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America West Airlines founder Ed Beauvais dies at 84

The founder, chairman and CEO of America West Airlines in Phoenix, Western Pacific Airlines and Mountain Air Express of Colorado Springs died in his home.
Credit: Associated Press
2009 File Photo | America West Airlines jets at the terminal at Sky Harbor International Airport, Phoenix, Arizona

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — The founder of America West Airlines in Phoenix, Edward R. Beauvais, has died at the age of 84, according to his family. 

The airline executive and hall-of-famer was also the chairman and CEO of Western Pacific Airlines and Mountain Air Express in Colorado Springs.

Beauvais died in his Scottsdale home on Sept. 28, his family said.


  • Received INC Magazine’s “1989 Entrepreneur of The Year” award
  • Recognized as an “Arizona History Maker” 
  • Named one of Arizona’s 25 “Leaders and Legends” (2014)
  • Inducted into The Arizona Aviation Hall of Fame (2014)

Beauvais began his aviation career in 1960 at Frontier Airlines in Denver as a senior accountant, an AWA history page says

In 1979, the AWA history website says Beauvais moved back to Phoenix and while working for a consulting firm, also worked on the business plan for America West in his guest house.

America West began service on Aug. 1, 1983, with flights from Phoenix to Kansas City, Wichita, Colorado Springs, and Los Angeles. Over the next 10 years, Beauvais built America West "into one of the most successful of the 1980s post-deregulation airlines," according to the Pima Air & Space Museum.

America West was known as Phoenix’s hometown airline, so much so that its call signs were ‘Cactus.’

Beauvais is survived by his wife of 64 years, Mary Ellen, his five children, seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

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