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US Airways will become a partner in an international airline alliance in the next few months, says chairman Stephen Wolf. At the same time, the airline is gearing up for long-haul expansion with the delivery of the first of up to 30 Airbus A330-300s.

Until now, Wolf has seen no need to forge an alliance as its limited number of transatlantic flights have high load factors. But as capacity grows through the A330-300 purchase, "we are looking at what to do about long-term alliances", Wolf says. An announcement is expected to be made around late September.

All the major alliances have been courting US Airways. While the airline was unwilling to hint at a favoured option, the oneworld alliance led by American Airlines and British Airways is expected to be a leading contender.

US Airways will put the first of ten 261-seat A330-300s on firm order into service on 4 May between Philadelphia and Paris, replacing a Boeing 767-200ER. Later this year, US Airways will offer non-stop Philadelphia-Manchester services and flights to Paris and Frankfurt from Charlotte. Other potential destinations include Amsterdam, Brussels, Milan, Barcelona and Zurich.

On the domestic front, the airline is a major A320 family customer with 400 on order and option and is evaluating the smallest model, the 107-seat A318, for domestic services. Observers believe US Airways might replace regional aircraft with the A318. "We keep looking at the A318, but we have made no decision yet," says Wolf.

US Airways made a net loss of $166 million for the second half of 1999. Wolf predicts a first quarter 2000 net loss due to rising costs. A threatened flight attendants' strike has hit second quarter earnings.

Source: Flight International