The Story Of Former US Carrier Allegheny Airlines

From 1952 to 1979, Allegheny Airlines was a carrier that operated in the United States. It primarily flew out of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with routes throughout the eastern United States. The airline eventually became USAir. Later, USAir became US Airways, which then merged with American Airlines later on. Its headquarters was in Arlington, Virginia at Washington National Airport.

Starting the airline

The airline was founded as the ‘All American Aviation Company’ in 1939 and focused on air mail. It was renamed All American Airways in 1949 when it switched from mail to passenger services. It wasn’t until January 1953 that the airline settled with its most well-known name, Allegheny Airlines, named after the mountains and river in West Virginia.


As the airline grew, it merged with other air carriers to expand its network. 1968 saw it merge with Lake Central Airlines, and in 1972 a merger with Mohawk Airlines added more destinations to the route map. By the time deregulation rolled around in 1978, the airline had a network that crisis crossed the United States, touching points in Ohio, New York, Illinois, Indiana, Tennessee, Minnesota, and many more. It was also flying to Montreal and Toronto in Canada.

Interestingly, Allegheny was the first airline to adopt the now-common model of using affiliated regional airlines for its last-mile connectivity. The Allegheny Commuter system saw it adding capacity via a myriad of smaller commuter airlines, including Henson Airlines, Pocono airlines, Air North, Air Kentucky, and more. The first to join was Henson Airlines in 1967, a partnership that is credited as being the aviation industry’s first official codeshare agreement.

What did Allegheny fly?

Allegheny used multiple different airliners for its flights over the years. Early types included the Douglas DC-3, the Martin 2-0-2 and its first turbine airliner, the Convair 540. By the end of the 1960s, all these types had been phased out in favor of more modern alternatives.

The replacements included the new Fairchild F-27Js, which the airline named the Vistaliner. Accompanying that was the Convair 580 turboprop, named by the airline the Vistacruiser. In 1965, Allegheny said that it would add its first jet to the fleet. It chose the Douglas DC-9-10. Along with that, they added the McDonnell Douglas DC-9-30, naming it the Vistajet. The last piston flights for the airline were in 1967.

As planes became more modern, the fleet added the Boeing 727-100 and the 727-200. When they merged with Mohawk, they also added the British Aircraft Corporation BAC One-Eleven.

Over the years, the most numerous aircraft in the fleet was the DC-9-30, of which it flew 89. The Convair 580 had 40 examples in Allegheny, the BAC One-Eleven 31 and the F27 27.

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To reflect its widespread network reach, the airline shed its regional image with a rebrand to USAir in October 1979. It expanded into Texas, Arizona, Florida, Colorado and, eventually, California. It introduced a frequent traveler program in the mid-1980s and acquired two other significant airlines – PSA and Piedmont Airlines.

The Piedmont Airlines merger was the largest in airline history. It saw the airline expanding into more international routes, and taking route at the Piedmont hubs in Charlotte, Dayton, Baltimore and Syracuse. It also saw USAir operating its first-ever widebodies – the Boeing 767.

Ultimately, USAir became US Airways, and survived past the turn of the millennium right up until 2005, when it was announced it would be merging with America West. It retained its identity for a while longer, only finally becoming a cog int he behemoth American Airlines Group in December 2013.

Did you ever fly with Allegheny? Let us know in the comments.

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