In the early-1990s Mesa Airlines was the largest independently owned regional airline in the USA. It already operated multiple separate divisions (Air Midwest, America West Express, CalPac, FloridaGulf Airlines, Skyway Airlines etc). Mesa had started code-sharing with America West (AWA) at Phoenix in late 1992 bringing its Essential Air Services routes under the AWA Express banner and replacing AWA's unusual mainline DHC-8 flights. As America West prepared to leave bankruptcy protection in 1993 Mesa was one of the four partners in AmWest Partners which controlled over 75% of the airline's stock. As part of the deal to leave bankruptcy it was agreed that Mesa would setup a new airline division to operate F70s and two were ordered in December 1993. They would be the first F70s in the USA and the new airline would be named Desert Sun Airlines...
America West was a strong supporter of several sports teams located near its hub operations and it was in fact one of these agreements which kicked off its repainting of its 757s into special schemes. The airline had signed a marketing agreement with the Phoenix Suns basketball team as early as 1989, which renamed their new stadium the America West Arena. It was their colours which were the first to be adopted, upon N907AW, and for many years the team flew an America West 737-100 for their away fixtures. It was the first of three sports team tie-ups, however the second special scheme adopted celebrated America West Airlines and its employees and was named Teamwork...
The mid-1980s was a time of significant growth for America West and only three years after starting operations they took on 6 nearly new 757-2S7s which had been delivered to Republic Airlines just prior to its takeover by Northwest. Of the fifteen Boeing 757s that would join America West only three would join them directly and be 757-2G7s. The other twelve were either ex-Republic 2S7s (6), ex-Eastern 225s (4), an ex-Odyssey Int 28A or an AWAS leased series 23A. Two other 757-2G7s ordered new from Boeing were cancelled following the carrier's bankruptcy in the early 90s and not built. Though it only had a relatively small fleet of 757s America West made sure that many of them caught the eye, as in the 1990s it began painting 8 of them into special liveries.
I'm Richard Stretton: a fan of classic airliners and airlines who enjoys exploring their history through my collection of die-cast airliners. If you enjoy the site please donate whatever you can to help keep it running: