8/02/1983: America West Takes to the Skies

Today in Aviation, America West Airlines took to the skies for the first time in 1983.



August 2, 2023

DALLAS — 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).

Photo: Livesey Collection/Airways (used with permisssion)

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.

Photo: Chris Goulet/Airways

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. 

Featured image: Livesey Collection/Airways (used with permission)