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John Weikle, JetAmerica Still Scouting a Hub

September 9, 2008 at 3:20 PM | by | ()

Officials at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International--one of America's most expensive airports--have confirmed that Skybus founder John Weikle toured CVG's Terminal 1 and is considering rebuilding his ultra-LCC JetAmerica in Southwest Ohio. The Cincinnati Enquirer had the news this morning, along with a money quote from an airport spokesman:

It was a feeling-out process to see how interested we were in him and how interested he would be with us. We think that what he's looking for is venture capital--and that wouldn't come from us at the airport, but rather from the community at large.

We all remember how well that worked out last time! Maybe they could get a little seed money from California?

Related Stories:
· New Airline for CVG? [Enquirer]
· JetAmerica coverage [Jaunted]

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Abandonded Airlines: JetAmerica Still Worth At Least $1,800

August 25, 2008 at 9:45 AM | by | ()

Remember JetAmerica? It was to be the second coming of Skybus--until oil got super-expensive and everyone realized starting an airline is no way to make money. Last we heard, the project was scrapped in April.

But a tipster reports that there's still a little bit of cash floating around:

You are the only place I could find that might be able to let Jet America know they have funds sitting in the California State Controller's Office. It's only $1800+, but something is better than nothing.

Too true! Somebody call Weikle!

Related Stories:
· Jet America All But Finished [Jaunted]
· What the Skybus Shutdown Means for Jet America [Jaunted]

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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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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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JetAmerica All But Finished

April 8, 2008 at 2:14 PM | by | ()

On Monday morning, the future for JetAmerica looked pretty grim, but we were holding out hope that John Weikle could get his airline aloft. But after Skybus went down in flames, he decided to pull the plug on the new project.

Charleston Area Alliance President Matt Ballard says fundraising for the project has stopped, and the Daily Mail quotes Weikle as saying checks are going back to investors. That's the end of Jet America for now.

Meanwhile Ballard says a lack of leadership on national energy policy is what's killing airlines these days, not a bogus business model:

I think all of the investors here in the local area still believe in John Weikle's ultra-low cost carrier model. In fact, there were many who despite the Skybus announcement wanted to move forward...I believe John will make this model work in the US; it works for Air Asia and Ryanair.

Related Stories:
· Skybus Founder Says Refunds of Public Money Coming [Daily Mail]
· What the Skybus Shutdown Means for Jet America [Jaunted]
· Jet America coverage [Jaunted]

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What the Skybus Shutdown Means for JetAmerica

April 7, 2008 at 11:37 AM | by | ()

Skybus plans to file for bankruptcy in Delaware today, and that has a lot of people in West Virginia nervous. How's that? The founder of the 'bus, John Weikle, is now at work on JetAmerica, an ultra-LCC set to take off from Charleston in 2009.

Among those sweating is Yeager Airport Director Rick Atkinson:

[The Skybus shutdown] is like throwing a wet blanket on plans for Jet America...I don't see how we could go forward with this model.

Also worried is at least one local business leader--who's now frozen some of that seed money his group pledged to Jet America:

There's no way we would have done this if I didn't think Skybus was successful.

For his part, Jaunted pen pal Matt Ballard hasn't given up on the idea of Jet America. But we have to wonder: Does it count as an airline shuttering if the carrier never took a flight?

Related Stories:
· Weikle's Skybus Ceases Operations [Charleston Gazette]
· Top Secret Airline Watch: More Details on Jet America [Jaunted]
· Jet America coverage [Jaunted]

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Top Secret Airline Watch: More Details on JetAmerica

April 3, 2008 at 11:39 AM | by | ()

Though it's still a long way off, more details are leaking out about the planned ultra-low cost carrier JetAmerica. At present, we'll be waiting until at least 2009 to see some actual planes.

Until then, The Charleston Gazette has the details on what to expect:

The paint scheme--called the aircraft livery--features a tail with a blue background and white stars. The rest of the back-end of the plane will be red, with a white outline. The airline's name...and website will also be on the side of the plane.

