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US Airways and Continental See Different Fortunes with United at Washington/Dulles

Normally, when I see a route like Phoenix to Washington/Dulles canceled, I don't think twice. US Airways (LCC) has been culling its route network lately, and this would seem to be just another route to snip. But that's not the case. This is actually a bigger deal than it appears on the surface.

This should be a good route for the airline. As a member of the Star Alliance, this route should let them funnel many of their west coast passengers through Dulles to United's (UAUA) European and East Coast network. Apparently that's not happening, or at least not enough for US Airways to keep the route going. US Airways ends service on the route on February 10.

This is in stark contrast to Continental (CAL), which proudly began service from its Houston and Cleveland hubs to Dulles when it began participating in the Star Alliance. So what's the difference here?

While United has embraced Continental, US Airways remains the ex-fiancee who they've scorned. Remember, US Airways was to be the hot merger partner nearly 10 years ago until the deal was scuttled. US Airways has continued to hang around the alliance because there's a benefit to them, but they haven't been involved in any of the bigger plans around joint ventures and optimized traffic flow.

So while Continental ramps up its connectivity, US Airways appears to be slowly pulling away. Granted, most of the US Airways cities in the west already have service from United, so there isn't nearly as much benefit as Continental adds in Houston, but you would still think that this flight between hubs would be important. Apparently that's not the case.

Anyone out there interested in a scorned partner? I see some lonely folks out there near DFW . . .

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