FAA Issues LCC Final Certification
Rookie low-fare carrier Skybus
Airlines earned final certification from the Federal Aviation
Administration Thursday, clearing the way for its scheduled May 22
"FAA certification is the final hurdle," said Ken Gile, the
president and chief operating officer of Skybus. "We are ready to
take our place in the US airline community."
The carrier's first scheduled flight is a 9:36 am departure May
22 from its hub in Port Columbus, OH to Bob Hope Airport in
As ANN reported, the carrier
will start by offering nonstop service from CMH to the Boston, Los
Angeles, San Francisco Bay and Seattle/Vancouver areas, and to Ft.
Lauderdale, Richmond, Kansas City and Greensboro/Winston-Salem with
$10 tickets available on every flight.
On May 29, Skybus adds three more destinations: Fort Lauderdale,
FL; Greensboro, NC; and Bellingham, WA which will serve the Seattle
and Vancouver, British Columbia, markets, according to the Columbus
Dispatch. June 12 opens service to San Francisco Oakland
International Airport; other destinations will be announced
The carrier has taken some rather unique steps in curbing its
costs to keep its fares low. For example, the first two bags
checked are five dollars each, then $50 a bag thereafter. The
carrier plans to offer no frills at all -- no in-flight
entertainment, few gate agents, no preferred seating... even no
You read right -- the company doesn't allow customers to call
them. Passengers are referred to the company's website for any
needs that may arise. Also... if you're late for your flight, don't
even think about asking them to wait... because they won't. It's an
effort by Skybus to minimizing the time its aircraft are parked at
gates or spending time taxiing on runways.
Skybus will offer a full cocktail bar and food menu -- cash
only, please. The same goes for pillows and blankets, which
passengers would be allowed to keep if they purchase them.
"We know travelers are looking for really low fares and nonstop
flights, and we believe our pricing structure will not only attract
current flyers, but open up the market to many others who now find
air travel simply too expensive," Bill Diffenderffer, Skybus CEO,
said. "Our strategy is to 'decomplexify' airline operations in ways
that keep costs down while making flying as simple and convenient
as possible for passengers."
The carrier has attracted $160 million in startup capital from
investors. It was also awarded $14 million in incentives from the
Columbus City Council.
By comparison, JetBlue, one of the most successful start-ups in
US airline history, raised only $130 million before its launch
eight years ago.
Skybus' origins can be traced the mid-1990s when co-founders
Gile and John Weikle, working with JPMorgan, tried to organize
Heartland Airlines based at Dayton, OH. The project failed to raise
the necessary capital to launch and was abandoned after the 9/11
terror attacks, according to USA Today.
(Photo courtesy of Derek Rust)