US Airways, once the busiest air carrier at McCarran International Airport when it operated as America West Airlines, will cut 40 percent of its Las Vegas flights by early next year, reducing it to one of the smaller players in the market.
The Tempe, Ariz.-based airline, the nation’s sixth largest by traffic, announced Thursday that it would cut its daily departures from McCarran from 35 to 21.
The company is eliminating point-to-point service from Las Vegas to Boston, Dallas-Fort Worth, Los Angeles International, San Francisco and Fresno, Calif., a service subcontracted to Mesa Airlines operating as US Airways Express.
Most of the cuts will be completed by late November with the last changes occurring by January.
All that will remain on US Airways’ Las Vegas schedule will be five daily nonstop round trips each to Charlotte, N.C., and Philadelphia, one daily nonstop round trip to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport and 72 flights a week to and from Phoenix, all hub cities in the airline’s network.
The airline will cut three daily operations each to Dallas-Fort Worth International and Los Angeles International, one daily to and from Boston’s Logan International Airport, 13 flights a week to and from San Francisco International and six operations a week to and from Fresno on US Airways Express.
The cuts are part of US Airways’ strategy to operate nearly all of its flights to and from hub airports in an effort to increase profitability.
US Airways spokesman Andrew Christie said 72 full- and part-time customer service and fleet service jobs would be lost at the airline’s McCarran station. He said all employees would be offered positions at other US Airways stations.
America West Airlines was the dominant carrier at McCarran in the late 1980s and early 1990s and once operated a “night hub” at McCarran, connecting passengers on the airline’s network through Las Vegas mostly after 10 p.m.
When America West acquired US Airways in 2005 and adopted its name, it closed the night hub because of the rising cost of fuel but operated a schedule of about 131 daily Las Vegas flights.
As CEO Doug Parker considered strategies to stay profitable, the decision was reached to de-emphasize Las Vegas operations as it had done in Pittsburgh immediately after the acquisition.
At the end of 2008 and early 2009, the airline cut nearly 100 flights in Las Vegas and hundreds of employees were transferred or lost their jobs.
When the cutback is completed, US Airways will become the smallest of the major carriers operating at McCarran. But it will be larger than Alaska, JetBlue, Frontier, Spirit and Virgin America airlines.
McCarran officials have said that generally when an airline ceases operations or cuts flights, other carriers move to pick up the slack.