US Airways takes off for the last time
USAir planes in Charlotte. (American Airlines / USAir archive photo, circa 1993.)
Charlotte, NC - Mobile app users: Click here to watch US Airways Flight 1939 depart Charlotte for Phoenix
US Airways will fly its last flight Friday as its merger with American Airlines is completed.
US Airways Flight 1939, named for the year the airline was created, will fly round trip from Philadelphia to San Francisco with stopovers in Charlotte and Phoenix.
What is today US Airways is a long history of mergers and name changes that leads up to the modern day American Airlines.
In 1948, Piedmont Airlines began operations in Charlotte. The regional operator carried passengers, air mail, and other freight across portions of Ohio, Virginia and the Carolinas. By 1968, Piedmont Airlines would merge with Empire Airlines, which would merge into the USAir family two years later.
By 1989, USAir was a 50 year old conglomeration of airlines. Its history is traced back to All American Aviation, born in Pittsburgh in 1939 as a Northeast operator. By 1953, All American Airways changed its name to Allegheny Airlines before eventually becoming USAir in 1979. By that time, the airline was looking to expand its service to other parts of the country. By 1989, it would acquire Empire Airlines and its subsidiary, Piedmont Airlines, as a way to expand into the Southeast and other regions. In that same year, the newly combined airlines would make Charlotte one of its regional hubs.
By 1990, USAir had its own hanger and maintenance facility in Charlotte. In 1997, USAir would become US Airways, which a year later purchased a number of regional operators. By 2002, the US Airways Express regional operator had a new 95,000 square foot facility in Charlotte. US Airways Express is now the division that operates the remnants of the earlier Piedmont Airlines brand.
Charlotte became American Airlines' second largest US hub when US Airways and American Airlines merged in 2013. The American Airlines group of companies account for 91 percent of the 44.3 million people who traveled through Charlotte Douglas International Airport in 2014, according to the airport. The airline group employees 11,110 people in the Charlotte area. American operates 770 daily departures from nine cities in North Carolina, providing access to more than 338 destinations around the world.
US Airways' last flight began in Philadelphia shortly after 10a. By Noon, it had arrived in Charlotte. This afternoon, it will continue onto Phoenix and San Francisco, before flying back to Philly nonstop. When it lands in Philadelphia early Saturday morning, the US Airways brand will be retired.
A departure ceremony for US Airways Flight 1939 in Charlotte is scheduled for 2p. fox46charlotte.com and the Fox 46 News mobile app will stream it live.
Fox 46 News mobile app users can click here to watch the coverage
US Airways and American Airlines has already merged its operations and frequent flyer programmers. Starting Saturday, all reservations will be handled by American Airlines and the US Airways Web site will be redirected. Extra customer service representatives are staffing a 24-hour call center to help customers through the merger.
It will take until 2016 to finish repainting all the US Airways planes.