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Jaunted Interviews: Matt Ballard Fills Us in on Project New Horizons

March 18, 2008 at 10:01 AM | by | ()

A Jaunted Exclusive

We're obsessed with the idea of JetAmerica, the new ultra low cost carrier that could start flying in Charleston, West Virginia. But we don't really know that much about it. So instead of just speculating, we decided to actually ask someone who knows what he's talking about.

We got in touch with Matt Ballard, the President and CEO of the Charleston Area Alliance, a non-profit development group that chipped in some seed money to get Project New Horizons off the ground. Matt was bound by a confidentiality agreement and SEC regulations, but he did manage to illuminate some things for us.

One biggie: You won't see this airline till 2009 at the earliest.

Jaunted: First can you fill us in on Jet America/Project New Horizons? Where will it fly? What individuals and groups are backing it?

Matt Ballard: Charleston, West Virginia is one of several bases they are planning to fly out of. Unfortunately I cannot share with you who the investors are at this time other than our organization which will invest $200,000, the Charleston Convention and Visitors Bureau which will invest $500,000 and the Kanawha County Conventions and Visitors Bureau which will invest $500,000.

Jaunted: The folks behind the project have already raised $3 million in seed capital and are shooting for $40 million now, correct? What's the next step after that?

Matt Ballard: $40 million is the low end of what needs to be raised.

Jaunted: Is there any apprehension about the airline, given Independence Air's rapid rise and fall?

Matt Ballard: New Horizons is based on Ryanair and Air Asia business models, two of the most consistently profitable airlines in the world. It's a totally different model than Independence Air which was more of a legacy hub-and-spoke model. [Ed. Note: John Weikle says the same thing]

Jaunted: We've heard that Jet America could be flying by the end of this year. Does that seem likely to you?

Matt Ballard: Not true. New Horizons will not fly before late 2009.

Jaunted: Any idea on which cities the new airline could serve? If you can't reveal them now, when should we expect an announcement about that?

Matt Ballard: Their route map will not be announced until a couple of months before their first flight.

Jaunted: There's a lot of speculation on this project. Have you seen anything reported about it that's not entirely accurate?

Matt Ballard: There have been many inaccurate claims and statements made about this project.

Related Stories:
· Yeager LCC Will Be Called Jet America [Jaunted]
· Top Secret Airline Watch: Details Emerging on Project New Horizons [Jaunted]
· Jaunted Interviews coverage [Jaunted]

Archived Comments:

Well, uhh... Thanks...

I suppose I shouldn't have expected a whole lot from Mr. Ballard, given that it's still so early in the game. But, the only worthwhile info from that interview is that the "flying before the end of 2008" rumor was very wrong.

Still, cheers to them for giving it a go. I'll certainly be watching closely.

Matt Ballard said

Wow! Matt Ballard said, "$40 million is the low end of what needs to be raised." Good information! Jet America is rock
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