by Michael Lowrey
If you look back at the 2014 US Airways/American Airlines baseline, you’ll find that nearly a tenth (64 of 670 total flights) of the carriers’ combined flights from CLT are on turboprops. Piedmont Aviation, which is a wholly-owned subsidiary of US Airways (and now, to be technical, American Airlines) operates these flights. Piedmont has long faced an uncertain future — the Bombardier 37- and 50-seat DHC aircraft the company flies are rather old and US Airways has long avoided selecting replacement aircraft, be they turboprop or jet. This has even led to speculation that Piedmont might eventually just stop flying planes all together.
As the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram reports, Piedmont’s pilot have reached a tentative agreement with US Airways/American, so it appears that the carrier will live on and get new planes. It remains to be seen whether those new aircraft would be more modern turboprops — yes, they still make turboprops — or 76-seat regional jets. Either way, going to larger aircraft will have a siginificant impact on the service levels to the smaller communities that Piedmont currently flies to from Charlotte.
About the name: After US Air bought the original Piedmont Airlines, it changed the name of one of its commuter carrier Piedmont to prevent a start up from reusing the name.