September 17, 2012
Credit: Photo: Airbus
Should merger talks between US Airways and American Airlines fail to produce a combined entity, the Tempe, Ariz.-based carrier will continue to focus on international expansion in Europe until Airbus starts delivering A350s in 2017, when growth in Asia will become a priority.
US Airways President Scott Kirby, speaking at the Boyd Group International Aviation Forecast Summit in Dallas, said that the carrier’s current fleet cannot profitably support Asia-Pacific flights, and that the airline for now will continue to rely on its Star Alliance partners for service to the region.
A standalone US Airways will, however, add capacity to Europe through its Charlotte, N.C. and Philadelphia hubs. According to Kirby, the carrier also is considering “one or two” European markets through its hub at Phoenix Sky Habor International Airport, but again, this expansion is limited by the airline’s fleet as two aircraft are required to operate such a route, compared with only one from Charlotte or Philadelphia.
If US Airways does not merge with American, the airline also will grow in “deep South America,” said Kirby. The carrier already flies from Charlotte to Rio de Janeiro and has the route authority to fly to Sao Paulo, although US Airways is waiting for appropriate slots before launching that service. “South America is still a restrictive regulatory market,” said Kirby, who would not comment on the ongoing merger talks because of a non-disclosure agreement with American.
US Airways, like its domestic peers, also is likely to shift its domestic feed from 50-seat jets to 70- to 90-seat aircraft, noted Kirby.