ei2ksea
Posts: 436
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Question About PSA And USAir Merger

Fri Nov 19, 2004 3:32 am

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)
 
JAXpax
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RE: Question About PSA And USAir Merger

Fri Nov 19, 2004 3:36 am

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.
 
flyboyaz
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RE: Question About PSA And USAir Merger

Fri Nov 19, 2004 3:45 am

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
Catch a ride on a smile!
 
Tom in NO
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RE: Question About PSA And USAir Merger

Fri Nov 19, 2004 4:07 am

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
 
desertjets
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RE: Question About PSA And USAir Merger

Fri Nov 19, 2004 4:15 am

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.
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TWFirst
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RE: Question About PSA And USAir Merger

Fri Nov 19, 2004 4:22 am

>>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.
 
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yyz717
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RE: Question About PSA And USAir Merger

Fri Nov 19, 2004 4:23 am

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.
I dumped at the gybe mark in strong winds when I looked up at a Porter Q400 on finals. Can't stop spotting.
 
flyabunch
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RE: Question About PSA And USAir Merger

Fri Nov 19, 2004 4:44 am

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
 
NWAFA
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RE: Question About PSA And USAir Merger

Fri Nov 19, 2004 5:01 am

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!
 
Cody
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RE: Question About PSA And USAir Merger

Fri Nov 19, 2004 5:20 am

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.
 
Tom in NO
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RE: Question About PSA And USAir Merger

Fri Nov 19, 2004 5:41 am

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
 
ei2ksea
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RE: Question About PSA And USAir Merger

Fri Nov 19, 2004 5:44 am

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)
 
John
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RE: Question About PSA And USAir Merger

Fri Nov 19, 2004 7:19 am

That route map above doesn't include all the Piedmont routes that would be absorbed the following year..
 
SPREE34
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RE: Question About PSA And USAir Merger

Fri Nov 19, 2004 7:33 am

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.
 
willbdsp
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RE: Question About PSA And USAir Merger

Fri Nov 19, 2004 8:30 am

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.
 
luv2fly
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RE: Question About PSA And USAir Merger

Fri Nov 19, 2004 8:35 am

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
 
Matt D
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RE: Question About PSA And USAir Merger

Fri Nov 19, 2004 10:08 am

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.
 
ScottB
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RE: Question About PSA And USAir Merger

Fri Nov 19, 2004 11:18 am

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.
 
aeroman62
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RE: Question About PSA And USAir Merger

Fri Nov 19, 2004 2:57 pm

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.
 
N1120A
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RE: Question About PSA And USAir Merger

Fri Nov 19, 2004 5:28 pm

>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
 
AeroWesty
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RE: Question About PSA And USAir Merger

Fri Nov 19, 2004 6:23 pm

*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
 
flyboyaz
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RE: Question About PSA And USAir Merger

Sat Nov 20, 2004 1:32 am

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.
Catch a ride on a smile!
 
flyabunch
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RE: Question About PSA And USAir Merger

Sat Nov 20, 2004 1:42 am

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
 
N1120A
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RE: Question About PSA And USAir Merger

Sat Nov 20, 2004 1:55 am

>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
 
flyabunch
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RE: Question About PSA And USAir Merger

Sat Nov 20, 2004 2:03 am

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
 
User avatar
jetjack74
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RE: Question About PSA And USAir Merger

Sat Nov 20, 2004 2:12 am

Here's a little webpage with the PSA history to it, http://www.cactuswings.com/psa/
Made from jets!
 
RHSNYC
Posts: 94
Joined: Sun May 09, 2004 12:22 pm

RE: Question About PSA And USAir Merger

Sun Nov 21, 2004 7:03 am

SPREE34.....I think he's implying that the current bus crowd and "Walmartization" of the current airline industry and destruction of the legacy carriers who were around during the "glamour days" of the airlines can be traced to affect of the Southwest Airlines business model. Just a hunch.......
 
m404
Posts: 1875
Joined: Tue Nov 25, 2003 4:43 pm

RE: Question About PSA And USAir Merger

Sun Nov 21, 2004 7:03 am

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 makes a solid north south midwest-midsouth network. Then, looking west goes with a Hughes AirWest that's being depleted due the lack of Howards will and finds itself with a similar route map as US. Called a dumbbell shape by many it has large masses at each end connected by thin lines/routes down the middle. Not the best for routing passengers east and west. Too much energy is wasted trying to be both a transcon and a local.

