America West Airlines was one of the US’s top ten passenger carriers, based in Tempe, Arizona out of Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport; it became part of the US Airways Group after its purchase of US Airways.
At the time of its acquisition of US Airways, America West operated two hubs; its base location at Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix, Arizona and a secondary hub at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, Nevada. America West was the second largest low-cost carrier in the US and it provided approximately 100 destinations in the US, Canada, and Mexico. Service to Europe was provided through codeshare partners.
As of March, 2005, the airline operated a fleet of 140 aircraft with one maintenance base at Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix.
Beginning January 2006, all America West flights were branded as US Airways, along with most signage at airports and any other printed material, though many flights were described as "operated by America West." Apart from two heritage aircraft, the only America West branding present on aircraft are on some seat covers, bulkheads, and flight attendant uniforms. However, the merged airline retained America West's callsign, "CACTUS" and ICAO code "AWE".
The airline was established in February 1981 and started on August 1, 1983 using three leased Boeing 737 aircraft flying out of its base in Phoenix, Arizona with Ed Beauvais as CEO. At the start, passengers could buy tickets on board the aircraft.
The airline quickly expanded, with eleven 737's operating flights to 13 cities, and, by the end of 1983, developed a secondary hub in Las Vegas, Nevada. In 1984 America West grew to 21 aircraft operating flights into 23 cities.
America West was one of the first airlines to use extensive "cross-utilization", in which employees were trained in a variety of airline jobs, such as pilots trained in dispatch, and both baggage handlers and flight attendants being trained as gate agents. America West also started as a "full service" airline, in contrast with Southwest Airlines, the discount air carrier competing in many of the same markets. America West also utilized an aggressive employee stock ownership program, in which new employees were required to invest 20% of their salary in company stock, providing a steady flow of cash as the company grew.