San Diego, Jacksonville, and Hartford, CT; Skybus Adds Destinations

Skybus Airlines will put three new routes on sale at its website


Missed out on those $10 Skybus fares to California and Florida for the summer? You'll get another chance today.

Starting at 6 a.m., Skybus Airlines will put three new routes on sale at its website, Skybus.com.

The new routes include San Diego; St. Augustine, Fla.; and Chicopee, Mass.

The St. Augustine stop puts travelers in reach of Jacksonville and Daytona Beach, while Chicopee also serves Hartford, Conn., and Springfield, Mass.

The new routes will be added in mid-July. The airline also will add a second daily nonstop flight starting in July to Fort Lauderdale, one of its most popular routes so far.

As with all its flights, Skybus will make at least 10 seats on each flight available for $10 each way before taxes and fees.

On April 24, the first day Skybus started selling tickets for its first set of routes, it sold more than 60,000 tickets by 5 p.m. There were almost no $10 tickets left by day's end to top destinations such as Los Angeles, San Francisco and Fort Lauderdale.

Bexley resident Arlene Armstrong and her husband suddenly found themselves planning multiple trips before 7 a.m. that first day.

"We booked flights today for Boston, Richmond, Kansas City, San Francisco and Seattle," Armstrong wrote in an e-mail to The Dispatch last month. "The total cost for 10 tickets was only $399."

With about 240,000 tickets sold to date, Skybus executives say sales have been stronger than expected.

"Demand for tickets to our original eight destinations has exceeded all of our expectations," said Bill Diffenderffer, chief executive. He added that several new destinations as well as more flights on existing routes will be added before the end of the year.

However, the new airline, which logged its first flight May 22, encountered some turbulence in its first week. Skybus President Ken Gile said technical staff members were working to resolve issues with the software that reports flight status. For the moment, Skybus has removed flight-status information from its Web site.

Gile also points to software glitches as well as some uncontrollable events, such as strong headwinds, for causing delays of an hour or more on several Skybus flights within the first several days.

The airline has been operating with only two jets, so a delay of 10 or 15 minutes on one leg of the trip can quickly stack up as the plane moves across the country.

"I would say, overall, we're executing quite well at startup," Gile said. "But we are tackling some issues that have arisen. I was at Southwest (Airlines) for 25 years, and you never stop working on these kinds of things."

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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