Skybus redux: here comes jetamerica, the new low-fare carrier
A new low-cost airline will begin serving mid-sized U.S. cities that it thinks larger carriers have left behind. Clearwater, Fla.-based JetAmerica says 34 nonstop passenger flights a week will start July 13 at Toledo, OH; South Bend, IN; Melbourne, FL; Newark; Minneapolis; and Lansing, MI. Twenty-eight flights start or end at Newark Liberty Int’l Airport. The carrier will add six more flights -- from Toledo to Minneapolis -- starting Aug. 14. JetAmerica is targeting small and midsize cities like Lansing, which has seen the number of daily flights at its Capital Region Int’l Airport fall from 35 to 12 the past five years.
The Lansing, South Bend, Melbourne, and Toledo airports reportedly are subsidizing JetAmerica with $1.4 million in grants in its first year, along with about $867,000 in waived airport fees and $1.1 million in marketing and advertising assistance. The airports received their grants from the U.S. DOT’s Small Community Air Service Development Program. Newark and Minneapolis are not offering assistance. Prices will start at $9 a seat and top out at $199.
John Weikle, chief executive of JetAmerica, founded the Columbus, OH-based Skybus last year.
Babbitt confirmed as next faa administrator
In May, J. Randolph “Randy” Babbitt was confirmed by the U.S. Senate as the next Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration. Babbitt has been involved in aviation policymaking for several years. He began his career as a commercial airline pilot for Eastern Air Lines and is a former president of the Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l, and is the founder and former president of Eclat Consulting, which provides strategic, analytical, and financial consulting for regulatory, legislative, and business initiatives in aviation. Babbitt most recently was a partner in the aviation practice of the international management consulting firm Oliver Wyman. He has also served on several governmental panels studying the ways in which air safety can be advanced.
Babbitt becomes the FAA’s 16th Administrator.
Appeals court rules against Santa Monica
A federal appeals court has upheld a legal order obtained by FAA that blocks the city of Santa Monica, CA from banning certain business aircraft from its municipal airport until the FAA’s review of the restriction is complete. The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals left in place a preliminary injunction sought by the FAA in U.S. District Court last year. The federal justices indicated that Santa Monica was unlikely to prevail when the FAA rules on whether to reject the city’s jet ban.
Santa Monica has sought to prohibit jets with landing speeds of 138-191 mph from using the airport, which lies amid residential and commercial areas. Santa Monica officials argued that the preliminary injunction shouldn’t have been issued by the lower court because FAA failed to grant the city a hearing and did not rule on the ban’s legality before taking steps to block it.
Lahood puts a stop to new york slot auctions
U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announces that the federal government is dropping a proposal from the Bush Administration that would have redistributed takeoff and landing slots at New York LaGuardia, JFK, and Newark airports. DOT, in attempting to deal with congestion at those airports, proposed taking away some slots from incumbent carriers and auctioning off a lesser number of slots to other airlines.
The Air Transport Association and the airlines were able to hold up its implementation in federal court. LaHood said in a New York speech that the Obama administration was dropping the idea. “We’re still serious about tackling aviation congestion in the New York region,” comments LaHood. “I’ll be talking with airline, airport, and consumer stakeholders, as well as elected officials, over the summer about the best ways to move forward.”
In a press release DOT points out that most comments on the proposal opposed the slot auction. Notable among the opponents was the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, which operates the facilities.
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