7e72004
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What If US Kept Their Western Routes?

Wed Feb 02, 2005 2:48 am

I was thinking...would US be in any better position than it is now if they would have kept some or most of the PSA routes out west? I know Southwest is dominant out there but when i think about it, it seems like US is just getting beat up on the east coast. If they had the western routes i am wondering if they could be in any better of a position. How long did they keep the PSA routes before abandoning them?
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kkfla737
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RE: What If US Kept Their Western Routes?

Wed Feb 02, 2005 2:56 am

In a word, YES! The same goes for Delta with the LA based routes WA flew (of course they still hub in SLC). US Air had pretty much dismantled the old PSA by 1993, when in a very strange move, they decided to start a California Shuttle between LAX-SFO, with flights on the hour. This made US Air "the shuttle airline" with the US Air Shuttle between BOS-LGA-DCA and the US Air Florida Shuttle between MIA-MCO and MIA-TPA on the hour as well. The California shuttle didn't last long and the feeder flights from LAX operated by US Air express were gone by 1994 also.

I'm not sure why US Air didn't stick it out in the west. SWA obviously was a big problem, but US Air with BA's investment in the 1992-94 timeframe had the resources to try and stick it out.
 
AeroWesty
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RE: What If US Kept Their Western Routes?

Wed Feb 02, 2005 3:08 am

How long did they keep the PSA routes before abandoning them?

Not very long at all. USAir bought PSA in 1987, and soon began replacing larger MD-80s with DC-9-30s and 737s on the routes.

According to the PSA History/Oldtimers page at http://www.cactuswings.com/psa/articles/hist.html

USAir moved the MD-80s shortly thereafter back East and moved 737s in their place. The BAe-146s stayed here. Frequencies were cut, fares went up, spirit was removed, and popular PSA programs (Smile High Club, and self-ticketing) ended. USAir decided to shutter most of the division in May 1991, parking the BAe-146s in Mohave and transferring the crew over to other aircraft (mostly 737s.) LAX-SFO flights, the last of PSA's network, were slashed in 1994.

SWA obviously was a big problem

I would say rather that WN filled a vacuum rather than being a problem. Decades of successful services by AirCal and PSA had been dismantled by their respective new owners before WN operated more than the one SFO-SAN route intrastate. In May 1991 when USAir began to shutter most of PSA's old stations, WN made their first LAX-OAK flights, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Cheers.
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HNL
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RE: What If US Kept Their Western Routes?

Wed Feb 02, 2005 4:46 am

I would also suggest that United took advantage of the merger craziness to solidify their strong positions at SFO, LAX and the rest of the west coast for that matter.
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Cody
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RE: What If US Kept Their Western Routes?

Wed Feb 02, 2005 4:49 am

More than one person has told me that SOUTHWEST was one week away from pulling out of the California market, when USAir dropped out first. Now granted it was USAir employees that told me this, but still I have heard it from a few different people.
 
desertjets
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RE: What If US Kept Their Western Routes?

Wed Feb 02, 2005 5:05 am

I would say No.

The entire merger with PSA was ill-conceived and the connectivity between USAir's east coast/midwest network and PSA's west coast network was horribly weak. There were a handful of transcons from major USAir/PSA cities and that was IT. To go from Fresno or San Diego to Ithaca, NY or Harrisburg, PA would still have required multiple stops and changes of plane to work. In a previous discussion someone mentioned that USAir scheduled planes from the east coast out to the west. So a plane might do some east coast hops, fly a transcon segment, fly around the west, and then head back. Bad weather in Buffalo could easily impact whether or not a SFO-SAN flight would go out on time because the plane was delayed due to weather elsewhere in the system. These delays certainly didn't help USAir's reputation out west.


Also bear in mind that the west-coast/intra-California market was pretty crowded in the late 80s. In addition to Air Cal and PSA you had Western, Alaska, America West (which had a pretty extensive intra-California route network in the pre-bankruptcy days), plus United. Really quite a few carriers chasing after a somewhat small pie.
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jfrworld
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RE: What If US Kept Their Western Routes?

Wed Feb 02, 2005 5:38 am

"More than one person has told me that SOUTHWEST was one week away from pulling out of the California market, when USAir dropped out first. Now granted it was USAir employees that told me this, but still I have heard it from a few different people."

