America West is where Parker assembled the team that in the brief span of a dozen years managed to put together the biggest airline in the world.
As CEO of US Airways, Parker understood that airline employees often treasure their heritage, a realization that many in the airline industry seemed to ignore. Parker authorized painting US Airways A319s in the colors of four predecessors: Allegheny, America West, Piedmont and PSA.
Must Read: 10 Stocks Carl Icahn Loves in 2014
Parker brought the concept to American following its 2013 merger with US Airways, and he discusses it in his column, published in the August issues of in-flight magazines at American and US Airways. Parker writes of his plans to paint the aircraft over the next few years.
"As we move forward, we will remember to embrace our past," Parker wrote. "We plan to paint some 'heritage' aircraft -- modern planes painted with logos from the past from airlines that have formed today's American.
Must Read: As American Air Pilots Take Over, America West Pilots Seek Refunds
"Already, we are flying jets with paint schemes from PSA, Piedmont, America West and Allegheny, and in the future we plan to introduce TWA, Reno Air and AirCal aircraft, while keeping one plane in the US Airways livery," Parker said.
"We have team members that began their careers at each of these carriers working for American today," he said. "They are proud of their heritage, and we are proud to have them on the American Airlines team."
The first heritage airplane (pictured) in the American fleet, as distinct from the current US Airways fleet, is an Airbus A319, with tail number N838AW. Painting was completed on Aug. 31, and it has operated on flights serving the Charlotte and Washington Reagan National hubs.
Next in line for the American fleet is a PSA heritage aircraft, said spokesman Matt Miller. Painting should be completed this month, he said.
America West Airlines, founded by airline entrepreneur Ed Beauvais and a team he assembled, started in Phoenix in 1981 and flew its first flight in 1983. America West "was one of the few post-deregulation startups not to shut down," according to the book "American Airlines, US Airways, and the Creation of the World's Largest Airline," by Dan Reed and me, which will be published by McFarland & Co. in November.