Skybus to add 4 cities, 2 planes in December

Starting today, Columbus travelers bound for Atlanta, New Orleans and Fort Myers, Fla., will have a chance to book tickets costing as little as $10 on Skybus Airlines.

In keeping with Skybus' penchant for flying to cheaper and less crowded airports, those flights will actually land in Chattanooga, Tenn.; Biloxi, Miss.; and Punta Gorda, Fla.

Skybus will begin selling tickets to those airports and to Milwaukee, the one major city airport on the list of new destinations, starting at 6 a.m. today on

Service on these new routes will begin Dec. 5; in addition, a second daily flight to St. Augustine, Fla., a current Skybus destination, will begin Dec. 17.

The additions will bring to 15 the number of cities Skybus serves from Port Columbus.

In December, the airline will add two planes to its fleet of five.

"We believe our pricing structure will not only attract current fliers but open up the market to many others who now find air travel simply too expensive," said Bill Diffenderffer, Skybus CEO, in a statement announcing the new service.

The Columbus-based airline, launched in May, has been able to fly full or nearly so on many of its routes by targeting popular destinations not being served by direct flights from Columbus. These have included San Diego, San Francisco (via Oakland, Calif.) and Seattle (via Bellingham, Wash.).

New Orleans had been a "target market" eligible for incentives from Port Columbus before Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005, indicating there was strong demand from Columbus but no direct air service.

Skybus makes at least 10 seats on every flight available for $10 each way. Including taxes and fees, that makes the total round-trip cost for those buying $10 tickets about $40.

Tickets are sold only on Skybus' Web site; the airline does not offer a phone line for reservations or for customer service.

To date, all of the other cities Skybus serves connect only to Columbus. If someone wants to fly to Columbus, then on to another city, the traveler must collect any luggage and check in again for a second flight.

It was disclosed in a New Hampshire publication this week, though, that the Pease airport in Portsmouth, which Skybus serves, might get two daily flights to Florida beginning this winter. Allegiant Air had previously operated Florida flights from there but moved those departures to Bangor, Maine, this year.

Skybus investors include Nationwide Mutual Capital, Huntington Capital Investment Co., Battelle Services Co. and Wolfe Enterprises Inc., a subsidiary of The Dispatch Printing Company, which publishes The Dispatch.