Notes from US Airways Media Day

I’m still here in Phoenix after finishing up the first day of the Phoenix Aviation Symposium, US Airways Media Dayso I thought this would be a good time to dump all the remaining bits and pieces of interest from the US Airways Media Day. Let’s get going.

If you see something that interests you in particular, leave it in the comments and I’ll try to write a longer post on it if enough people have interest.


  • No surprise that Chairman and CEO Doug Parker started by talking about the rumored talks with United. He opened with “Last week we announced we were breaking off talks with United. That took a little creativity since we never announced we were in talks with United.” You can read more on his opening talk on BNET.
  • Later in the Q&A, when asked why US Airways didn’t handle the leaks about the merger discussions with United better, Doug got visibly agitated.

    We didn’t leak anything. And we think that’s the way you should do business. And I don’t know who did, but the way we do it, we have confidentiality agreements with the other party that we don’t violate. I’m happy to tell you that we were disappointed by how much information about the potential transaction was in the press. These talks went on for a long time and it never got out. I don’t know where it came from, and it’s not the way we want to do business.

    I think we all know where the leak came from. If it wasn’t US Airways . . .

Financial Performance

  • US Airways has a 12% unit revenue disadvantage versus other hub and spoke carriers because of its weaker network, but it offsets that with a 12% unit cost advantage.
  • US Airways has a 23% unit revenue advantage versus low cost carriers, but that’s more than offset by a 29% unit cost disadvantage. Why? Because, as Scott Kirby says, “running a hub and spoke operation is intrinsically more expensive than running a point to point operation.”
  • Prices are up and corporate revenue is improving. Things look good, but they are only cautiously optimistic. You never know what else can go wrong (like a volcano).


  • 2009 was a very good year for the airline with high on-time performance, a low number of cancellations, low lost bag rates, and lower complaint levels. This is primarily because they ran a better operation.
  • They’re running this operation with relatively tight block times. This chart was in their presentation:
    US Airways Block Time Comparison
  • April is a record month for performance so far. For April through the 26th, on time performance is at 88.8%.
  • They launched the Aircraft Appearance Audit Program to make sure that airplanes are clean and the interiors are all functional. Over 1,400 have been done this year with good results.

Customer Experience

  • The new Envoy Suite in business class is getting excellent reviews. It is on 5 of the A330-200s now with the last 2 completed in October (after the summer peak). The A330-300s will get it next year.
    US Airways Envoy Suite
  • Cushions and covers, overhead bin extensions, sidewalls, and inflight entertainment are being spruced up on the 757 fleet that goes to Hawai’i and Europe. The 737-400s are getting cushions and covers as well.
  • Wifi is on 38 of the 51 A321s with the rest finished by June 1. If this goes well, they’ll expand to other airplanes. (In other words, if enough customers use it, they’ll expand the program.)
  • An agreement was just signed with Continental and United to allow reciprocal access to each other’s clubs regardless of who the customer is flying. Up until now, you could only visit those clubs if you were flying those airlines.

Star Alliance

  • US Airways is completely committed to the Star Alliance and is “deepening” ties.
  • More than half of US Airways capacity into Europe flies into a Star Alliance hub. The connecting traffic numbers are staggering and show why Star is important to their international network.
    US Airways Europe Connectivity

    Without Star, or some other type of partnership, many of these flights simply wouldn’t be sustainable.

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