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Rental Cars / Cars / DFW / Bill Diffenderffer / Silvercar / Skybus / → All Tags
Silvercar is still very much the new kid on the block when it comes to rental cars, but they’re already trying to connect with the cool kids who flock to Austin. Unfortunately they’re not quite ready to open up at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport just yet, but they are heading into town in advance of this year’s edition of SxSW.
In case you need a quick refresher, the deal with Silvercar is that everyone gets the same car—a silver Audi A4—and the whole process is pretty much completed from the comfort of your mobile phone. Right now they’re just doing their thing in and out of Dallas-Ft. Worth Airport, but like we said they’re on the move down to a temporary home in Austin.
Rental Cars / Cars / DFW / Bill Diffenderffer / Silvercar / Skybus / → All Tags
A couple months ago we mentioned this little start-up called Silvercar. In case you forgot they’re basically the latest entry into the crowded rental car market. However, they’re hoping to be successful by offering up only one kind of car—silver Audi A4s. It also doesn’t hurt that they’ve got former Skybus head honcho Bill Diffenderffer on the books as well.
Right before Christmas they flipped the switch on their website, and now Silvercar is open for your booking pleasure. Everything is a little limited to start—as in very limited—because it’s only in Dallas-Ft. Worth thus far. They’ve got to start somewhere, and the rental cars start flowing out of the airport as soon as January 14.
It’s been six months or so since we introduced you to the wonder of Silvercar and their dream of taking over the rental car market. Former head honcho over at Skybus—Bill Diffenderffer—is still involved now serving as executive chairman, as the company just raised another $11.5 million in funding as they hope to get things rolling before the end of the year.
Their plan is to take the aggravation out of the rental car process. This will be accomplished with a little help from the Zipcar model, as they’ll use a smartphone app and some fancy scanner-code-things to have you gain access to your rental car. Speaking of cars, all the cars will be silver and they’ll all be 2013 Audi A4s. That doesn’t leave much room for the potential for an upgrade, but of course we’re definitely not going to complain when our app gives us access to one of these suckers.
We’re all about awesome rental cars, so we’re especially intrigued about a new rental car company that’s poised to hit the scene sooner rather than later. Of course we’re excited to see what kind of awesome wheels will be available to the masses, but we’re also kind of pumped to hear about the company’s management team. Usually we couldn’t care less, but this time is different as the former CEO of SkyBus is apparently behind the new venture.
SilverCar is an Austin—of course—based start-up rental car company, and according to government paperwork they’ve already raised around $3 million bucks towards their hopes and dreams. The website for the new idea is still lacking, but it does look like they’re describing the endeavor as “a technology company that will make renting a luxury car as simple as pushing a button on your phone.” We love luxury cars and pushing buttons on our phones, so we’re pretty much sold.
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.
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]
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]
Just a couple days after Skybus announced it would be slowing its growth and focusing on more profitable routes, we hear the ultra LCC will start "Boston" to "New York" service. The airline will also add three new flights to Florida.
The Skybus shuttle flights will leave out of Portsmouth, New Hampshire and arrive in Newburg, New York, a decent haul from Manhattan. Still, you're not gonna catch a flight between Logan and JFK for $10 on any of the legacy carriers.
As for beefing up its Florida offerings, Skybus is adding a flight out of Richmond, Virginia to St. Augustine. Another non-focus city, Springfield, Massachusetts, will also add two Florida destinations soon. Looks like CEO Bill Diffenderffer really meant what he said:
We like Florida.
If you're only charging $10 for some of your seats, it's not a good time to be spending more money on super-pricey jet fuel. So Skybus plans to shake up its route network after July 31, trimming under-performing flights and adding service where the airline can make money.
The ultra LCC originally planned to double in size this year. Now CEO Bill Diffenderffer says his carrier will expand at half that rate. Skybus is still on track to become profitable in 2008, he says, and an order for 65 new planes still stands.
While you might expect the airline's one flight to Burbank to be on the chopping block, Diffenderffer tells the Columbus Dispatch it's too popular to cut. As for new routes, rumor has it Skybus will soon expand service to Florida, possibly from non-focus cities.
Skybus / Low Cost Carriers / LCCs / Bill Diffenderffer / GYY / → All Tags
When Skybus announced it would fly into Gary, Indiana, locals had more than a sideways glance for the ultra-no-frills airline. After all, they'd seen a number of carriers--including Hooters Air--come and go over the years. So Skybus CEO Bill Diffenderffer had some 'splaining to do when the Times of Northwest Indiana called up to chat about the airline's future plans.
The Skybus chief tells reporter Keith Benman that while Gary-Chicago International hasn't had much success with commercial airlines lately, the congestion at bigger airports that's recently strangled domestic service is making smaller airports more attractive. Diffenderffer says everyone benefits from fewer delays and smaller terminals: The airlines can turn planes around quickly and passengers don't have all the parking, security and baggage hassles of, say, O'Hare.
And while another low fare carrier you may have heard of, Southwest, is also operating out of a secondary Chicago-area airport, Midway, Skybus doesn't see them as the competition, Diffenderffer says:
What you'll find is that we actually don't fly against Southwest. We try to not fly against Southwest, because we respect them too much. What we want to fly against are the connections on 50-seat airlines.
Skybus / Low Cost Carriers / LCCs / New Routes / Bill Diffenderffer / CMH / GSO / IAG / ILG / GYY / → All Tags
We talk a lot about Skybus around here, and we've even gone so far to name the low cost carrier Best Travel Newcomer of 2007. All of which prompted Skybus CEO Bill Diffenderffer (at right in the photo) to write in to say hello. We've been hard on the airline in the past, but we've got nothing but respect for a guy who will reach out to tell his side of the story:
I was flattered and surprised that you selected Skybus as Best Travel Newcomer--whatever that means! I was surprised because most bloggers still don't understand our model. They want us to have help desks and generally behave in a manner similar to what they are used to (even though that model doesn't work very well). It is not possible to do that at the fares that we charge.
What Diffenderffer didn't mention were rumors that Skybus could soon announce service to "Philadelphia" (actually Wilmington, Delaware), "Chicago" (Gary, Indiana) and "Toronto" (Niagara Falls, New York, 80 miles away and in a different country). The carrier's been scouting Niagara Falls for months, so something's definitely shaking on that front.
Officials at the airports are staying mum, as is the airline's spokesman. But all three destinations would fit well into Skybus' model of smaller airports in outlying areas serving passengers who wouldn't normally have access to commercial flights. Here's hoping Diffenderffer emails us as soon as he's ready to confirm all three of the new cities.
Early this morning we drove ourselves to the long dormant Pease airport in Portsmouth New Hampshire and boarded Skybus flight number two, which landed in Columbus Ohio not too long ago. Fellow passengers included Skybus CEO Bill Diffenderffer and the companies chief operating officer Ken Gile. Also, plenty of college kids and young families, psyched to shell out just $10 each way to visit family, were on the A319.
The flight itself was smooth and landed at 11:11 am, just a couple minutes late. For now we will leave you with a video of us heading out to the plane at Pease. Our uncontrollably shaky camera work shows that we must have been extremely excited to board the plane. Stay tuned for plenty more.