New Airline Taking Flight

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, center, and on large screen makes the opening address at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Wednesday Jan. 24, 2007. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)
AP Photo
Potomac Air, a new airline expected eventually to account for a large share of flights at Washington's Reagan National Airport, takes to the air Friday.

Potomac Air will be a US Airways Express carrier and its launch was announced Thursday by its parent, US Airways.

United Airlines and US Airways are awaiting approval of federal regulators for their planned merger.

As part of that combination, US Airways proposed to spin off a large share of its Washington operations to a new airline in an effort to ease concerns that the merged airline would dominate at both National and Dulles International airports.

With approval of the merger, Potomac Air would become DC Air and take over the routes to be spun off, US Airways said.

Starting Friday, the new airline will operate between Washington National and Charleston, W.Va., Greensboro, N.C., and White Plains, N.Y.

Top World Airlines
The top 15 airlines by passengers carried as of Jan. 2000:
  1. United
  2. American
  3. Delta
  4. Northwest
  5. British Airways
  6. Continental
  7. Lufthansa
  8. Singapore
  9. Qantas
  10. KLM
  11. US Airways
  12. Southwest
  13. Cathay Pacific
  14. Korean
  15. TWA
(Source: Air Transport World)size>
The Federal Aviation Administration confirmed that it had approved the new carrier and said federal inspectors would be aboard initial flights.

US Airways said that in the future Potomac is expected to expand service to include Allentown, Pa., Charlotte, N.C., Greenville-Spartanburg, S.C., Knoxville, Tenn., Greenbrier/Lewisburg, W.Va., Morgantown, W.Va., Norfolk, Va., Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, as well as to Roanoke, Va., with continuing service to Clarksburg, W.Va., and Richmond, Va.

Potomac Air will fly 37-seat DASH-8 aircraft and has a maintenance and operations base in Roanoke.

The United/US Airways merger, announced last May, is still being reviewed by the Department of Justice. In December, the airlines agreed to extend the deadline for regulators to review the proposed deal until April 2.

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