The answer to the question is simple:
Up to then, they were only as big as the CAB would allow; post-deregulation; the early 80's is when they really doped it up.
was big in ORD
, but for the most part it was regional, small potatoes stuff. With AA
duking it out for the transcon stuff, there was really no place for RC
Remember. Around 1980, RC
had hubs (or focus cities) in the following cities: MSP
The nation's airlines at the time engaged in nothing short of a turf war, not unlike a bunch of street gangs.
So, with UA
in a horse race to one up each other, and not to mention EA
, and TW
all having sizeable operations at O'Hare; considering RC
had a small UN-Challenged hub up the road in MKE
, and bigger, more wide-reaching hubs to the west and east of ORD
; scaling back ORD
was not a hard decision.
The other "Local Service" airline at ORD
, Ozark, was in the same boat...serving places like Waterloo, Madison, Peoria, Champaign etc, they had no choice but to hitch their wagon to a larger partner and abandon ORD
altogether except for hub flights.
At the time, I though RC
would have made a good feed partner for either AA
As for the Western markets they inherited from Hughes Air West, I can only wonder....wonder did why even bother?
began to shrink in 1982.....Guess who was born at the time (maybe not operationally but conceptionally)? America West.