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Thu Dec 28, 2000 5:43 am

A proposed new airline would come out of the United-US Airways merger. The airline DCAir would wetlease 737s. The airline would be based in at Reagn National Airport, and would serve the following destinations:
Kansas City
New Orleans
Little Rock
West Palm Beach
Ft. Lauderdale
Charleston (S.C.)
White Plains
Any comments? Do you think it will work?

"Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear"
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RE: DCAir?

Thu Dec 28, 2000 5:50 am

I forgot to post this in my earlier post, I got this information out of the Airways Magazine Febuary 2001 issue.
"Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear"
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RE: DCAir?

Thu Dec 28, 2000 5:51 am

I'd be extremely surprised if the United-USAirways merger were to go through, because of the near-monopoly that would create--especially in the Washington, D.C. market. DCAir is just a pawn that United would ultimately control for their own benefit, and I doubt that the federal regulators will be fooled.
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RE: DCAir?

Thu Dec 28, 2000 6:28 am

Oh, it's going to go through. Just it won't be DCAir. Look for JetBlue/Airtran/Midway/lowfareairlines to get the National slots.

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RE: DCAir?

Thu Dec 28, 2000 6:38 am

OK, everyone clear the room before DCA-ROC guy reads this post  
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RE: DCAir?

Thu Dec 28, 2000 6:56 am

I think the route structure is a bit too ambitious for a start-up. I'd rather see CO take over.  
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RE: DCAir?

Thu Dec 28, 2000 7:54 am

they list knoxville, and they list roanoke...but they missed us here at TRI!!!! TRI is right between the two, about 2 hours away from TYS and ROA. They also list the aircraft in the Feb. 2001 issue of Airways magazine...8 Dash 8s, 17 Embraer ERJs, and 10 737-200s. i think we at least deserve a Dash 8 down here...we are losing about 50 percent of potential pax (about 250,000/year) to TYS...personally i think they should at least consider flying a Dash 8 to TRI...US Airways Express flew B1900s on the route for a while...not sure what exactly happened to it, but load factors were high

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RE: DCAir?

Thu Dec 28, 2000 9:27 am

DCAir is a product of United's plans to dominate the east and sugar coat their near monopoly. The CEO of DCAir would not dare lower fares to compete with big brother United. If competition is to be kept, the USAir slots should be sold to jetBlue, Midway, Southwest, AirTran, and other low fare carriers.

RE: DCAir?

Thu Dec 28, 2000 2:59 pm

Interesting if DC Air will ever take off. The planes indeed will be wetleased from this new United, so it won't be a clean brake. The fleet is sucifficient 737-200s aren't bad aircraft, reliable and comfortable still used all over the world. I'm curious where 17 ERJs will come from though? US Airways Group owns 0 ERJs. The only ERJs that fly for US are owned by Mesa or Trans States. I don't think UA owns any either, their ERJs are operated by Air Wisconsin, and the CRJs are SkyWest.

As for the Dash8s, US has tons with its subsidiaries Piedmont, Allegheny, and PSA. Piedmont currently is the US Airways Express carrier at DCA, so I would assume the new DC Air Dash8s would come from them. On a recent Allegheny Dash8 from ITH to BOS, I found the plane first-rate.

I know the merger won't go through (the GAO slammed it!), so the topic is moot, but the slots will probably be sold and I would assume Spirit, Airtran, and ATA will attempt to get them under the guise of offering metro travellers low fares. It's clear CO would love to build a strong north-south East Coast system to fill in where EWR isn't viable and DCA would fit those plans well.....

TWA for one, won't be in the bidding. We already have a ton of slots at DCA that we don't use but rather lease out to NWA and other carriers. Love to see a TW DCA buildup with 717s, but not holding my breath.

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RE: DCAir?

Thu Dec 28, 2000 3:14 pm

All the above posters are right about DCAir being a pawn for UAL. They should give all those slots to CO, Midway, Jetblue or even ATA.

This whole DC Air thing reminds me of AA's relationship with Reno Air. They leased out gate and terminal space to Reno and made them a very active participant in the Advantage program. Then when the time was right, made Reno apart of AA. I see the same thing happening with DC Air. If things get approved, DC Air will conviently coexist w/ UAL, then in 3-5 years when the public and regulators get used to UAL's huge presence in the east, United will just buy DCAir.
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RE: DCAir?

