…So Which Airline Actually Died Today: US Airways or American Airlines?

“A lthough the airline technically no longer exists since the operating certificates of US Airways and American Airlines were combined into one single operating certificate as approved by the Federal Aviation Administration of the United States effective as of Wednesday, April 8, 2015, the last flight to be operated by US Airways will be flight 434 — an overnight flight which is scheduled to depart from San Francisco at approximately 10:00 in the evening Pacific Daylight Time on Friday, October 16, 2015; and is scheduled to land at Philadelphia International Airport sometime after 6:00 in the morning Eastern Daylight Time on Saturday, October 17, 2015 — and the official Internet web site of US Airways will shut down.”

The differences between that paragraph — which I originally wrote in this article back on Saturday, July 11, 2015 — and what actually happened was that the flight number changed from 434 to 1939 to commemorate the year in which the airline was founded; and the actual times of the overnight flight were 10:07 in the evening Pacific Daylight Time when it departed and 5:54 in the morning Eastern Daylight Time when it landed the next day. An Airbus A321 was the aircraft used for the final US Airways flight; and the official Internet web site of US Airways no longer exists.

The question is: was it US Airways that died today — or was it actually American Airlines?

It all started with this announcement back in February of 2013; and although frequent fliers have debated as to who really took over whom, the airlines officially merged on Monday, December 9, 2013 — becoming the largest airline in the world in terms of passenger traffic as a result, taking the title from United Airlines, which in turn de-throned Delta Air Lines on Friday, August 27, 2010, which had become the largest airline in the world on Wednesday, October 29, 2008 when its merger with Northwest Airlines was approved by the Department of Justice of the United States — and the combined entity used the American Airlines name.

The operating certificates of US Airways and American Airlines were combined into one single operating certificate as approved by the Federal Aviation Administration of the United States effective as of Wednesday, April 8, 2015; but even after today, you will still see airplanes sporting the US Airways livery until it is eventually phased out and replaced with the livery of American Airlines, which was introduced — along with a new logotype and branding scheme — back in January of 2013.

Ironically, the original name of US Airways was All American Aviation when it was founded back in 1937; and then the name of the Pittsburgh-based airline became All American Airways in 1949. Now the airline is truly is all-American aviation — at least, according to its “new” name of American Airlines.

Northwest Airlines faded into history in December of 2009 when a single operating certificate was approved for Delta Air Lines; and Continental Airlines became nothing more than a memory in November of 2011 when a single operating certificate was approved for United Airlines, although — as with American Airlines and US Airways — it has been debated in both cases which airline actually survived despite the official name of the airline which survived.

Furthermore, Doug Parker — the chief executive officer of US Airways — had been named the chief executive officer of the combined company. Jeff Smisek was once the chief executive officer of Continental Airlines prior to it becoming a part of United Airlines; and Richard Anderson was once the chief executive officer of Northwest Airlines prior to it becoming a part of Delta Air Lines.

Talks of a merger between US Airways and United Airlines occurred; but those talks were abandoned in April of 2010 when it first seemed that United Airlines would merge with Continental Airlines instead; and amongst many rumors as far back as April of 2008 was speculation of US Airways and American Airlines merging.

Parker wanted to be the chief executive officer of the largest commercial airline in the world when US Airways attempted a hostile takeover of Delta Air Lines back in November of 2006; but his intentions were thwarted by the Keep Delta My Delta campaign. He finally realized his dream officially as of today.

As I have said before, I have little sentiment for US Airways. I never cared for their logos and livery from 1997 onwards. I did not like when they charged a fee to redeem Dividend Miles for an award ticket. I did not fly on the airline as a passenger in its former incarnations — such as Piedmont Airlines or Allegheny Airlines. This does not mean that I wanted to see the airline disappear by any means — it simply was not an airline of choice for me.

The debate about which airline actually died may ensue with arguments back and forth, but FlyerTalk member Hungry Dingo probably said it best on Wednesday, November 30, 2011 — the day when Continental Airlines officially no longer existed as part of its merger with United Airlines: “Think of it as a marriage where the wife is taking her husband’s name, but she’s the one calling the shots? ‘Yes, Dear…’”

Regardless of which airline actually no longer exists today — I will leave that up to you to decide — another piece of commercial aviation history in the United States sadly bites the dust.

Rest in peace, US Airways…or American Airlines — whichever airline died today.

Photograph ©2013 by Brian Cohen.

4 thoughts on “…So Which Airline Actually Died Today: US Airways or American Airlines?”

  1. Nachshol says:

    Well, didn’t the same thing happen with the America West-US Airways merger? Correct me if I’m wrong, but America West was the dominant airline between the two but the new airline kept the US Airways name.
    Again, please correct me if I’m wrong.

    1. Joseph N. says:

      You are correct. America West, run by the aforementioned Doug Parker, bought USAir out of bankruptcy court, technically a reverse takeover.

      If America West had been just a few weeks slower, USAir would’ve been liquidated, as the creditors were about to start seizing USAir’s assets.

      This time too, in spite of the American name surviving, this “merger” is Doug Parker buying American Airlines.

  2. DavidB says:

    It is odd that it’s the takeover airline (or corporate entity) that adopts the taken over airline’s name. As with US and AA. CO and UA. (As you note, the DL/NW takeover is a case where that didn’t happen.) But in both cases, as far as Wall Street is concerned, Continental Holdings bought the outstanding shares of United, as did US Airways the Chapter 11 emerging AA assets. As you’ve pointed out, when one looks through the lineage of US, it has reacquired its original operating name, or as close to it as now is operating. Although just about everyone seems to hold negative views of Doug Parker, we can only hope he doesn’t mimic Smisek who wrought just about every negative to UA. (Some of which, it appears UA’s new CEO has begun reversing. As an ExecPlat and shareheolder in AA, time will tell…

    1. Tdd says:

      UsAir did not buy AA. Was a union supported merger, to kick out AA’s then current management. UsAir had no where near the cash or credit to buy AA’s assets, even in bankruptcy, not to mention the cash on hand. AA’s filing was not for a lack of cash, was to have pilots contact abolished.

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