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StatesWest was founded by Phoenix entrepreneur Rudy Miller [1] in 1986 and began operating from its base at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport in 1987 with 36-passenger Short 360 turboprop aircraft. Later that year, 19-passenger BAe Jetstream 31s were added to the fleet.
During the airline's lifespan as an independent carrier, StatesWest served San Diego, California; Burbank, California; Ontario, California; Orange County, California; Los Angeles, California; Tucson, Arizona; Lake Havasu City, Arizona; Bullhead City, Arizona; Prescott, Arizona; Sierra Vista/Fort Huachuca, Arizona and briefly to Las Vegas, Nevada as well as Albuquerque, New Mexico and Telluride, Colorado.
In late 1988, StatesWest determined the Short 360 and Jetstream 31 aircraft were inefficient for the company's mission. Both types were phased out in favor of 19-passenger Beechcraft 1900C aircraft. In 1989, the airline entered a small niche market by offering daily nonstop service between Scottsdale, Arizona and Orange County, California, but that route was discontinued in 1990.
Future Scottsdale city council member and current mayor, W.J. "Jim" Lane was elected StatesWest president and chief operating officer on January 31, 1990.[2] Shortly after, StatesWest discontinued all flying under its own name and entered into an agreement with USAir to operate as USAir Express by providing feeder service to its hubs at San Diego, Los Angeles and San Francisco which were remnants of the original Pacific Southwest Airlines route structure.
During the contract with USAir, StatesWest acquired a 13 passenger Beechcraft 1300 aircraft to supplement the fleet of 1900Cs. In 1993, StatesWest closed its doors for good as USAir sharply reduced the size of its operations in California.