Piedmont Airlines

From Academic Kids

Piedmont Airlines is a regional airline operating under the name US Airways Express for US Airways. Headquartered in Salisbury, Maryland, it conducts flight operations along the East Coast of the United States, with concentrated operations at the Charlotte Douglas International Airport hub in Charlotte, North Carolina. However, the name "Piedmont Airlines" usually refers to an earlier airline that was, during its heyday, one of America's largest airline companies.



Piedmont from 1948 to 1989

The original Piedmont Airlines began flying in 1948. Its route system stretched from Wilmington, N.C. northwest to Cincinnati, Ohio, with numerous intermediate stops. Early routes were operated with Douglas DC-3 aircraft. The airline was based at Smith-Reynolds Airport in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

As Piedmont grew over the years, their route system primarily served the U.S. states of North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia. However, by the end of 1978, and while still under U.S. route regulation, Piedmont had grown to include an area stretching northward to New York City, New York and westward as far as Denver, Colorado and southward to Miami, Florida.

Prior to deregulation, Piedmont had no true hub system. The airline was known for flying large jets into relatively small airports and for connecting unlikely city pairs with jet flights. Examples of this include nonstop jet flights between Kinston, North Carolina and Florence, South Carolina; Roanoke, Virginia and Asheville, North Carolina; Lynchburg, Virginia and New York City's LaGuardia Airport; Chicago's O'Hare International Airport and Bristol/Kingsport/Johnson City, Tennessee; and Winston-Salem, North Carolina to Lynchburg, Virginia.

Piedmont's fleet grew along with the airline. Piedmont began operations with the DC-3 but added the Fairchild F27, the Martin 4-0-4 and the Fairchild-Hiller FH 227B to their fleet by the 1960's. Routes in the late 1970s were operated with Japanese-built NAMC YS-11A prop-jet aircraft and Boeing 737-200 pure-jet aircraft. Boeing 727 aircraft were later added to the fleet. Interestly, one Boeing 727 that Piedmont purchased from Northwest Orient Airlines and placed into service was the aircraft that had been involved in the famous D.B. Cooper hijacking in the Pacific Northwest.

Following airline route deregulation in the late 1970s, the airline grew rapidly and began to a develop hub and spoke system with a hub at Charlotte Douglas International Airport in Charlotte, North Carolina. Later hubs included Baltimore/Washington International Airport outside of Baltimore, Maryland; James M. Cox Dayton International Airport in Dayton, Ohio; and Syracuse Hancock International Airport in Syracuse, New York. The extent of Piedmont's route map grew as well, with nonstop flights to the west coast beginning from the Charlotte and Dayton hubs during the early 1980s. At that time, the airline introduced first class service for the first time on its long-haul Boeing 727-200 jets. Eventually, Piedmont began nonstop service from Charlotte to London Gatwick Airport in the United Kingdom utilizing newly acquired Boeing 767 aircraft.

Piedmont's expanding route system, its loyal passenger following, and its profitability caused it to gain notice among other airlines for a potential buyout. In August 1989, Piedmont Airlines was absorbed by USAir (formerly Allegheny Airlines), which had previously focused its route network around the northeastern states. The combined carrier became one of the East Coast's largest airlines.

Henson Airlines and Piedmont post-1993

Henson Airlines was founded in 1931 as a fixed base operator in Hagerstown, Maryland. It began its first scheduled flights to Washington National Airport in 1962. Allegheny and Henson began one of the world's first code sharing arrangements in 1967, and Henson rebranded itself as an Allegheny Commuter carrier using Beechcraft 99 aircraft. Later, the airline upgraded to Shorts 330 and De Havilland DHC-7 turboprops.

In 1983, Piedmont bought Henson and rebranded the airline as "Henson, The Piedmont Regional Airline." Under Piedmont's control, the airline expanded rapidly, particularly in Florida. After Piedmont was bought out by USAir, Henson became a USAir Express carrier.

The Piedmont name was resurrected in 1993, when USAir renamed Henson to "Piedmont Airlines". The reason for this was to protect the Piedmont brand name, which could be used by others if not exercised in trade use for a period of time. USAir continued this practice by changing the name of its two other wholly owned regional airline subsidiaries, Jetstream and Allegheny Commuter, to PSA Airlines and Allegheny Airlines, respectively. (Pacific Southwest Airlines was the name of a California-based airline merged into USAir.) In 1997, USAir was renamed US Airways, and Piedmont was likewise rebranded as a US Airways Express carrier. It purchased Allegheny Airlines in 2004.


Piedmont operates 55 Bombardier DHC-8 "Dash 8" turboprop aircraft. The airline's fleet contains 37-seat -100 and -200 models, as well as the longer 50-seat -300.

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