Let’s say, hypothetically speaking, that you’re asked to put together a plan for starting up a new airline. You have to choose a base of operations, a handful of initial routes and an aircraft type to run on those routes. So, what would you choose?? For the base of operations you probably want an airport with a decent sized local population, low operational costs and maybe even a decent location to route connecting passengers through efficiently, especially if the hub doesn’t have a huge local population. For initial routes you’re probably going to want to go after big population areas. After all, more people means more business and a better chance that some might fly with you. And for aircraft you’ll probably want something reasonably comfortable for passengers and reasonably efficient in terms of fuel economy.
Based on those conditions who would choose Melbourne, Florida as the hub? Or Dulles as the initial destination?? Or the Canadair CRJ-200 as the aircraft type???? Yeah, I didn’t think so.
But that’s what Elite Airways has announced. The company runs a charter operation currently, according to their website. And now they’re looking to provide scheduled service, too. Their target market is snowbirds and the Florida cruise port departures, not business travelers. And while regional jets are generally less costly to operate than mainline operations that’s usually because the crew costs are much lower, not because the planes are more efficient. The per-hour fuel burn is lower than on bigger planes but disproportionately higher on a per-seat basis. So if there is actual demand for the service the bigger planes are a lot cheaper to fly on a per passenger basis. And let’s not forget that the CRJ-200 is one of the least comfortable planes to fly on in a typical commercial passenger service layout.
So they’ve got a limited market segment to target, an uncomfortable aircraft to fly and relatively high costs. Oh, and their hub airport is only an hour from Orlando’s international airport, where many other options exist for service.
Good luck…they’re going to need it.