US Airways Cuts Planned Phoenix-Maui Flight Due to Merger Delay

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (TheStreet) -- As its planned merger with American sits and waits, US Airways is cutting back on a planned service increase.

Anticipating the merger's approval, the carrier had loaded a planned Phoenix-Maui flight into its reservations system, but removed it following the Justice Department's decision to oppose the combination in court. Barring a settlement, the trial is set to begin Nov. 25 in U.S. District Court in Washington.

"Following a previously anticipated third quarter close for the merger, we intended to operate a third Phoenix-Maui flight for the holiday peak period," wrote Glenn Martin, director of future schedules, in an employee newsletter. The flight would have been enabled by a change in the airline's pilot contract, which was set to take effect once the merger was approved. The new contract would have broken the logjam that prohibits cross-use of crews and aircraft associated with the two pilot groups, east and west, following the 2005 merger of US Airways and America West.

The carrier intended "to use an east aircraft with PHX-based crews, which would have been allowed under the combined pilot contract effective on merger close," Martin said. "It would not be effective to crew this flight out of Charlotte or Philadelphia," the sites of pilot domiciles for east pilots. "Because we are already flying eight frequencies to Hawaii," the carrier does not have sufficient Phoenix-based aircraft to add another Maui-flight, he added.

US Airways spokeswoman Michelle Mohr said the planned flight "illustrates some of the benefits to customers that the merger would provide."

On Thursday, U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Sean Lane confirmed American's plan to merge with US Airways, which theoretically marks the end of the bankruptcy court reorganization that began in November 2011. This week, employees of the two carriers will travel to Washington to lobby members of Congress to support the merger, although it is unclear how much ability Congress has to impact the Justice Department.

-- Written by Ted Reed in Charlotte, N.C.

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