US Airways Group Inc. is on course to leave Bankruptcy Court protection and merge with America West Airlines today - but Philadelphia-area travelers may not notice much immediate change.
W. Douglas Parker, chairman and chief executive officer of America West and of the merged airline, will mark the event by ringing the opening bell on the New York Stock Exchange this morning.
The merged company's newly issued common stock will trade under the symbol LCC, playing on the industry acronym for low-cost carrier. The combined airline will keep the better-known US Airways name, and will have its headquarters in Tempe, Ariz., where America West has been based.
At Philadelphia International Airport, where US Airways has been the dominant airline for more than a decade, America West will give up the ticket counter and single gate in Terminal D that it has leased from Continental Airlines. America West will move its operations to US Airways' Terminal B-C complex, where banners will have both carriers' logos and a new marketing slogan: "The world's largest low-fare airline."
Similar moves already have been made, or will be made in the next eight days, at 37 other airports in the United States and Latin America served by both airlines.
The carriers will continue to have separate airport staffs and flight crews until unions representing employees at both companies agree on how the groups will be integrated.
Buying tickets, checking in for flights, and using frequent-flier awards will work just as they do now. The airlines are displaying each other's logos on their Web sites and providing the same guidelines to passengers on both sites. Among them:
Customers should continue to book directly with the airlines at www.americawest.com or www.usairways.com, or by their separate phone-reservation lines. The airlines will continue to have separate reservation systems.
Departing passengers should check in, either at a ticket counter or at a self-service kiosk, with the airline that issued a ticket. Signs in airports served by both will direct customers where to go.
Making changes to tickets should be done online or by phone with the airline that issued the ticket.
Members of the airlines' frequent-flier programs will be able to redeem mileage on either network starting next month; the carriers will combine their frequent-flier programs early next year. Frequent-flier miles earned in the US Airways Dividend Miles or America West FlightFund programs before and after the merger will be honored. To redeem mileage on either airline's network before the programs are combined, members of each must go through the one to which they belong.
US Airways filed for Bankruptcy Court protection for a second time in two years on Sept. 12, 2004. While operating in Chapter 11, it was able to reduce its labor and other costs, and in May announced its intention to merge with America West.
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