JetAmerica: Son Of Skybus?

jetamericaA new ultra-no-frills airline with ties to the short-lived Skybus will begin flying in July, mostly between secondary airports in the eastern half of the country.

JetAmerica will start flying July 13 between Newark, N.J., and four cities: Lansing, Mich.; Melbourne-Vero Beach, Fla.; South Bend, Ind.; and Toledo, Ohio. It will also fly from Toledo and Lansing to Melbourne-Vero Beach. Flights between Toledo and Minneapolis-St. Paul are scheduled to begin Aug. 14.

Tickets are on sale now. The first 19 fares on each flight will be sold for $9.

The fleet will consist of Boeing 737s, and the Associated Press indicates that each will have 189 seats. That matches the configuration of SpiceJet 737-800s, which has a fairly standard 32-inch seat pitch, according to SeatGuru.

That’s not very squishy for a no-frills airline, but otherwise this is a familiar business plan. It’s very like the one that has succeeded spectacularly for Ryanair in Europe and failed rather less spectacularly for Skybus here in the United States. JetAmerica is also, technically, a charter operation, as Skybus was.

This is not surprising, when you consider that John Weikle, the founder of JetAmerica, also founded Skybus — although he left Skybus soon after it began operations.

The question is how JetAmerica can succeed where Skybus failed. While Skybus faced much higher fuel costs when it went under in April 2008, JetAmerica is launching into the middle of an economic crisis.

Time will tell. It always does.

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