MIAMI – Today in Aviation, America West Airlines (HP) took to the skies for the first time in 1983. The carrier’s inaugural flights operated from Phoenix (PHX) to Kansas City (MCI), Colorado Springs (COS), Wichita (ICT), and Los Angeles (LAX).

Known as a “darling of deregulation” the airline had been established two years earlier by Aviation Consultant Ed Beauvais.

The first of three Boeing 737-200s (N126AW) arrived in June 1983. An order was also placed with Boeing for two brand new 737-300s, with deliveries commencing in February 1985.

The Boeing 757 joined the fleet on May 11, 1987. Six examples were sourced from Republic Airlines (RC) following its takeover by Northwest Airlines (NW). The 757 allowed HP to inaugurate services from PHX to Chicago (ORD), New York (JFK), and Baltimore (BWI).

This eye-catching ‘Phoenix Suns’ livery was added to Boeing 757 N907AW in 1994. (Photo: JetPix (GFDL 1.2 http://www.gnu.org/licenses/old-licenses/fdl-1.2.html or GFDL 1.2 http://www.gnu.org/licenses/old-licenses/fdl-1.2.html), via Wikimedia Commons)

Jumbo Era


In 1989 America West welcomed two Boeing 747-200Bs, sourced from KLM. The jets inaugurated a new “Bird of Paradise” service from PHX and Las Vegas (LAS) to Honolulu (HNL) and Nagoya (NKM). Two more 747s arrived in 1990 and were placed on its flagship New York route. The airline then placed an order for two Boeing 747-400s.

However, in June 1991 America West entered bankruptcy protection. A major restructuring was entered with loss-making routes trimmed and the 747s removed. When the airline emerged from bankruptcy in 1994, a new color scheme was unveiled.

America West entered the Jumbo Jet era in 1989. N533AW joined the fleet from KLM in October. (Photo: Aero Icarus from Zürich, Switzerland, CC BY-SA 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

US Airways Merger 


On September 27, 2005, America West and US Airways merged. The combined carriers took on the US Airways name, flying under the “CACTUS” callsign.

US Airways was then taken over by American Airlines in 2015 creating the largest airline in the world. Today, America West lives on as part of American Airlines “Heritage Liveries” painted on Airbus A319 N838AW. 

America West lives on through American Airlines “Heritage Liveries” on N838AW, originally delivered to HP in November 2005. Photo: American Airlines

Featured image: America West Airlines Airbus A320-232, N651AW@LAS,17.04.2003. Photo: Aero Icarus from Zürich, Switzerland, CC BY-SA 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons