A new low-cost airline will begin serving mid-sized U.S. cities that it thinks larger carriers have left behind.
Clearwater, Florida-based JetAmerica said 34 nonstop passenger flights a week will start July 13 at Toledo, Ohio; South Bend, Indiana; Melbourne, Florida; Newark, New Jersey.; Minneapolis and Lansing, Michigan. Twenty-eight flights start or end at Newark Liberty International Airport. The carrier will add six more flights – from Toledo to Minneapolis – beginning August 14.
JetAmerica is targeting small and midsize cities like Lansing, which has seen the number of daily flights at its Capital Region International Airport fall from 35 to 12 the past five years. The decline is part of a national trend that has seen airfares increase at those airports as daily flights have decreased.
Robert Selig, head of the Capital Region Airport Authority, said JetAmerica will give Lansing business travelers direct access to New York City and carry leisure travelers to central Florida.
“We don’t have access to either one right now,” Selig said. “So, this is going to fill a major void in our schedule.”
Prices will start at $9 a seat and top out at $199. The $9 price will apply to the first nine to 19 seats on each plane. Passengers will pay $15 to check a bag. Food, drinks and in-flight TV will also come at a cost.
The carrier is starting out with one Boeing 737-800, expects to add a second in the first month, and have as many as four by July of next year. Weikle’s business plans calls for an additional 189-seat jet to be leased every four months. Each Boeing 737-800 can fly to four cities a day, Weikle said.
Weikle estimated JetAmerica’s revenue at more than $50 million in the first year and about $150 million in the second. He compares his business model to that of Wal-Mart Inc., which started out by serving cities of less than 50,000 people because competitors were not interested in them.