US Airways Group takes wing as one of the nation's leading passenger carriers. Along with its regional affiliates, US Airways serves about 200 cities, mainly in the US and Canada, but also in Latin America, the Caribbean, the Middle East, and Europe. It uses about 340 jets on mainline routes; regional service is provided by subsidiaries Piedmont Airlines and PSA with more than 90 aircraft. US Airways extends its network via the Star Alliance, a marketing and code-sharing partnership led by United Continental's United Airlines and Lufthansa. (Code-sharing allows airlines to sell tickets on one another's flights and thus offer more destinations.)
In a bid to become the largest airline in the US, US Airways Group entered into talks with United Continental (named UAL Corporation at the time) in 2010 about a possible merger of United Airlines and US Airways. But the deal faced labor and regulatory hurdles, and US Airways ended the talks. UAL instead bought Continental later that year and became United Continental Holdings. US Airways has not ruled out a future merger with one of the big three.
For now, the company continues to focus on its four hubs: Charlotte, North Carolina; Philadelphia; and Phoenix; secondary hubs are in New York and Boston. Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport is also a major terminal for the company's business. US Airways combines two main approaches to the airline business: low-fare, low-cost (similar to Southwest Airlines and JetBlue), and international hub-and-spoke, with amenities (like American Airlines and United). To keep its operations running smoothly, US Airways announced in early 2011 that it plans to hire 420 flight attendants and 80 pilots in 2011 to fill those posts left vacant by retirements and attrition.
US Airways Group was not immune to the airline industry downturn beginning in 2007. The company suffered two difficult years of net income losses (2008 and 2009 realized losses of $2.2 billion and $205 million, respectively) before recovery was officially airborne in 2010. While US Airways sales increased more than 20% in 2010 compared to 2009, its net income rocketed from a loss of $205 million to a positive $502 million for the same period. The seesaw ride of fuel costs have from one year to the next either mitigated US Airways' sales losses or put a hole in its fuel tank of profits. Crude oil and jet fuel prices were sky high in 2008, dropped considerably in 2009, only to increase significantly once again in 2010 -- about 22% higher than the year prior.
The company has also boosted its bottom line by imposing new fees (including charges for checked bags, premium seats, in-flight beverages, and pillow-and-blanket sets). Though these ancillary fees are not popular with passengers, they have helped US Airways, and the airline industry as a whole, stem losses. Driven by first- and second-checked bag fees, revenues in the carrier's "other" category increased almost $200 million to reach more than $1 billion in 2009 (an increase of about 21%).
In addition to its nonstop route between the US and China (Beijing), US Airways added flights to Dublin, Ireland, and Madrid, Spain, in mid-2011. US Airways plans to expand its fleet of Airbus wide-body jets intended for overseas routes to fill the demand.