JetAmerica to launch this July; schedules shutdown for July 2010

Another new carrier plans to take to the skies over America in early July, with an almost certain future – a quick failure.  JetAmerica plans to operate service based out of Toledo, Ohio, just up the road from Columbus, Ohio, the recent failure home of SkyBus.  It probably is no coincidence that the “brains” behind the operation happens to be the same guy.  This should be interesting.

Service from Toledo will include South Bend, Indiana; Melbourne, Florida; Lansing, Michigan; Minneapolis, Minnesota and Newark, New Jersey.  The service will not operate daily on any of the routes; they are taking after the Allegiant Air approach of service a couple times a week to each destination.  But unlike Allegiant, the destinations being served are not particularly high demand at either end as best as I can tell.  Newark and Minneapolis are hubs for Continental and Northwest (now Delta), respectively.  If there was demand for those flights they probably would be operating already in many cases.

The carrier is also having trouble with the concept of pricing and their “no gimmick” claims.  All tickets incur a $5 “convenience fee” for the booking, so the $9 fare sale is actually $14, with the $5 tucked into the “taxes” section of the record.  Yeah, that would be a gimmick.

And they are actually operating as a scheduled charter operator rather than regular commercial service.  This makes a bit of a difference when it comes to passenger rights and other details of the operational aspects of the carrier.  It isn’t necessarily bad, but it certainly qualifies it as a bit sketchy.  At least it means that they will have relatively new airplanes flying around for them.

Finally, they are financing a large part of this service with FAA-provided grant money from the Small Cities Air Service program.  Money in this program is supposed to be used to help stimulate service to underserved markets.  Toledo qualifies for this service to the tune of $400K and the local airport authority has kicked in another $200K.  That’s not enough to operate an airline for very long, hence the prediction of the quick demise

It is hard to believe that folks are willing to continue throwing good money at bad ideas.  Fuel prices are slowly ticking back up and the economy is rather in the tank still.  Even if it weren’t the chances of success with this carrier would still be miserably low.  But the guy keeps getting paid do start up these airlines and then, eventually, screw over customers and investors.  That is just sad.

Lots more useful thoughts on this new airline over at Hudson Crossing.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.