Does US Air own United, Or...?

Does US Air own United, or just operate their flights whic call for smaller planes?

They just code share. United has its own communter airline partners as well. It may depend where you are flying from. If you are in PA, NC or some other places heavily served by US Scare, you will probably get a code share flight on one of their planes until you get to your United flight. Nothing to do with the size of the plane really.

US Scare did merge with America West, but their planes haven’t been repainted to the US livery.


  1. US Air (or more properly USAir) does not exist. It was renamed US Airways about 5 years ago.

  2. As of a couple weeks ago, US Airways is now a wholly owned subsidiary of America West. Over the next year or so AWA’s name will disappear and US Airways’ name will cover both of them, but the actual surviving corporation will be America West. Sort of like the wolf eating the sheep & then moving into the sheep’s hide.

  3. United (“UA”) and US Airways (“US”) have had a joint marketing agreement for several years. So many UA flights also have US flight numbers and are sold by US as their own. And vice versa. When you show up at the airport to take UA flight 123 from here to there, it might really be a US Airways plane and crew. Or vice versa.

  4. Both UA & US subcontract with several different feeder carriers to operate small planes on their behalf. Companies like Air Wisconsin, Chautauqua, Mesa, Trans States, ASA, ACA, SkyWest, Horizon, and a host of other names you’ve never heard of. In each case these subcontractors paint some of their planes sort of like the UA or US paintjob, call themselves “United Express” or “US Airways Connection” or something, and have their employees wear uniforms that are similar to their marketing big brother.

These subcontractors’ flights are also given UA and/or US flight numbers to (slightly) camoflage the fact they’re really operated by a subcontractor.

(Every couple of years everybody changes partners in search of a better deal. And it’s not uncommon for the no-name companies like Mesa to subcontract to bitter rivals, in effect selling guns to both the cowboys and the indians. Likewise at any given hub you may find one major carrier subcontracting with two separate no-names who’re locked in deadly competition, but operate from adjacent gates & appear identical to the passengers.)

  1. The UA & US subcontract flights are also being joint-marketed, so a given subcontract flight will also have both a US & a UA flight number.

Bottom line:

United flight# 3745 from ABC to DEF is also US Airways flight# 7598, flown by Mesa Airlines using planes and crews loosly disguised as United people and planes. 3 hours later another plane leaves ABC for DEF, but this time it’s US Airways flight 5438 and United flight 9345, but it’s really flown by Chautauqua Airlines using planes and crews loosly disguised as US Airways.


What about other commuter airlines, such as Delta? American Eagle? Are these contracted out, too?

Some are true independent carriers just “flagged” as the major airline’s partner, some are actual subsidiaries of the major, some are joint outfits in which A and B each puts in some or all of the assets and carries out some or all of the operations. Not unusual for one major airline to have more than one type of such arrangement at the same time. American Eagle’s operation out of the SJU hub, for instance, seems to have been all of those at various times during its existence.

Oops, I left this out: So a particular airline’s “Dramaminair Express” feeder flights may be flown by a contracted independent out of LAX, but by an owned subsidiary out of IAH.

For an example, here’s the list of Delta Connection partners. Notice it includes outsiders, subsidiaries of Delta, and subsidiaries of the outsiders.

true story:
my flight attendant actually announced on landing: " We know you have a choice of financially distressed airlines, so we thank you for flying with us."

[mods–sorry, but I couldn’t resist]

Speaking just to American as an example …

American is a major airline. It is a wholy owned subsidiary of a holding company called AMR.

AMR owns another airline called American Eagle, which provides small plane service in support of big AA at LAX, SFO, DFW, ORD, MIA, JFK/LGA, BOS, & (I think) DCA.

AMR owns a separate airline called Executive which looks exactly like Eagle, and provides the same function at SJU (San Juan, PR).

AMR contracts with both Trans States and Chautauqua to provide small plane service at its STL hub. These contracts date from when TWA was a major hubbing opt of STL and had those 2 as its feeders there. When AA bought TWA & absorbed it, they kept the feeder contracts in place.

Finally, as JRD intimated, the current American Eagle is the result of a forced merger of 4 prior small airlines that AMR at first contracted with, then bought outright. AMR management tried to operate them separately and play them off against each other and eventually fell foul of the law. The solution was to combine them into one carrier, but somehow Executive/SJU was permitted to continue to stand alone.

AMR owns a greater portion of its feeders then the other majors. Delta owns one of theirs, is a major stakeholder in a second, and just subcontracts with the other 2 or 3.

A few years ago United didn’t own any of their feeders.

All of these arrangements are under great pressure as the various majors declare bankruptcy, and the only thing that’s sure is a year from now much will be different.

Probably something to do with doing business in a dozen distinct other countries due to the Caribbbean routes. As late as within the last 3 years there was talk at AMR even of the possibility of having Executive buy itself back.

Jinx, to restate the above somewhat differently:

(1) Many major carriers have agreements with regional carriers which fly the shorter routes on their planes, but allow you to earn frequent flyer miles on the majors while flying on their regional partners; further, you can book a flight from, say, Ft. Walton Beach Florida to Pittsburgh PA, on Delta Airlines…you may be on Delta’s partner ASA (Atlantic Southeast Airlines) from fT. Walton to Atlanta, then change to a mainline Delta flight from Atlanta to Pittsburgh. But, you do not have to book reservations through ASA and Delta. You book it all seamlesly through Delta. And you earn miles for all of the segments on Delta.

(2) The issue of codesharing and alliance partners–For instance, there is something called SkyTeam, which includes Northwest, Delta, and Continental. You could book a flight from A to B through, say, Continental, and find that all of your flights are on a Delta plane. Or a Northwest plane. Or if you are changing planes, the first segment on Delta, and the second segment on Northwest.

Confusing? Yes! Welcome to our world. :slight_smile: