US Airways tweaks new Washington destinations

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US Airways is tweaking its focus city at Ronald Reagan Washington National airport, cutting flights to Fayetteville, Arkansas, and Ottawa this month.

Jason Reisinger, director of network planning at the Tempe, Arizona-based carrier, says that the two markets "did not make it" in terms of performance out of the nearly 20 new markets that the airline added at National during the past year, on the sidelines of the Routes Americas 2013 forum in Cartagena, Colombia on 11 February.

"[National is] performing right on our expectations for $75 million [in] year-over-year improvement or ongoing improvement in earnings," said Derek Kerr, chief financial officer of US Airways, during an earnings call on 23 January. "National is doing well and we're avoiding the losses that we were generating at LaGuardia."

Cities that US Airways launched flights to include Augusta (Georgia), Cincinnati, Des Moines, Fort Walton Beach, Jackson, Minneapolis, Montreal and Toronto following its slot swap with Delta Air Lines at the end of 2011.

Reisinger says that the airline targeted state capitals and airports near military bases for the new services when it selected cities to add from Washington.

Comparatively, Delta added flights to the top 25 cities in terms of traffic from New York with the slots it gained at LaGuardia airport. These include Charlotte, Dallas-Fort Worth, Miami and Washington Dulles.

US Airways wants to continue its strategy of serving state capitals with its proposed flight between Washington and Oklahoma City. It applied for a single slot pair at National that was vacated by Spirit Airlines for the service with the US Department of Transportation (DOT) in December. The airline disclosed that it would begin twice-daily flights between Charlotte and Oklahoma City as well if it was granted the slots in the application.

Reisinger says that it included the Charlotte service with the proposal because a single daily flight to Oklahoma City would not be viable alone. However, he agrees that Charlotte to Oklahoma City would be feasible on its own but adds that it is not "at the top" of US Airways' list of potential new destinations.

"If we get the National slots, then we'll move it up the list," he says.

US Airways anticipates that capacity will increase by 3% this year, driven by the addition of five Airbus A330-200s for international services and the addition of 16 Airbus A321s and two Embraer 190s to replace three Airbus A320s and 18 Boeing 737-400s.

The carrier will begin flights between Charlotte and Sao Paulo Guarulhos from 5 May, and resume seasonal service to Shannon in the second quarter.