Three More Destinations; New Cities Help Skybus' Sales Surge Again

Skybus Airlines received another boost in ticket sales yesterday when the Columbus carrier put tickets to three new destinations on sale to the public.

More than 20,000 tickets were sold by 4:30 p.m., Skybus CEO Bill Diffenderffer said. Tickets went on sale about 7:45 a.m., after a software glitch delayed the planned 6:00 a.m. launch.

During its first day of sales last month, 60,000 tickets were sold before the end of the day. At that time, the airline unveiled its first eight destinations.

The three new cities served by Skybus are San Diego; St. Augustine, Fla.; and Chicopee, Mass. Flights to these cities begin in mid-July.

It was virtually impossible by late yesterday to book a Columbus to San Diego flight for $10. The airline sells at least 10 seats on every flight for $10 each.

Liz Murray was one of the lucky ones who got on the Web site before 10 a.m. to seek the lowest fares.

"We used to live there, and my son still lives there," the Ashville resident said. "This will be my first trip back to San Diego since we moved."

About 9:30 a.m., Murray had to settle for a roundtrip fare of $60 before taxes. But she's not complaining.

"When my son came to visit last year, it cost over $300 for a flight that wasn't nonstop," Murray said.

San Diego has been the largest market not served by direct flights from Port Columbus, according to the Columbus Regional Airport Authority. The authority recently estimated that more than 120 passengers per day travel in each direction between San Diego and Columbus.

Jacksonville, which is 34 miles from St. Augustine/St. Johns County Airport, also has lacked direct service from Columbus.

Flying to Chicopee puts travelers within reach of Hartford, Conn., and Springfield, Mass.

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.

mrose@dispatch.com



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