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US Airways executive joining Indian carrier

| Saturday, July 16, 2005

Bruce Ashby, one of US Airways' top executives, resigned Friday and will leave the bankrupt airline late this month to become CEO of a start-up carrier in India named IndiGo.

Executive vice president Ashby, 44, thus becomes the first top-level executive to quit US Airways since it opted to merge with America West Airlines in May. Analysts doubt he will be the last.

"It's more than probable that the bulk of US Airways' management structure will be wrung out, and probably in nine to 18 months," said William Lauer, analyst and chairman of Allegheny Capital Management, Tarentum. "It reflects the reality that America West will be operating the consolidated airline."

US Airways expects to complete its merger with America West and exit bankruptcy by early October, but the two operations won't be integrated for at least two years. America West's Tempe, Ariz., home is to be the merged carrier's headquarters.

"(Ashby) played a key role in the due diligence on the merger, and it would have been nice to have had his talent in the new company," said America West spokesman Phil Gee. "But (IndiGo) sounded like a great opportunity for him."

CEO Bruce Lakefield yesterday called Ashby "a brilliant individual (who) played a pivotal role in our reorganization" and wished him "the absolute best in his new endeavor."

Ashby joined US Airways in 1996, after holding financial and various operational leadership posts at Delta and United airlines. He held marketing, planning and other strategic roles at US Airways, including president of US Airways Express. Ashby also led negotiations that produced more than $1 billion in annual labor concessions last year and had been viewed as Lakefield's successor.

In departing to head IndiGo, the widely regarded airline executive traded professional prospects at a U.S., low-fare major in the works -- the new US Airways -- for an ambitious, low-fare airline launched last month in India.

Ashby also rejoins former US Airways CEO Rakesh Gangwal, who left the airline in 2003 and is an active board member at InterGlobe Enterprises. The India-based travel conglomerate and Gangwal are co-owners of IndiGo, which placed a $6 billion order for 100 Airbus aircraft in June.

Ashby was not available for comment. His duties will be divided among existing US Airways managers.

"He's about the same age as (America West CEO) Doug Parker and probably looked at the merger and thought, 'Where am I going?" said Lauer.

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