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While Bill Diffenderffer is ostensibly back to his writing career and other Skybus folks are sorting out a bankruptcy mess, the LCC's planes are being shipped overseas to other airlines that, you know, can afford to fly them.
One A319 ended up with Airblue, a newish Pakistani carrier that's looking to expand. Another is on the way to Air Jamaica, which will keep the all-economy configuration in place. Rossiya, a decently-sized Russian carrier is also planning to take delivery of an A319.
Spirit Airlines / Skybus / United / American Airlines / Airline Bankruptcy / Airlines / LCCs / Low Cost Carriers / Airline Analysis / → All Tags
Tacky advertiser and low cost carrier Spirit Airlines may be laying off about half its in-flight staff. The airline notified union leaders this weekend, saying cuts are planned for August 1, though a final decision hasn't yet been made. Any accompanying route cuts haven't been announced either, but you've got to expect them.
This interesting photo from the Fisher College of Business at Ohio State University just landed in our inbox. Seems when Southwest CEO Gary Kelly stopped in recently to share words of wisdom with OSU MBAs and aviation students, a familiar face was in the crowd. Says our tipster:
In the back row of the photo you can make out Bill Diffenderffer. Seems a little late for him to be learning how to run an airline.
GYY / Airports / Skybus / Viva Aerobus / → All Tags
Just a couple months ago, Gary/Chicago International was hyping Skybus as the spark that would turn the airport into the region's third air traffic hub. But the ultra-LCC only managed 23 days at GYY before flaming out, leaving the airport without a commercial carrier yet again.
Despite the setback, the airport is moving forward with a plan to link the South Shore Line commuter rail to the terminal, providing a seamless connection between GYY and downtown Chicago. That sort of easy-to-use public transportation is exactly what would make the airport a marketable alternative to O'Hare and Midway--if only passengers had the chance to use it.
The new Mexican LCC Viva Aerobus has applied to fly to Gary but can't start service to Monterrey until the DOT gives the OK. If and when that happens, maybe the combo of low fares and easy airport access will finally end the curse of the LCC at GYY. Or maybe not.
· Airport Authority Outlines Train Station Plans [NWI Times]
· Skybus Travel: "Significant News Event" in Gary, Indiana Today [Jaunted]
· Bill Diffenderffer Says Skybus Is No Hooters Air [Jaunted]
[Photo: Google Maps]
A few weeks ago, rumors were swirling that Skybus could come soaring back to life. And the Columbus Dispatch reported that the carrier's assets, including its valuable operating certificate, were being shopped around. But as it turns out, no one wants them.
Airline chief Mike Hodge says nobody's even bid on his company's future aircraft orders, the Skybus name or that operating certificate. And the one guy who might've been interested, John Weikle, was too busy sending conspiracy theory-laden emails to former Skybus employees to pony up an actual offer.
The LCC is still open to selling off its goods, but after so many airline bankruptcies it's hard to imagine who'd want to buy them.
Skybus / Flickr / Travel Snapshots / LCCs / Low Cost Carriers / → All Tags
In other imploded-airline news, Skybus isn't as gone as you may think. We're still parsing all the will-they-won't-they comeback rumors, but in the meantime, you can reminisce about the short-lived ULCC on Flickr.
The Skybus Airlines Group has a big inventory of plane porn. You'll find shots of anything from the A319 wingtips to ex-CEO Bill Diffenderffer posing with his FAs. Big-time plane spotter DRust--whose photos have appeared on Jaunted--is the group admin.
You'll also find some not-so-nice Skybus memories on Flickr. You'll remember that when the carrier declared bankruptcy, it straight up stopped flying, stranding some passengers away from home. Flickr user JDuffey posted a comment-of-the-times in response to someone telling him "Sadly they went out of business today!":
I thought you were joking but it appears to be true. How am I going to get home now?!
After its catastrophic implosion, it's hard to imagine Skybus actually returning to the skies. But industry watcher Nawal Taneja tells the Columbus Dispatch there's a chance it could happen:
I know there are people interested in the certificate. They just think the management team and the business model weren't right.
He's talking about the "air carrier operating certificate," a document issued by the FAA that lets airlines fly. That, among a bunch of other Skybus assets, are up for grabs now that the company has shut down.