I assume you mean intra-california. For WN, the PHX - California market was one of their largest city-pair segments after the intra-Texas flights in the late 80's and early 90's.

WN operated 10+ flights a day on PHX-LAX, PHX-ONT, PHX-SAN and the flights were always packed.
 
N1120A
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RE: What If US Kept Their Western Routes?

Wed Feb 02, 2005 5:53 am

>Really quite a few carriers chasing after a somewhat small pie.<

I assume you are not talking about the heavily traveled intra-state market in the largest and richest state in the country that fills planes and is heavily needed because of travel distances and lack of public transport alternatives as being a small pie. There were too many carriers in the market at one point, but that is only because you have to commit a lot of frequencies and competitive prices to the market, which not all were prepared to do.
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AeroWesty
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RE: What If US Kept Their Western Routes?

Wed Feb 02, 2005 6:29 am

In addition to Air Cal and PSA you had Western, Alaska, America West (which had a pretty extensive intra-California route network in the pre-bankruptcy days), plus United.

That's true to a point. HP pioneered what we thought were odd routes at the time, such as SJC-LGB (or was it SNA, it escapes me at the moment), etc., Alaska wasn't nearly the player it is today, and Western under Delta had already begun to dismantle. Near the end of Western/Delta on intra-California flights, I took what was once a popular flight that had all of 3 passengers on a brand new 737-300. On top of all that Continental was operating "Continental Lite" or "Continental Shuttle" flights, I forget exactly what they were named, that you could catch a seat at the last minute for $39 in coach or $78 in first between LAX-SJC, and double that for the continuation of the flights up to SEA.

More than one person has told me that SOUTHWEST was one week away from pulling out of the California market, when USAir dropped out first

Knowing the timing of it all, and having been at OAK collecting free tickets shuttling back and forth on WN's new LAX-OAK service when the last USAir flight pulled out, I don't doubt it for a second.

Cheers.
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RogerThat
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RE: What If US Kept Their Western Routes?

Wed Feb 02, 2005 8:21 am

The problem was that US Air was a high-cost carrier acquiring low-cost carriers (PSA and Piedmont). This made the low cost carriers costs go up upon acquisition. With Southwest and their low costs setting the fares, US never had a chance in California.

We may see a repeat of this in PHL, unless the post bankrupt US gets competitive with all the LCCs.

 
AeroWesty
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RE: What If US Kept Their Western Routes?

Wed Feb 02, 2005 8:33 am

Even though I never flew them, my recollection from people I knew who did, including one who was a flight attendant for them, Piedmont was far from being a low cost carrier. Piedmont had a first class section (at least on flights to the west), full meal service, etc., and weren't particularily on the cutting edge for setting low fares in the markets they flew.

Is my recollection just a bunch of bullox, or wouldn't they be more considered a full-service legacy carrier nowadays if they'd not been bought out by USAir?

Cheers.
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sprxUSA
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RE: What If US Kept Their Western Routes?

Wed Feb 02, 2005 8:38 am

It was actually "Continental West". I have a schedule for the short-lived operation.

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RogerThat
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RE: What If US Kept Their Western Routes?

Wed Feb 02, 2005 8:42 am

I was saying that Piedmont was a low cost, not necessarily a low fare carrier. This is from my recollection of seeing their CASM figures before the US Air acquisition.

I'm sure the old timers well correct me, but Piedmont's first class cabin was a fairly recent development, perhaps around the time of the CLT - LAX transcon. They were an all coach carrier for most of their existence.

My first flight was on a PSA 727 from LAX to SAN and I only flew Piedmont once. I have fond memories of both.

 
AeroWesty
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RE: What If US Kept Their Western Routes?

Wed Feb 02, 2005 8:49 am

Continental West

YES, that must be it. Did they fly anywhere other than LAX-SJC-SEA? I never flew them any further north of SJC.

Thanks and cheers.
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MaverickM11
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RE: What If US Kept Their Western Routes?

Wed Feb 02, 2005 8:59 am

USAirways didn't drop the PSA network because it was profitable.... However in a twist of irony, it's the East Coast that is now completely over saturated with hundreds of planes on the delivery line while the West Coast currently looks comparably underserved.
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Cody
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RE: What If US Kept Their Western Routes?

