I enjoy following the progress of this great airline. I would never claim that it is a superior airline, but I certainly wouldn't rule that out in the future. This is the only company to attain "major airline" status in the post-deregulation era. This says a lot. They chose a prime location for growth: Phoenix, followed shortly by Las Vegas. Phoenix also happens to be Southwest's largest station--how's that for competition? Southwest has incapacitated many larger airlines and eliminated smaller ones in any competing markets.
In the early nineties America West became an early adopter of Airbus, whose favorable terms and delivery schedule may have helped the airline through its bankruptcy. They operate some early, pre-100 C/N A320s originally destined for Braniff. They always have had lofty aspirations as evidenced by the operation of 747s to places such as Hawaii and Japan. They acquired RR-powered 757s from Northwest after NW's merger with Republic. Unfortunately, this same ambition came back to haunt them during the Gulf War period when fuel prices jumped, and they went under Chapter 11. As they say, whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger. HP is now a leaner, more financially stable airline poised to compete in the 21st century. They are increasing frequencies and trying to appeal more to high-yield biz travelers. They are currently receiving brand-new A320s and A319s, which look sharp with new interiors. AWA has finally gotten smart and signed contracts with Maintenance and Flight Attendant unions. A major error in the mid-90s was the outsourcing of heavy MX--they have since admitted the mistake and have increased in-house MX at the PHX facility, although not enough. A successful airline requires happy employees.
I would like to see them get more 757s, since 13 is not enough for efficient hub ops. There was talk of 757 service to Hawaii, but the A/C were never ETOPS-certified (apparently, that kind of thing is costly). They need service in the Southeast US and non-stops to the West Coast from Columbus would be great. The theme-schemes need to go; they are unprofessional and unrecognized (albeit eye-catching [but so is their standard scheme]).
Their 737-100 (Phoenix Suns) is a legend. It was originally operated by Singapore Airlines followed by Air Florida. After that, it went to Venezuela for a stint. America west eventually found it in the tall grass at the end of some runway in Panama (apparently it was used by some drug-lords, so the story goes). Also, it has more rivets in it than the rest of the fleet combined.
The airline has caused no fatalities (although a few old snowbirds have been found D.O.A. in the lavs, ha ha), and their pilots are top notch. I just would like them to get rid of some of the older equipment, or at least paint it. As the titles on the older aircraft fade, they just paint over the maroon letters, making them dark again.
A TWA buyout won't happen unless TWA gives it away. Rumors of mergers always persist. UA was the only serious one. I heard a while ago they were buying ATA and were going to incorporate those 757s into the regular fleet and used the L-1011s and the 727s as a separate charter operation--whatever.
For those of you who have had bad flights on AWA, don't expect Pacific-Rim Flagship service. You should at least get a "Snack-Sack" (how unappealing is that?) on any flight where a movie would be shown (i.e. longer than 3 hrs.) Their first class is, on average, as good as any domestic first class service with good meals yet inconsistent service.
I'm looking forward to seeing this airline grow into a strong, quality company.
Thanks for your time.