdsp From United States of America, joined Sep 2004, 303 posts, RR: 0
Reply 14, posted (9 years 10 months 3 days 10 hours ago) and read 4770 times:

Just imagine if US didn't tear apart the PSA routes, made everything work, and then integrated the Piedmont routes in. That would be one hell of an airline!!

Ah well. Sometimes things don't turn out the way you want them to.


User currently offlineLuv2fly From United States of America, joined May 2003, 12110 posts, RR: 48
Reply 15, posted (9 years 10 months 3 days 10 hours ago) and read 4766 times:
Support Airliners.net - become a First Class Member!

SPREE34

It is a well known NWAFA feelings on LCC's and he chooses them to blame for all of the airline industry whoas! Although WN is good enough for him to non rev and commute on, talk about a double standard.



You can cut the irony with a knife
User currently offlineMatt D From United States of America, joined Nov 1999, 9502 posts, RR: 46
Reply 16, posted (9 years 10 months 3 days 8 hours ago) and read 4702 times:

I really believe that had PSA not panicked [because of the AA/AirCal announcement]and allowed themselves to get bought, they'd not only still be here today, but Southwest would be nowhere near the size they are. It was USAir and American dropping the ball by abandoning their respective PSA and AirCal route networks that opened the door to the Southwest explosion.

USAir not here today?

Big deal. So what if Ichan bought them [US] out? We lost Republic, Western, and Piedmont, all of which were bigger than US and all would still be here today. No one is complaining about them.


User currently offlineScottB From United States of America, joined Jul 2000, 6762 posts, RR: 32
Reply 17, posted (9 years 10 months 3 days 7 hours ago) and read 4649 times:

The problem for PSA was that the airline business itself wasn't making money from about 1980 onward. If you visit http://www.catchoursmile.com and read through the financial highlights, you'd see that the only parts of the company consistently making money after 1980 or so were the non-airline operations. And competition had been getting more intense out west, with Southwest and America West, and Continental West all expanding. Once AirCal agreed to sell out to American (and remember, this is in light of Delta buying Western and Northwest Orient buying Republic), I think it became clear that PSA would have a tougher and tougher time trying to go it alone. They had already asked for and gotten wage concessions from their employees a few years back. In all honesty, PSA's management probably did sell out at the right time.

As Cody mentioned, part of the impetus behind USAir Group buying both PSA and Piedmont was the eat-or-be-eaten airline industry environment in the mid-1980's. They felt they needed to grow large enough to be too much for anyone to swallow. And yes, they (USAir) probably would not have made it to the end of the 1980's, since Icahn was interested at the time. A TWA-USAir-Piedmont merger certainly would have produced a powerhouse in the eastern two-thirds of the country, though.

Once PSA was part of USAir, the problems that folks listed above made things worse. Delays on the East Coast cascaded into the West Coast system due to the way USAir routed the planes. USAir's way of doing business was even more expensive, which meant the airline lost even more money out west, especially with Southwest expanding in a big way on the West Coast. The route network with hubs on both coasts made no sense; a passenger from, say, PDX to BOS would have to make at least two connections. Eventually, USAir abandoned its money-losing West Coast operation.


User currently offlineAeroman62 From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 158 posts, RR: 0
Reply 18, posted (9 years 10 months 3 days 3 hours ago) and read 4563 times:

The fragile mess that is USAirways today can trace its roots back to poorly executed acquisitions, first of PSA, then of Piedmont in the late 80's. The former Allegheny/USAir people were arrogant, treated employees of these two carriers poorly, and in the end paved the way for its current demise. I joined US briefly in the late 80's at their Arlington HQ, and observed first hand how the former Allegheny folks belittled and defamed the PS and PI employees. It was a shame, because all three airlines brought a great deal to the table, had management at AL/US appreciated this, and did a far better, more collaborative integration of the three, then perhaps they wouldn't be facing their current situation.

User currently offlineN1120a From United States of America, joined Dec 2003, 26487 posts, RR: 75
Reply 19, posted (9 years 10 months 3 days 1 hour ago) and read 4524 times:

>Not that they didn't make a few mistakes themselves...like adding three L-1011's for the SFO-LA routes.<

Was not a mistake, until the fuel crisis grounded the planes. They would have filled the things and made a fortune. That is just how popular PSA was.

I agree with Aeroman62 that US missed out on a big chance with the PSA and Piedmont deals. They should have integrated them more slowly (certainly PSA) and connected the dots of the network. Looking at that map, you can see how they needed to be stronger in the middle of the country.



Mangeons les French fries, mais surtout pratiquons avec fierte le French kiss
User currently offlineAeroWesty From United States of America, joined Oct 2004, 20632 posts, RR: 62
Reply 20, posted (9 years 10 months 3 days ago) and read 4521 times:

*BINGO* goes to ScottB for correctly identifying the major reasons USAir's former PSA routes in the California Corridor collapsed - Delays on the East Coast cascaded into the West Coast system due to the way USAir routed the planes. USAir's way of doing business was even more expensive, which meant the airline lost even more money out west ...

For the passenger used to decades of reliable, frequent service, no one wanted to hear they had to wait an extra hour for the next flight due to snow in Dayton, Pittsburgh, etc.

