Tag: Skybus

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2008's Most Missed Industry Casualty Is...

December 30, 2008 at 2:30 PM | by | ()

We won't rehash the old cliche about making money in the airline biz, but 2008's most spectacular flame out was surely a sign of things to come: After taking home the 2007 Jaunty for Best Travel Newcomer--and even writing us a letter of thanks for the honor!--the ultra-ambitious, ultra-low cost Skybus folded in April, a little more than a month shy of its first birthday.

Meant to mimic the success of European LCCs, Skybus had the aggressive on-board sales, in-your-face advertising and out-of-the-way airports that have made Ryanair, EasyJet and legions of imitators successful. But a home base in Columbus, ever-rising fuel prices, poor public relations--particularly during a Christmas '07 storm--and the general difficulty of starting an airline from scratch killed the carrier before many had a chance to try it.

But spirit of the bygone airline still lurks. Beyond the Skybus Flickr pool, there's the potential new airline from LCC champion John Weikle and a new gig for former Skybus COO Ken Gile at Flydubai, a low-cost airline set to take off in 2009.

Related Stories:
· Skybus Shuts Down [Jaunted]
· Nobody Wants Skybus [Jaunted]
· The Diff: Taking Notes from Gary Kelly [Jaunted]

[Photo: msmail]

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Flydubai Will Use Southwest, Not Skybus, Strategy for Success

August 13, 2008 at 11:50 AM | by | ()

Newly appointed Flydubai COO Ken Gile plans to keep costs down at his new low cost carrier by hedging the cost of fuel, a strategy most notably used by perennially profitable Southwest Airlines--but not at Skybus, where he was president and COO until the carrier went bankrupt in April.

The specifics are still being worked out, says Gile:

We are focusing on implementing a successful hedging plan and Southwest Airline's hedging strategy is something we could look at. Fuel is one of the biggest expenses for any airline so we have to look at ways to control it in order to be able to offer the lowest fares in the region.

Flydubai also plans to lower costs by promoting electronic booking and keeping planes in the sky as much as possible, two strategies Skybus did use. Wonder if the new airline will have a call center?

Related Stories:
· Flydubai Plans to Use Fuel Hedging [Emirates Business]
· Post-Skybus Life: Ex-COO Tapped for Flydubai Gig [Jaunted]
· Skybus CEO "Respects" Southwest [Jaunted]

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Post-Skybus Life: Ex-COO Tapped for Flydubai Gig

August 5, 2008 at 1:20 PM | by | ()

New low cost carrier Flydubai will have a familiar face running the show: Former Skybus COO Kenneth Gile. He's been tapped to tackle the same job for the nascent airline, which hopes to be flying by summer of next year.

It won't be the first time in the Persian Gulf for Gile, as he started his commercial career with Saudi Arabian Airlines before joining Southwest, eventually become the Texas LCC's chief pilot and director of flight operations.

He's not the only Skybus refugee moving overseas, either, it seems. Marla Matzer Rose at the Columbus Dispatch reports that some of the defunct airline's pilots are now working in China. Maybe they'll get rated to fly those nifty new ARJ21s?

Related Stories:
· Flydubai Appoints New COO [Xpress]
· Ex-Skybus Prez Lands in Dubai [CD]
· Flydubai to Launch by 2009 [Jaunted]

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Old Skybus Planes Not Yet Enjoying "Retirement"

July 29, 2008 at 4:45 PM | by | ()

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.

Here's hoping all these companies paint over that garish Skybus livery--or at least those punny ads.

Related Stories:
· Skybus' Old Planes Get Around [Columbus Dispatch]
· Skybus coverage [Jaunted]

[Photo: msmail]

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Staff Cuts Coming to an Airline Near You

June 3, 2008 at 3:00 PM | by | ()

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.

more ›

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The Diff: Taking Notes from Gary Kelly

May 22, 2008 at 10:00 AM | by | ()

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.

Related Stories:
· Southwest CEO at Fisher [OSU]
· Skybus coverage [Jaunted]

[Photo: OSU]

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Gary Airport Keeps Hanging Hopes on LCCs

Where: 6001 W. Industrial Highway [map], Gary, IN, United States, 46406
May 12, 2008 at 2:15 PM | by | ()

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.

Related Stories:
· 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]

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Nobody Wants Skybus

May 1, 2008 at 2:00 PM | by | ()

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.

Related Stories:
· No Second Chance Expected for Skybus [Columbus Dispatch]
· Skybus Lives on in Photos [Jaunted]
· Skybus coverage [Jaunted]

[Photo: msmail]

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Travel Snapshots: Skybus Lives on in Photos

April 28, 2008 at 10:00 AM | by | ()

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?!

Related Stories:
· Skybus Airlines Group [Flickr]
· Skybus coverage [Jaunted]

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Resurrection Travel: Could Skybus Return?

April 21, 2008 at 12:00 PM | by | ()

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.

Related Stories:
· New Airline Could Rise from the Ashes of Skybus [Columbus Dispatch]
· Skybus coverage [Jaunted]

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Skybus Shuts Down

April 4, 2008 at 9:12 PM | by | ()

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.

Related Stories:
· Skybus coverage [Jaunted]

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Unfunny April Fool's Travel: Skybus to Launch International Service?

April 1, 2008 at 9:46 AM | by | ()

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.

Related Stories:
· New Skybus Routes [TheAirDB]
· Bill Diffenderffer Out at Skybus [Jaunted]
· Skybus coverage [Jaunted]

[Photo: msmail]