Air Transport World

Air Virginia joins AA team.

In a year marked by dramatic reversals in fortune, Air Virginia announced late last month its impending union with American Airlines as the nation's third American Eagle carrier. This commuter carrier's story stands in marked contrast to the dramatic declines of similar airlines hit hard by financial woes, regulatory run-ins with the FAA and sometimes both.

Air Virginia overcame near extinction last year to complete its best traffic year ever. Enplanements during '85 grew to more than 248,000, up 18% from '83's 210,000. Last year's RPMs surpassed 45.8 million, up almost 10% above '83.

In light of its dramatic recovery, Air Virginia's decision raises numerous questions. Perhaps the most compelling--why align with a Major carrier now, when Air Virginia is again flying the path of financial operational success?

Springing back from last year's financial straits is only part of the process of recovery, in the mind of Air Virginia's President, Curt Coward. "The bigger issue is now that we've established a strong financial foundation, what do we do with it?" Coward asked rhetorically in an interview with ATW. …

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