Fri Dec 29, 2000 5:24 am

In that same Airways article, the attorney general of Minnesota, who is opposed to the merger, was quoted as saying that DCAir would have to rely on United to survive, and that is the exact opposite of competition. They basically become a franchise carrier of UA, and when the time is right, UA swallows them up again.
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RE: DCAir?

Fri Dec 29, 2000 7:01 am

Is it really neccesary to have another spawn of United?
If UA and US merge, then does that mean that UA shuttle will cease to exist or will it operate the same routes along with DCAir?
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RE: DCAir?

Fri Dec 29, 2000 1:48 pm

I, for one, never understood why UA/US never brought up the possibility of divesting the hub at IAD. I think I read somewhere here that IAD is the smallest of the five United hubs. It exists now so that United has some sort of East Coast presence, but after the merger, the combined United would have The Motha Of All East Coast Presences. Is it wise to maintain hubs at Dulles AND Philadelphia?

Everyone seems to agree that MetroJet will bite the dust, too, which would remove the huge presence of a combined United at BWI. Seems to me if you only get to have a majority presence at one of the three, you choose the high-yield passengers of DCA as the ones you keep. If you must go through the motions of creating a DC Air, base 'em out of IAD. You then have Dulles and the Southwest juggernaut at BWI for the vacationing families, and leave DCA for Senators and Supreme Court justices and the like.
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RE: DCAir?

Fri Dec 29, 2000 3:48 pm

Very funny Mark. I guess I can't disappoint everyone now.  

The UA-US supermerger proposal is a dead letter, especially after the GAO report; Bush won't be any friendlier to the thing than Clinton. The supermerger is corporate welfare for US Airways employees (who want the industry restructured and millions of Americans exposed to fare gouging, so they don't have to lose seniority in an inevitable bankruptcy of high-cost US 10 years or so from now). For United, it's a way to grab market power to crush competition, and a great way for Jim Goodwin to distract Wall Street's attention from his appallingly incompetent management of United.

But it still give me pleasure to count the ways DC Air would not work. See Russ's post (TWAneedsNOhelp) for the details, that way I don't need to repeat them.

United and US are offering Bob Johnson insufficient aircraft to run US's DCA schedule, even with the shuttles and ORD and DEN flights lopped off. Many cities such as Rochester and Buffalo which have all mainline narrobodies to DCA now will have RJs, (which Johnson admits) and I think props on many flights. He'll have insufficient seats which will of course lead to fare hikes. Supply and demand. All of these things will outrage customers and Congresspeople.

So Bob Johnson, who is not stupid, has gone shopping. He's asked AA to buy a 49 percent interest in DC Air to get marketing and capital support. They're interested and pondering the idea. But their money ain't coming without strings attached.

Johnson would inherit his entire fleet from UA and US. And their employees, contracts, and high cost structures. Then he wants money from *other* Big 6 oligopoly carriers to help DC Air make a go of it. What does this mean?

First, Johnson's repeated promises that DC Air will be a low-fare carrier are patently false. His cost structure won't let him have low fares, and Sugar Daddy Don Carty ain't giving money to create a low fare carrier. Big Air would be completely in control of DC Air. It would not be an "independent airline."

Second, those big carriers covet Reagan National slots. American is already leasing slots right and left to add Boston flights--that'll be a shuttle as soon as they can get slots. AA has already ramped up ops big at DCA in the past two years, adding IAH and other destinations.

Which means they will gladly predatory-price DC Air out of business, using the routes where they compete. And get all those slots that are serving 43 icky medium-margin, medium and small-size markets (Rochester, Greensboro, Buffalo, Hagerstown, Albany etc). They will cut these cities and add flights on fat high-margin BOS, NYC, and other dense business markets. IF AA has control thru purse strings predatory pricing might not be necessary to achieve this goal. Like Don Corelone, Big Air likes to do things in the quietest manner possible.

The Big 6 sharks do not want a little fish in charge of a big percentage of juicy slots at a major airport. US Airways has kept a commitment to regional point-to-point service in the Northeast, and their massive regional network at DCA is probably their crown jewel. That commitment dies with the absorption of US into UA.

Better to let market forces work the thing out piecemeal--with public scrutiny--over ten years, than restructure the industry to create three giant major airlines (the unquestionable result of a UA-US merger) who could make sure DCA slots are taken away from medium and small markets.

Bob Johnson would swim in very dangerous waters. DC Air is being set up to fail, and Johnson's own pursuit of Big Air money to prop it up isn't going to help.


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RE: DCAir?

Sat Dec 30, 2000 2:22 am

How would they survive though with UA/US in their areas? Would the larger United Airlines be willing to compete with a carrier that was spun off from its merger with US?
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RE: DCAir?

Sat Dec 30, 2000 7:42 am

Isn't the manager of DC Air going to be that guy who created the BET channel? I forgot his name.
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Sat Dec 30, 2000 2:16 pm

You couldn't be more right my friend! Do you happen to work for the GAO or DOJ?  

There is one more little snafu that ol' Mr. Johnson will have to manage. DCair's regional partner and seed carrier, Air Potomac (or is it Potomac Air? I can never remember), is being created in the image of one of the current USAirways wholly owned regionals, Piedmont Airlines. Potomac's airplanes, ground facilities even there management come from Piedmont. Heck, Piedmont's own CEO is double dipping as Potomacs intrim chairman. The problem is this; USAirways has in effect created a non-union alter ego carrier, an action specifically prohibited in the language of the current Piedmont pilot contract. OOPS!!!

Piedmont's ALPA leadership is playing it cool right now, as a successful US-UA merger would greatly benefit the pilots. However, should the merger begin to look iffy, the senario would probably play out something like this. ALPA would file agianst USAirways Group for violating the contract, and Piedmont would end up retaking all of the assets lost in the abortive attempt to start Potomac. Johnson's DCair would lose it's main feed, thus his plans and those of US-UA would crumble.
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RE: ATRpilot

Sat Dec 30, 2000 4:30 pm

Thanks for the support, it's always welcome! No, I don't work for DOJ or GAO, but I fly DCA-ROC several times per year; I'm a Rochester native who attends grad school in DC. I have been an airline-airport enthusiast since junior high school, and I am very protective of my much-fare-gouged hometown.

How has US Airways managed to set up Potomac Air as to make it a non-union carrier? Aren't all of the employees US Airways and Piedmont people who are covered by their respective bargaining units?

If indeed US Airways is in contract violation, is there a report anywhere I could get hold of that details this? Bob Johnson would really be in deep doo-doo if somehow Piedmont were to be pulled from the scenario. Could Piedmont contract with another major, and suddenly two-thirds of Johnson's airplanes and slots take a powder?

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RE: ATRpilot

Sun Dec 31, 2000 12:04 am

Potomac Air is a wholly owned subsidiary of the US Airways group. Its equipment was provided by Piedmont in exchange for Dash 8-300s which are currently being delivered.

Potomac is a non-union airline for the time being - all airlines START that way...it takes time to organize and, at least for now, there is no reason to do so.

I do not know how this could be in violation of Piedmont's contract, but if someone wants to fill me in I'll be happy to entertain the idea. Since this was an aircraft-sale transaction from one company to another (and not a lease) I dont believe that there is any scope violation at this time. US Airways Express carriers very frequently transfer route authorities from one to another....Rochester is a great example as Commutair and Chautauqua used to frequently "trade" routes. (such as ROC-EWR, SYR-EWR, etc...) Routes an the Express carriers designated to each city-pair are "awarded" by US Airways mainline several times each year. Since some US Airways Express carriers (like CHQ) are not ALPA (they are Teamsters...and heck, Commutair was nonunion althogether!) it is unlikely that the union can get involved with the route selection process....after all, unions are in place to protect employee groups and ensure contract enforcement....not to run the company.

As an aside, I was in Roanoke last week. Potomac Air has set up shop at the old Piedmont hangar on the north side of the field (just east of the old terminal). I saw 2 Dash 8's outside in US Airways Express colors. I asked the groun controller what call sign they used: "P-DC" is the callsign. He said they completed proving runs last week and are slated to begin operations shortly.

Just my 2 cents...

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