But let's not give too much credit to Southwest for USAir's decisions regarding the market. The way people flew up and down the coast was radically changed in the late 80s/early 90s. USAir was already beginning to pull back flights and close stations before Southwest became a real presence, with all of USAir's service in/out of Oakland ending in May 1991, the same month Southwest started to fly LAX-OAK to expand beyond their single route of SFO-SAN in the state. Southwest merely pulled into a vacuum and fought head-to-head against the one remaining major player, United, who had begun competing head on with them by adding routes such as OAK-BUR with frequent service and low fares, which was short-lived. Continental had previously attempted to invade American's turf at SJC by running DC-9s LAX-SJC for $39 (with some flights continuing onto SEA), which lasted barely a year, if that. During this period America West began running intrastate flights (long ago abandoned), and Alaska was beginning their slow but deep expansion in the lower 48. Throw into the mix that Delta was shedding former Western routes, and American was dropping former AirCal routes. What a mess.

A long tradition of easy, inexpensive flying came to an end. Lacking interline agreements, you can't take your Southwest ticket over to another airline if your flight is running late, as often happened without question regardless of the fare you paid between PSA and AirCal. (Anyone else remember that tickets from PSA's self-ticketing machines were valid either way on the route purchased?)

While it's nice to dream, no one has taken over the extensive networks along the west coast offered by PSA, AirCal and Western.

Cheers, AeroWesty  Smile



International Homo of Mystery
User currently offlineFlyboyaz From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 21, posted (9 years 10 months 2 days 17 hours ago) and read 4467 times:

I hear a lot of stories about PSA from my friend. He grew up in southern California in the late 60's and 70's and loved PSA. They were THE airline to fly in California. He has flown WN many times since then, and while he had few complaints, said they are nothing compared to PSA. They had such an affect on many people. They were locally owned and the pride of San Diego.

I have to believe that had US not taken them over, someone else would have. They, like airlines today, were started in the 40's and by this time would most likely be suffering from high labor costs. A merger with Piedmont would have certainly been much better as Piedmont had good management and would have handle everything better.


User currently offlineFlyabunch From United States of America, joined Nov 2004, 517 posts, RR: 4
Reply 22, posted (9 years 10 months 2 days 17 hours ago) and read 4453 times:

N1120A,

Thanks for the clarification on the L-1011's. I only got a chance to fly on them one time. Their service was so short lived. My first job out of college I was working in downtown LA right under the inbound turn for LAX and I used to love watching them.

The media at the time harped on the mistake and I forgot to consider the gas crisis impact at the time. It had a major impact on a lot of businesses at the time...mine included.

Thanks,

Mike


User currently offlineN1120a From United States of America, joined Dec 2003, 26487 posts, RR: 75
Reply 23, posted (9 years 10 months 2 days 16 hours ago) and read 4442 times:

>Thanks for the clarification on the L-1011's. I only got a chance to fly on them one time. Their service was so short lived. My first job out of college I was working in downtown LA right under the inbound turn for LAX and I used to love watching them.<

The smile looked great on them. I wish I had had a chance to ride one and sit in the cargo hold lounge (as PS did not rely heavily on cargo, they built a lower deck lounge for passengers). At least I have a respectable number of L-1011 rides under my belt. What was the flight like?

>The media at the time harped on the mistake and I forgot to consider the gas crisis impact at the time. It had a major impact on a lot of businesses at the time...mine included<

You know how the media is. PS actually did their best to mitigate the losses by leasing out the L-10s for a good deal of the time that the government would not allow them to fly the Tristars(was due to rationing, they would have probably been able to pay the fuel bills).



Mangeons les French fries, mais surtout pratiquons avec fierte le French kiss
User currently offlineFlyabunch From United States of America, joined Nov 2004, 517 posts, RR: 4
Reply 24, posted (9 years 10 months 2 days 16 hours ago) and read 4434 times:

N1120a,
"What was the flight like?"

The flight I took was SFO-LAX. Midday on a Friday if I remember correctly. I was shocked by how quickly everyone got on board. I was halfway to LA before I even found out about the lounge and you couldn't even get close to it. At 55 minutes per flight, the lounge was not going to get more than one batch of people anyway.

The one thing that really stuck out in my mind was how quickly we got to altitude. Usually on the LA-SF flights, on the 727's you went up and then started down right away. On the L10, we actually leveled off for a while. I loved it.

Mike


25 Post contains links Jetjack74 : Here's a little webpage with the PSA history to it, http://www.cactuswings.com/psa/
26 Rhsnyc : SPREE34.....I think he's implying that the current bus crowd and "Walmartization" of the current airline industry and destruction of the legacy carrie
27 M404 : What do you think of this as a similar scenario but different results and different carriers. North Central teams with Southern to create Republic and
28 WesternA318 : Heres what I know of PSA and can fill in: PSA began operations as an interstate carrier May 6, 1949, using a single DC-3 between Los Angeles and San D
29 Post contains links and images Psa53 : I agree with the point that WN was not a threat to Pacific Southwest or AirCal.When US moved out ,WN moved in. Colors Of A Smile- The pink,flat and gl
30 Post contains images WesternA318 : I am forced to agree with you, PSA53, it wasn't Southwest that killed PSA, it was US. And in turn, US was scared of by PSA mk. II (i.e. Southwest)
31 Clrd2go : Yes, PSA was a great airline..I loved flying them..usually SJC-BUR or LAX..walk right up, plunk down $14.99 and away you go. Jim
32 Matt D : And what's really sad is that were it not for websites such as this, the majority of the people here who call themselves enthusiasts-most of whom were
33 AirplaneBoy : IIRC, US used to have some sort of focus city operation in Kansas City (I used to fly LAX-MCI all the time as a kid on US). Also, didn't they have wes
34 N1120a : Hey, the first airline I ever flew was AirCal...the second was PSA =). >IIRC, US used to have some sort of focus city operation in Kansas City (I used
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