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Us Air to try CLT-HNL

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Honey Ryder
Feb 26, 2004

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Despite the economy, US Airways(LCC Quote) continues to grow its largest hub and try ambitious new destinations, including Honolulu starting Dec. 17.

US Airways' problem, both decades before and four years after a 2005 merger with America West, has been its lack of a world-class hub such as Atlanta, Chicago, or Newark. Instead, US Airways has Charlotte-Douglas, a great airport in a too-small city; Philadelphia International, a constricted airport in a major city, and Phoenix, which generally lacks high-yield markets.
Still, Mike Britman, the carrier's managing director of strategic planning and champion of the Honolulu route, dismissed a reporter's characterization of the route, saying, "We don't think this is a gutsy move at all."

In a harsh environment where industry domestic capacity will shrink 8% to 10% this year, Hawaii is "an outlier (which) has been doing very well out of Phoenix (and) is an environment where carriers can generate profitability," he said.

The Hawaii market has strengthened since two leading carriers, Aloha and ATA, shut down in the second quarter of 2008. Contrary to long-held industry belief, Hawaii is no longer a low-yield destination offered primarily to reward frequent flier passengers, Britman says, noting: "This is a frequent flier benefit we're happy to provide, but economics justify the flight."

Currently, only two East Coast cities, Atlanta and Newark, hubs for Delta(DAL Quote) and Continental(CAL Quote), have non-stop Hawaii flights. "It's difficult to get from the East Coast to Hawaii," Britman says. "We feel the demand is greater than the supply of seats." Even in Southeast markets where US Airways is strong, passengers may choose Delta to Hawaii.

US Airways offers seven daily flights from Phoenix to four Hawaii cities. Typically, US Airways' Charlotte-Hawaii passengers would connect to one of those flights, but the carrier's seven daily Charlotte-Phoenix flights generally carry high loads, with most passengers connecting to various western cities. Sometimes, potential Hawaii passengers are shut out.

Another factor is that US Airways suddenly has a long-range Boeing 767 available for the 10-hour, 14 minute trip. It recently took delivery of its first Airbus A330 and will take eight more over two years, even as some transatlantic destinations face seasonal shutdowns this fall.
Charlotte-Honolulu will be the airline's third-longest flight. Tel Aviv-Philadelphia, which starts Thursday, is 12 hours and 55 minutes, with an 11-hour and 15-minute return. Charlotte-Rio De Janeiro, which starts in December, is a few minutes shorter than Charlotte-Honolulu.

The Charlotte hub is growing despite continued industrywide downsizing and troubles in the banking sector, which is strongly represented in Charlotte. In Charlotte, Wells Fargo(WFC Quote) employs about 19,500 after it acquired Wachovia, and Bank of America(BAC Quote) employs about 15,000. More layoffs are anticipated, including 548 planned at Wachovia through July, and an undisclosed number at Bank of America.

"Charlotte is more than banking: it is very well diversified," Britman says. Additionally, "banking people still need to fly," he says. From Charlotte, US Airways has 568 daily departures to 126 destinations.

Among the Honolulu flight's backers is Mike Flores, president of the US Airways chapter of the Association of Flight Attendants. Flores recalls that US Airways looked at adding a Honolulu flight before the 2005 merger, but couldn't justify the station cost. "It's a cost issue when you have only one flight to a destination," he says. "But now the station, the personnel, the catering, and the infrastructure are already in place."

The planned new flight also puts US Airways' mid-decade merger fervor in perspective. While the merger with America West enabled the Honolulu flight, a proposed 2006 merger with Delta would have prevented it, because Atlanta remains a better place to gather passengers than Charlotte is.

Flores says more merger benefits could accrue were US Airways to resolve its labor integration issues. Four years after the merger occurred, he says, "we are essentially running two airlines" because labor contracts remain separate. "There are some operational benefits in place, but they are not nearly as extensive as they could be," he says.
Confused me as well. I think what they meant was the first delivery of an A-330 from this current order.
USAir should dump the buses and get some triple 7's, much better plane for the job and they won't come apart in flight

Don't forget to ask BA about an in-flight breakup around Mount Fuji 43 years ago ... (G-APFE)

Let's go back to the DC-9s and F100s! Screw this widebody cr@p! ;)
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Let's do a little math here. More A330s means more flightcrews (not sure how many crews/plane for long haul), new routes to GRU, BHX etc. and still no recalls. Weird...
Let's do a little math here. More A330s means more flightcrews (not sure how many crews/plane for long haul), new routes to GRU, BHX etc. and still no recalls. Weird...

I was thinking the same thing. Can I come back to work yet?

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