Last Flight of US Airways

US Airways Airbus A319

It’s the end of the line for US Airways. The airline that started as a tiny airmail service 76 years ago is retiring as part of a 2013 merger with American Airlines. The final US Airways flight was scheduled to take off from Philadelphia on October 16th. It’s a small part of a huge trend that’s affecting how more than 660m domestic air travelers fly every year. Fourteen years ago, the United States had 10 major domestic airlines. Now, the competing major carriers have merged into four: American, Delta, Southwest and United. Together, they control about 87% of the domestic market. Is that a good thing for travelers looking for lower airfares? “I don’t think it’s bad at all,” said Brett Snyder of airline industry blog The Cranky Flier. “Fares have come down lately. You still see these guys fighting with each other. But is there as much competition as there was? No, of course not, because there are fewer carriers.” Snyder, who spent more than a decade working for Unit ed, USAir and America West, called it “rational competition” among “smarter airlines” that know how to make a profit. “I guess from the customers’ standpoint, you could argue that it would be better to have 20 tiny airlines losing money and taking you places cheap. But that’s not sustainable.” Folks who think airfares are too high may be interested to know that domestic air travel is 17% cheaper in inflation-adjusted dollars than it was more than 20 years ago, according to federal statistics. But we also have to pay extra on some carriers to check bags and get seat assignments, which used to be included in the price of a ticket.

Source: CNN

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