Wed Feb 02, 2005 9:42 am

JFRWorld,

Maybe it was the intra-California routes. I am not really sure. I have just had a few people tell me, "Did you know that Southwest was one week away from pulling the plug on the California market when we pulled out first. We just let them chase us out of everywhere."

AeroWesty,

Continental West served San Diego, Portland, LAX, San Jose, and Seattle. That was it. They had plans of going to ABQ, Spokane, and Boise but it never materialized.
 
AeroWesty
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RE: What If US Kept Their Western Routes?

Wed Feb 02, 2005 9:49 am

Cody:

Thanks for that info. Somewhere in the back of my mind I'd thought some of the flights I took went on to PDX, but wasn't exactly sure.

Cheers.
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Tango-Bravo
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RE: What If US Kept Their Western Routes?

Wed Feb 02, 2005 10:18 am

SWA obviously was a big problem

I would say rather that WN filled a vacuum rather than being a problem.


None other than Herb Kelleher would presumably agree with the latter view. In one of his interviews with a business magazine Herb stated that California was an opportunity that was not taken away from US but rather made available to WN by the US decision to abandon the west coast/intra California routes inherited from PSA. Indeed WN had virtually no presence in these markets until after US announced its withdrawal from the ex-PSA network.

Which, moving to the other coast, reminds me that it was much the same at BWI. WN moved into BWI in a big way only after US had announced that flights would be reduced at BWI (a hub US inherited from Piedmont) in a big way.
 
alb222
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RE: What If US Kept Their Western Routes?

Wed Feb 02, 2005 10:38 am

I could never understand some of the mergers. DL killed most of Western, AA killed most of Reno..............why bother if you are going to gut the route structure and let others like WN in for free?
 
Matt D
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RE: What If US Kept Their Western Routes?

Wed Feb 02, 2005 11:17 am

I could never understand some of the mergers. DL killed most of Western, AA killed most of Reno..............why bother if you are going to gut the route structure and let others like WN in for free?

Bro, that's the $64,000 question. It's also one of, if not the biggest problem facing the airlines: they are too shortsighted and operate in a REactive mode as opposed to a PROactive one.

Except possibly for aircraft purchases, most decisions that airlines make (running the gamut from what brand of soft drink to serve to what kinds of meals to what cities will be added/dropped to who to buy or merge with) tend to be spur-of-the-moment, and whatever seems to suit them on THAT particular day. No thought is ever given to the long range consequences. Airlines are indeed hand-to-mouth, day-by-day businesses. Their only concern is "today". Yesterday is forgotten. Tomorrow, let alone 5 or 10 years from now is to be worried about...well.....later.

As mentioned above, PSA was bought largely on a whim because PSA was afraid of American, which had just purchased AirCal, it's main competitor.

USAir, having seen comparable sized airlines such as Western, Frontier, Republic, etc. all get snapped up figured that they might be next and decided to engorge themselves to the point where no other airline would touch them. I guess in that sense, the PSA and Piedmont mergers made sense. USAir was never bought out.
 
AeroWesty
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RE: What If US Kept Their Western Routes?

Wed Feb 02, 2005 11:25 am

PSA was bought largely on a whim because PSA was afraid of American

A little clarification on the "bought on a whim" issue. Again going to the website I linked in reply #2:
American bought PSA's #1 competitor, AirCal, in 1986. OC now had the backing of Sabre, Robert Crandall, lots of resources, and power. One hour after this merger was announced, USAir called. USAir had been calling since 1978, but until then PSA had said no. That day they said yes.

The decision to sell was sudden, the decision to buy was planned and sought for nearly 10 years.
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Tango-Bravo
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RE: What If US Kept Their Western Routes?

Wed Feb 02, 2005 12:28 pm

It's also one of, if not the biggest problem facing the airlines: they are too shortsighted and operate in a REactive mode as opposed to a PROactive one.

The U.S. legacies by their behavior, are obviously afflicted by a self-imposed severe case of "me too" syndrome, driven by a management style that is approximately 110% REactionary. Worse yet, they have allowed their decisions and actions to be dictated by the fallacy "we can only be as smart as our dumbest competitor." From what I can see, this is, in reality, the excuse behind which they hide in attempting to cover up their own stupidity.

Southwest goes along with none of the above dysfunctional thinking (never has, hopefully never will) -- look where it's gotten them... Smile