Flying is definitely the fastest way to travel these days. However, the rising price of tickets is causing many people to find an alternate means of transportation leaving many small to mid-sized city airports to lose revenue and flights. But a new, low-cost airliner is going to start serving these small U.S. cities that the bigger carriers have left behind.
JetAmerica, based out of Clearwater Florida, will be offering 34 nonstop passenger flights from Toledo, Ohio; South Bend, Indiana; Melbourne, Florida; Newark, New Jersey; Minneapolis, Minnesota; and Lansing, Michigan starting on July 13. 28 flights will either start or end at Newark Liberty International Airport and JetAmerica will add six additional flights from Toledo to Minneapolis starting on August 14. The company is targeting small to mid-size cities like Lansing, who has seen a drop from 35 daily flights to 12 at it's Capital Region International Airport in the past five years.
JetAmerica will offer Lansing business travelers direct access to New York City and direct access to central Florida for leisure travelers according to the head of Capital Region Airport Authority Robert Selig, something they don't have access to aright now. "This will fill a major void in our schedule," says Selig.
But filling this void is not going to be cheap. The Toledo, Lansing, and South Bend airports are subsidizing JetAmerica with $867,000 in waived airport fees, $1.1 million in marketing and advertising assistance, and $1.4 million in grants for their first year. The grants were received from the U.S. Department of Transportation's Small Community Air Service Development Program which has awarded over $104 million to 223 recipients since 2002. All this is a part of an effort to restore services lost and to reduce the cost of air fares.
John Weikle, the Chief Executive of JetAmerica, says that the money given by the different airports will help insulate the new carrier against spiking fuel prices for jets. Four major airliners have failed since 9/11 due to the raising prices of fuel costs, which affects smaller carries just as much if not more.
Weikle also founded Columbus, Ohio-based SkyBus Inc. which was known for its super low ticket prices starting at $10. SkyBus Inc. was bankrupt last year due to high fuel prices costing 450 people their jobs. JetAmerica will offer a similar price with their ticket prices starting at $9 and going as high as $199. The $9 tickets only apply to the first 9 to 19 seats on the plane. Other costs include a $15 bag check and additional charges for in-flight meals, drinks and movies.
JetAmerica will start off their company with one Boeing 737-800 with expectations to add an additional jet in their first month and to have a total of four by July 2010. In addition to the Boeing 737-800's Weikle plans to have a 189-seat jet leased every four months. According to Weikle, each Boeing 737-800 can fly to a total of four cities in a single day.
According to Weikle, JetAmerica's estimated revenue for the first year should be around $50 million dollars increasing to $150 million dollars by year two. JetAmerica has big plans that could very well revitalize the small to mid-sized airports getting left behind by the larger ones. With Weikle's plan, air travel could once again become popular and affordable.