America West and US Airways to Combine

America West and bankrupt US Airways announced a proposed combination that would result in a reduction in the number of aircraft the two airlines operate. Though the two airlines announced they will be the launch customer for the Airbus A350, with deliveries scheduled in 2010 through 2013, a more immediate step will be to return 58 aircraft, reducing the combined fleet from 419 to 361. The combined airline will take delivery of 13 previously ordered midrange Airbus A320s. The A320 is the only single-aisle passenger aircraft to feature containerized cargo, allowing seven LD3 derived LD3-46 containers to be stored in the underbelly freight holds. Its range is limited to 3,400 miles.

The A350 has a maximum range of 9,800 miles and a capacity for six 96 inch by 125 inch cargo pallets.

US Airways’ cargo operation carried 420,887,000 freight tonne kilometers (FTK) of freight from January through November 2004, according to Air Transport World. That was 1.3% of the cargo handled by major U.S. airlines. America West handled 52,664,000 FTK during the same period or roughly 0.2% of the total.

Northwest Airlines leads the combination carriers with 9.7% of the total freight for the 11-month period, followed by American at 8.4%, United at 6.9%, Delta at 5.2% and Continental at 3.3%. The majority of cargo moves on FedEx (42.1%) and UPS (22.0%)

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