Here's the difference. Enter a third carrier, Northwest, who wants a local network to feed the intercontinental routes but the western end of this system is being infiltrated by WN and others. If those western aircraft and resources are brought east the strengthen the eastern half it might create a fortresses to defend against this kind of assault and it would be in the original Northwest heartland.

It was absolutely gut wrenching to the Hughes folks to leave what they had created and caused a scism for quite awhile between the ranks but in did work.

This is to explain what I believe was partially the kind of thinking that was going on at USair at this last period of airline reformation - locals to nationals/internationals. the lack of the third carrier was one of many reasons combined with "USAirs consistent high cost markets" this did not work out as well. Imagine if, say, TWA had purchased/merged with USAir after PSA what a different world it might have been.

I will always miss PSA and it's people and the kind of carrier it was and the unique intrastate versus interstate market that created it. Perhaps if the history of WN is researched you can see so many similarities
Less sarcasm and more thought equal better understanding
 
WesternA318
Posts: 4495
Joined: Sun Oct 17, 2004 11:55 am

RE: Question About PSA And USAir Merger

Sun Nov 21, 2004 8:30 am

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 Diego. In the late '40's to early 50's Oakland, and San Francisco were added, and DC-4's, DC_6's and more DC-3's came online. Lockheed Electras then came in the mid-50's. More cities were added, and the popularity of PSA's low-fare operation coupled with the traffic demand of the California Corridor spelled success and Boeing 727-100's were added to the fleet as DC-3's left the fleet, starting in 1965. Other aircraft that followed were DC-9-32's, 737-200's, and L-1011 Tristars (albeit briefly), all of this well before deregulation. Southwest Airlines officers came to San Diego for six months and took volumes of notes on how to run a succesful intra-state airline, hence pretty much everything Southwest is, it carbon-copied from PSA. On December 15, 1978, it addd its first interstate route, Oakland-Reno. In the 1980's flights were added in the Pacific Northwest, Southwest, and to Mexican Pacific Coast resorts. Brand new MD-80's and BAe 146's arrived soon after. In the merger mania of the 1980's, PSA suffered a similar fate to that of its arch-rival, AirCal, and was acquired by the larger USAIr group on May 29, 1987. On April 9, 1988, the airline was completely merged into USAir and the trademark Smile faded away.
Check out my blog at fl310travel.blogspot.com!
 
PSA53
Posts: 2933
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RE: Question About PSA And USAir Merger

Sun Nov 21, 2004 3:50 pm

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 gloss orange fruit colors.
When PSA changed from pink to orange and reds,
the airline used flat paints. I had the pleasure of seeing
the flat colors at LGB and took photos,which are on the
PSA web site.But the flat colors wore off fast with wind turbulence.
To bad.They looked great!


View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © JOSE_CARRENO
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Photo © Michael Carter





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Photo © Ted Quackenbush







Tuesday's Off! Do not disturb.
 
WesternA318
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RE: Question About PSA And USAir Merger

Mon Nov 22, 2004 7:04 am

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)  Big thumbs up
Check out my blog at fl310travel.blogspot.com!
 
clrd2go
Posts: 976
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RE: Question About PSA And USAir Merger

Mon Nov 22, 2004 7:11 am

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
What a long strange trip it's been
 
Matt D
Posts: 8907
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RE: Question About PSA And USAir Merger

Mon Nov 22, 2004 7:20 am

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 either too young to remember or not even born yet-would not know who this great airline was.
 
airplaneboy
Posts: 556
Joined: Sat May 15, 2004 11:59 am

RE: Question About PSA And USAir Merger

Mon Nov 22, 2004 5:53 pm

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 west coast/LAX flights to other midwestern destinations like CMH?

Cheers!
 
N1120A
Posts: 26468
Joined: Sun Dec 14, 2003 5:40 pm

RE: Question About PSA And USAir Merger

Mon Nov 22, 2004 6:17 pm

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 to fly LAX-MCI all the time as a kid on US). Also, didn't they have west coast/LAX flights to other midwestern destinations like CMH?<

When Terminal 1 opened at LAX in the late 1970's-early 1980's, it was actually called PSA Terminal One, because they owned the contract to the place. The City of Los Angeles built it for them and they grew significantly from there. It is why US is still there today. US used to use a lot more gates than they do now (3, maybe), and did try to do some stuff at LAX (they even had a USex deal with Trans States there), but just gave up out of stupidity, as Uncle Herb was doing all his own commercials and growing out of the terminal that we built for PSA.
Mangeons les French fries, mais surtout pratiquons avec fierte le French kiss

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