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#TBT (Throwback Thursday) in Aviation History: US Airways’ Short Lived MetroJet
Founded by its refreshed carrier, US Airways, MetroJet survived for just three brief years before shutting down. On June 1, 1998, MetroJet took flight using the Boeing 737-200. The airline was referred to by the call sign USAir, referencing the connection.
Today in 1998, MetroJet, operated by US Airways, was launched. #AVHistory
— AirlineGeeks.com (@AirlineGeeks) June 1, 2015
MetroJet was painted uniquely, with a red fuselage, gray belly and a tail matching their parent company’s, US Airways. The airline had a fleet of 49 Boeing 737-200. Unfortunately, this decision was highly damaging to MetroJet’s financial stability, as they were using some of the oldest and least efficient airplanes available for commercial aviation.
The motivation for forming MetroJet was to increase their profits; it also was an attempt to gain an advantage over their competitors, such as Southwest Airlines. MetroJet was not efficient in producing the profits US Airways had hoped for.
The airline flew to 25 destinations, including Chicago, Miami, St. Louis, Tampa and Jacksonville. Their hub was located in Baltimore. They flew to:
- Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood
- Fort Myers
- New Orleans
- New York City (LaGuardia Airport)
- St. Louis
- Washington, D.C.
- West Palm Beach
MetroJet provided great customer service and low fares. They participated in US Airways’ loyalty program, Dividend Miles, and held many of the same policies. The airline offered one single class rather than multiple, however, their seats had 33 inches of pitch. They allowed two carry on bags as long as they could fit under the seat. Their 737s could carry about 120 passengers.
In their three years of operation, MetroJet did not lose an airplane to a tragic crash. However, on February 23, 1999, MetroJet flight 2710 experienced a rudder hard-over incident in flight. Fortunately, the hard-over was quickly countered and the 737 landed safely without incident.
In the summer of 1999, US Airways’ service began to deteriorate, in part because too much attention was being devoted to MetroJet. It was becoming difficult for US Airways to manage both MetroJet and their own struggling company. Even though MetroJet continued to fly high, the future seemed uncertain for both companies.
Though not the leading airline, MetroJet seemed to have strong holds, despite not meeting all the expectations US Airways had for it. MetroJet had enough business to sustain their operations, resulting from their excellent reputation. Their downfall came suddenly. Following the September 11th attacks, MetroJet was not an exception to the damage sustained by all of the airlines. The week after the tragedy, US Airways announced that it would be shutting down MetroJet in a desperate recovery effort. This effort would cut costs that would otherwise be used to help fund MetroJet’s expensive fleet of fuel consuming aircraft. In December 2001, the once-successful airline ceased operations. Many of the airplanes were retired due to a lack of efficiency and up-to-date technology.
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