US Airways may make further cuts to its fleet if traffic and yield do not improve, the airline warned last week after announcing a pre-tax operating loss of $282 million for the first quarter of 2003.

The carrier has parked 70 aircraft, including its Fokker 100 and Boeing MD-80 fleets. Chief executive David Siegel says any further fleet reductions would be "modest" and not start until September so as not to disrupt the summer season "and our chances for recovery".

The airline's narrowbody fleet is split between Airbus A320 family aircraft and older Boeing 737s and 757s. Its widebody fleet is a mix of A330s and Boeing 767-200ERs.

US Airways' results - the first to be posted since the carrier emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection - were an improvement on the pre-tax loss of $435 million for the 2002 first quarter. Operating revenue was down to $1.53 billion from $1.71 billion, however. "We anticipate a lengthy recovery of demand," says Siegel.

The carrier's net income for the quarter was $1.63 billion, boosted by the cancellation of liabilities on exiting bankruptcy.

The airline expects to announce large orders for regional jets in May. The deal is expected to be split between Bombardier CRJ200s and Embraer ERJ 170/175s.

Source: Flight International