Monday, July 20, 2009

JetAmerica - the Airline that Wasn't

In 2007, John Weikle launched a daring venture called SkyBus.

Modeled on Ireland's successful RyanAir, SkyBus promised to deliver extremely cheap air travel--as in, fares under $20--by doing away with all of the frills and connecting obscure airports, which have lower landing fees because there is no demand.

SkyBus got off the ground and offered something comparable to nationwide service, albeit to places that were often very far from the destinations they claimed to serve. But fuel prices climbed and climbed, and Weikle's venture was caught up in the same doom that crushed established carriers like Aloha. SkyBus ceased operations in April 2008.

JetAmerica made the same promise, and it used the same model, neither of which should be surprising since it was also founded by John Weikle. It also had an even shorter run than its predecessor: JetAmerica collapsed today, before getting a single plane in the air.

At a time when drastically reduced demand has shaken the foundations of every domestic carrier and share prices have plunged to a third of their values at the height of the fuel crisis, one could hardly be surprised to learn that financing for a new airline held limited appeal.

But seriously, does anyone believe that it's possible to operate an airline across a landmass as big as the United States while charging fares lower than the BoltBus?

Weikle has his vision, and bravo for his enthusiasm and effort. But I don't see this model ever working.

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