Elite Airways aims to take flight in 2013


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.

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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.

23 Comments

  1. So, what you’re really saying is the people behind this have a lot of money that they would otherwise just throw into a paper shredder or fireplace, but they’ve instead decided to blow it on an airline doomed to fail because that’s more fun.

  2. At least the aircraft type somewhat fits the route profile. They could have chosen to fly an A320 or something crazy.

  3. I give their operation a life expectancy of about 2 weeks. And that’s being generous. But it will be nice to see a new livery here while they do fly.

  4. @Stacey – well, we can agree that the Hooters model didn’t work to carry an airline!!! LOL…

  5. As some one who went to school in Melbourne and now lives in the DC area it kind of appeals to me. I haven’t been back there in like 20 years because there was no easy way to get there.

    Melbourne is home to some aerospace companies and FIT has a well-regarded flight program based at MLB. I could see some traffic between aerospace workers in the Dulles corridor and Melbourne.

    But if the target market is snowbirds I am not sure there are enough of them here. Or that MLB is a useful destination for very many of them. If you are making a connection anyway the US flights via CLT probably make more sense.

  6. Probably trying to catch some of the defense contractor business too. Harris Corp, Patrick AFB and the (admittedly dying) space industry are all more easily served by MLB than MCO.

  7. Wait let me check my calendar… hmmm, too soon for April Fool’s day pranks.. seriously, the Devil’s Chariot!? Wow, I think I’d rather just drive, or possibly hitch-hike. At least when forced to fly the CR2 on UA, etc. I’m earning miles for it. Hard to see the attraction with this. But good luck to them…they’ll need it.

  8. @Rak you’re likely the only one that particular scenario applies to. And you make a good point. I think they have this whole idea all wrong when it comes to a target market. If they want snowbirds, they need to fly from somewhere like Ft Myers to more northern cities like those in New England.

  9. @Rak — “I haven’t been back there in like 20 years because there was no easy way to get there”

    Really? Beachline from MCO to I-95, then go south. 64 miles. About 1 hr drive.

  10. That would be the Beeline. πŸ™‚

    There are actually a lot of FIT alumni in the DC area. But not enough to make the airline profitable.

  11. Base an airline in ISP or HPN. Fly DIRECT, on nicer planes to business and leisure markets. There is enough disposable income here in the NY suburbs that would pay 50-100 bucks more for a flight to NOT have to deal with JFK/LGA/EWR, parking, city traffic, etc…I’m not saying I would bankroll it, but it sounds like a better gamble than this. πŸ™‚

  12. Don’t expect much from this airline. This is the same management team that ran short-lived Las Vegas-based charter Primaris Airlines. Remember their website and wetdreams: Coast-to-Coast and international First Class scheduled operations? First U.S. carrier to order the B787 Dreamliner, and 20 of them to boot! They ended up with a couple of B757s operating limited charter flights and wet-leasing a 757 to rag-tag Venezuelan carrier Santa Barbara Airlines.

  13. They are hiring Flight Attendants on Aug 28th,2013 with a class date of Sept.9th in Melbourne. Is it worth my time & energy to attend ?

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