New airline JetAmerica launched by Skybus Airlines founder

Wednesday, May 27, 2009, 15:37 by Aviation Correspondent

The founder and many former employees of the defunct low-cost carrier Skybus Airlines have announced that they are launching a new airline named JetAmerica on July 13, 2009. The flight operations of JetAmerica will be based at Toledo Express Airport in Toledo, Ohio, the United States.

JetAmerica said it will start 34 nonstop passenger flights a week from July 13, 2009 onwards.

John Weikle, who founded Skybus Airlines, said in a statement that JetAmerica would serve the US cities of Toledo, Ohio; Lansing, Michigan; South Bend, Indiana; Newark, New Jersey; and Melbourne, Florida.

JetAmerica will also add six more flights, that will fly three times a week, between Toledo and Minneapolis, from August 14, 2009.

The airline might include Port Columbus among its routes in the future, Weikle said, adding, “Dayton, Cincinnati and many other cities are under consideration as future focus cities.”

The ultra-low-cost airline Skybus Airlines, based in Columbus, Ohio, the United States, had ceased operations on April 5, 2008, less than a year after it was launched, citing a weakened economy and rising fuel costs as reasons.

A total of 450 employees had lost their jobs when Skybus Airlines closed down, out of which 365 workers were based in Columbus.

John Weikle said in the statement that “the new airline also will bring back a hallmark of Skybus Airlines” – at least nine seats on every flight will be sold for $9 each way before taxes and fees. Skybus Airlines had sold 10 seats for $10 as a part of promotion.

The former employees of Skybus Airlines involved in the new venture include Chris Grazel, former chief pilot of Skybus who is now chief operating officer of JetAmerica; and Sharon McDermott, formerly a regional station manager for Skybus Airlines and now director of stations for JetAmerica.

Miami Air, based in Florida, the United States, would do the flying for JetAmerica and supply the crew, according to John Weikle.

JetAmerica will launch operations with only one Boeing 737-800 jet, with 189 seats.

The carrier needs up to four aircraft in 2009 and hopes to control its own flight operations within two years, according to Weikle.

JetAmerica said in the statement that it hopes to earn most of its revenue through fees for items like food and checked bags.

The airline also will charge a $10 “booking fee” for each reservation.

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