While the model of plane is still under wraps, the aircraft will hold at least 120 passengers, one investor said.

As far as we can tell, president John Weikle, pictured, is still shopping around for a $40 million investment to help things along. And Matt Ballard--who we spoke with recently--says destinations and more information should be released soon.

Related Stories:
· Jet America Details Still Under Wraps [Charleston Gazette]
· Jaunted Interviews: Matt Ballard Fills Us in on Project New Horizons [Jaunted]
· Top Secret Airline Watch: Yeager LCC Will Be Called Jet America [Jaunted]

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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.

more ›

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Top Secret Airline Watch: Yeager LCC Will Be Called JetAmerica

March 13, 2008 at 2:43 PM | by | ()

According to a Jaunted tipster, and now confirmed by the Charleston Daily Mail, Skybus founder John Weikle's Project New Horizons has an official name: JetAmerica, World Police. Ok, we made up the world police part. Besides, you would think an airline based at Yeager would go after a name like The Right Stuff -- nope.

JetAmerica Inc. was registered on Nov. 26 with the federal Securities and Exchange Commission.

JetAmerica is a name from the aviation bone yard. Seven California businessmen established an airline with that name in 1981 in Long Beach. The original JetAmerica started with flights between Long Beach and Chicago.

...an action adventure airline from the creators of South Park Skybus.

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Top Secret Airline Watch: Details Emerging on Project New Horizons

March 4, 2008 at 12:20 PM | by | ()

The nascent low cost carrier from Skybus founder John Weikle is one step closer to reality. Investors, including business alliances in Charleston, West Virginia, have cobbled together $3 million in seed money to start Project New Horizons.

There's understandably some skepticism about the project, in light of Independence Air's short-lived service to Charleston's Yeager Airport. Weikle told The Charleston Gazette the new project will be different:

Independence Air made use of the hub-and-spoke system, with its main hub at Washington's Dulles International, and competed with major carriers on nearly all its routes, Weikle said. The low-cost operation envisioned for Charleston, he said, "will offer point-to-point service" with no connecting routes, on routes not served by major carriers.

With the initial money in hand, Weikle is now looking for $40 million from institutional investors. If he can get that cash quickly, we could see a new airline by the end of 2008. As for potential destinations, we probably won't hear anything until next month.

Related Stories:
· $3 Million Airline Seed Is Planted [Gazette]
· Top Secret Airline Watch: Project New Horizons [Jaunted]
· New Airlines coverage [Jaunted]

[Photo of CRW: Google Maps]

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Top Secret Airline Watch: Project New Horizons

February 27, 2008 at 10:36 AM | by | ()

Back in early 2003, an airline industry veteran named John Weikle left US Airways to start Skybus. And though the ultra-LCC has moved on, he apparently still has the start-up itch. Weikle's rumored to be backing a new airline that'll be based at Yeager Airport in Charleston, West Virginia.

At this early stage, there aren't many details about Project New Horizons, other than the Bond movie name. A local business alliance is planning to chip in some money for the start-up. But the numbers being tossed out at this stage are frighteningly low; one official says $3 million is the goal for this round of fundraising. (Skybus started operations with $160 million in the bank.)

As for Yeager Airport, it seems like a decent candidate for a new ultra-low cost carrier. It currently has regional service on five of the six legacy carriers. Aside from some seasonal service from a charter airline, an LCC would be the first point-to-point carrier to touch down at CRW.

It's worth mentioning, too, that Skybus' home base of Columbus is just three hours from Yeager. Could we be gearing up for a Stateside version of the eternal Ryanair/Easyjet battle? We hope so!

Related Stories:
· Charleston Group to Invest in Discount Airline Startup [Daily Mail]
· Low Cost Carriers coverage [Jaunted]

[Photo of CRW: Google Maps]