US Airways holds media day amid dour economy

PHOENIX: US Airways hosted its annual media day on March 24 in the face of a tough climate for the industry. Its executive team used the one-day event to recap 2008, but also to explain the issues affecting its future, such as the economy.

PHOENIX: US Airways hosted its annual media day on March 24 in the face of a tough climate for the industry. Its executive team used the one-day event to recap 2008, but also to explain the issues affecting its future, such as the economy.

Chairman and CEO Doug Parker and other executives provided a day of presentations to about 30 print, broadcast, and digital media outlets, including the Associated Press and The Wall Street Journal. Trades like PRWeek, as well as industry experts, were also on hand.

The purpose of the media day was to provide face time and education on issues affecting the industry, such as hedging, “which journalists may not do deeper dives on,” as well further insight into its corporate culture, according to Elise Eberwein, SVP of people and communications at US Airways.

On the same day, the International Air Transport Association released a report that predicted a nearly $5 billion loss in 2009 for the global airline industry. However, North American airlines were expected to perform better than other regions.

A key theme that emerged at US Airways' media day was how the company believes it is well positioned to meet the new challenges. It stressed how it has improved on-time arrivals and instituted capacity cuts.

“Looking ahead to 2009, the key message is... positioning ourselves in this new economic environment,” Jim Olson, VP of corporate communications, told PRWeek.

Eberwein added that news in the past year “felt like everything was so negative.” As such, she added, US Airways had to figure out “what do we as an airline have to say?”

And like most in the PR industry, the airlines are dealing with a shrinking media. Although the company maintained last year's budget levels for the event, more journalists declined to participate due to their own companies' budget issues, Eberwein said.

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