Almost immediately after US Airways’ emergence from Chapter 11 bankruptcy in late March, company CEO David Siegel told reporters that the company would place an order for 100 regional jets for MidAtlantic Airways, its new Pittsburgh-based regional unit slated to begin service during this year’s fourth quarter. The company planned to order fifty 50-seat jets and fifty 70-seat jets from either Bombardier or Embraer by the end of last month, according to Siegel. US Airways plans to start taking delivery of the new jets during the third quarter.
During negotiations for the new scope clause in US Airways’ pilot contract, the company specifically fought for weight-limit exemptions that would allow MidAtlantic access to the Embraer 170. Siegel, a former Continental Express CEO and architect of that airline’s ERJ-145 fleet, praised both the Embraer and Bombardier airplanes, but saved explicit accolades for the 170. “The Embraer 70-seater is truly revolutionary,” he enthused. “That airplane has mainline cabin comfort at a regional airline cost.”
In a related move, US Airways named seven-year company veteran Bruce Ashby president of its 10-member US Airways Express division. Ashby will also continue in his role as senior vice president of alliances and assume responsibility for strategic oversight of MidAtlantic. Ashby joined US Airways in April 1996 as vice president of financial planning and analysis. He became senior vice president of planning in September 1998 and senior vice president of corporate development in June 1999.