Among those shopping is likely the carrier's founder, John Weikle. (He left the company shortly after it started flying.) Because of a bunch of federal rules, Weikle wouldn't be able to snatch up the certificate and launch Jet America with it, but he could try to revive Skybus, keeping its base of operations in Columbus.
It's too early to say whether any of this will actually happen, of course. But maybe those $10 tickets will be back sooner than we imagine.
Skybus / Airlines / Low Cost Carriers / LCCs / Bill Diffenderffer / Breaking News / Airline Bankruptcy / → All Tags
Turns out that selling $10 tickets can't make you money. Skybus, which would've celebrated a year of service on May 22, has ceased operations. While the carrier's website is still up and running, a source tells us--and the Columbus Dispatch confirms--that the ultra LCC is finished as of tonight.
That makes it the fourth airline to shutter this week, another victim of high costs and a brutal industry. Skybus isn't offering any sort of alternate arrangements, so wherever you're stranded, you'll have to find your own way home.
One has to wonder if ex-CEO Bill Diffenderffer saw the writing on the wall and made an early exit. One hopes not, as that's not exactly a samuri move.
· Skybus coverage [Jaunted]
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The Diff may be gone, but Skybus is moving on. According to TheAirDB, the carrier plans to turn Portsmouth into its newest focus city, and will start flying to the Turks and Caicos sometime this summer.
Also planned are new flights to Austin, Kansas City, "New Orleans" and "Chicago." Skybus will make a short hop between Portsmouth and Wilmington, Delaware, too, which is reminiscent of the new PSM-Stewart shuttle service.
A Skybus spokesman denied the rumors this morning:
What I can confirm for you is that there is absolutely nothing to this.
It is April Fool's Day. But since this news isn't really funny--and seems totally possible--we're inclined to believe it, official denial notwithstanding.
Update: We just heard more from that Skybus spokesman:
I can absolutely tell you that Skybus has no press conference scheduled (for today or any other day in the foreseeable future), no announcements scheduled, and the folks at Portsmouth tell me they have no announcements scheduled, either.
It's going to be a long April Fool's Day.
Oh snap! We didn't quite see this one coming. Skybus CEO and Jaunted pen pal Bill Diffenderffer (pictured above, on the right) has resigned.
It's been a predictably bumpy startup for the Ryanair of America. Will new Skybus CEO (and former CFO) be able to smooth out the ride?
The Diff is returning to the writing career he left behind.
[Photo: Greg Sailor for The New York Times]
Chicago Tribune reporter John Hilkevitch recently
braved sampled Skybus' service--now once-daily to Greensboro, NC--from Gary Airport "outside of Chicago" (in Gary, IN). The Trib's got two of his videos up, plus a written review. Just like Skybus itself, Hilkevitch's praise is simple and to-the-point.
He knows that the shilling onboard is, in fact, ridiculous (though he has a "soft spot for the beef jerky"), but was pleased enough, given the low fare and early arrivals:
On the day I booked the airfare on the Internet, the same non-stop itinerary to Greensboro from O'Hare International Airport was $756.48 on United Airlines and $1,118.97 on US Airways. And neither of those serves beef jerky.
It also didn't hurt that both my outbound and inbound flights landed 20 minutes early—and the two United flights to O'Hare were listed as delayed.
So what's in the trip to Greensboro for tourists from the Chicago area? Sayeth the report: "There are some connecting flights [in Greensboro] to places that people may actually want to go..." Hee. (He does later call Greensboro "beautiful.")
Skybus / Low Cost Carriers / LCCs / New Routes / → All Tags
Ultra LCC Skybus officially announced its new schedule today, and the carrier's now booking tickets through September 2. Just don't try to fly to Niagara Falls or Chattanooga: Service to both cities has been cut.
Out of Columbus, Skybus has also cut frequencies to Milwaukee, "New York" and "Hartford," Connecticut. Similar flight cuts are happening at Piedmont Triad, where service to "New Orleans" will stop, and the airline will only fly once a day to "Chicago," "Philadelphia" and Fort Meyers.
If you're stuck holding a canceled ticket, your options are to rebook, if possible, or get a refund from the airline. (Skybus says it's emailing affected passengers.)
But it's not all bad news for cheapskate flyers. With these service cuts, Skybus will be able to expand service to Florida. We could still find plenty of $10 seats between St. Augustine and both Richmond, Virginia and Connecticut this morning.