JetAmerica Not Coming To PTIA

GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. -- So long, it appears, JetAmerica - we hardly knew you. The start-up discount airline that announced plans earlier this year to begin flights this summer - and was considering Piedmont Triad...


GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. --

So long, it appears, JetAmerica - we hardly knew you.

The start-up discount airline that announced plans earlier this year to begin flights this summer - and was considering Piedmont Triad International Airport for future service - has suspended sales to all markets. The Clearwater, Fla.-based company announced earlier this month that it would begin offering refunds to customers who booked initial JetAmerica flights.

"We are reluctantly suspending our public charter operations ...," said John Weikle, JetAmerica chief executive officer, in a statement issued July 17.

JetAmerica, which planned to develop its first hub at Newark International Airport, left open the possibility of offering flights again in the future.

PTIA officials had been in talks with JetAmerica about service to the Triad. But Piedmont Triad Airport Authority Chairman Henry Isaacson said this week that JetAmerica no longer is a viable option for PTIA, at least in the near future.

"They never got a flight off the ground," Isaacson said during the authority's monthly meeting Tuesday.

Isaacson, a Greensboro attorney and civic leader, told The High Point Enterprise Wednesday that PTIA continues to seek more flights.

"We have continual talks with airlines about new and expanded service," he said.

JetAmerica's Weikle helped launch the last discount airline that came to PTIA with much fanfare in 2007 and left abruptly in the spring of 2008. Skybus Airlines Inc. established PTIA as its second hub-type operation and offered up to 18 daily flights by early last year. But financial challenges and high fuel prices grounded Skybus in early April 2008, leaving about 100 local employees at PTIA and thousands of passengers across the country in the lurch.

Last month, the authority announced a settlement with Skybus, which filed for bankruptcy right after ceasing operations. PTIA received a $405,000 settlement from Skybus for money owed the airport, which represented about 80 percent of the money due from claims against the airline.

This article appeared in Thursday's edition of the High Point Enterprise.

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