Close
Conde Nast Traveler Concierge.com

« Photo of the Day: The Back of the Taj Mahal | Main | Your Favorite U.S. Diners, Mapped »

July 23, 2009

Jet America Flops Before It Opens

JetAmerica

by Barbara S. Peterson

Father of deregulation Alfred Kahn, the Cornell economist, once quipped that "maybe it's sex appeal, but there's something about airlines that drives investors crazy." A perfect example of this syndrome--minus, perhaps, the sex appeal--came this week as the latest low-fare wannabe, JetAmerica, confirmed the obvious: It wasn't getting off the ground anytime soon.

JetAmerica, if you recall, was offering a new twist on an old marketing gimmick. The airline, which was to serve Midwest cities like Lansing, Michigan, from Newark Airport, promised to practically give away a handful of seats on its flights at fares from $10 to $20. (Remind anyone of Skybus? That was another short-lived airline founded by the same entrepreneur, John Weikle.) Its Web site promises refunds on the roughly 25,000 tickets it had sold.

As Department of Transportation spokesman Bill Mosley explained, the airline was technically a public charter, meaning it didn't operate any planes itself but instead planned to contract for the flights with a "real" airline--and under the DOT's rules, monies collected by a charter firm must be held in escrow. The DOT said it hadn't had any complaints yet from customers who'd bought tickets.

The fiasco calls to mind other ambitious airline deals that have stayed stuck on the tarmac. Of course it's no mystery why--it's the economy, stupid--but it all makes you wonder why anyone in his right mind would go near anything with wings.

Read after the jump for a list of other recent flops.

* Pogo on-demand air taxis: This one had a very prominent backer, former American Airlines CEO Bob Crandall, and Don Burr of People Express fame was involved. The idea was to offer no-hassle service out of small airports on new jet aircraft, but not long ago it was grounded when investors pulled the plug.

* DayJet: Another great idea using the new generation of light jet aircraft to avoid big congested airports, but it fell victim to the same fate as Pogo.

* Baltia Air Lines: A nascent airline that has been in the works for years, promising nonstop flights out of JFK Airport to St. Petersburg and other cities in Russia and Eastern Europe. The airline announced a few months ago that it had been cleared to start up this summer, but it has been silent since.
 
* And then there's Clear, the moribund registered traveler program that had promised to move us through security more swiftly.

Given that 2009 is a only a little more than half over, there are surely more to come.

Further reading:
* JetAmerica is the New Air Azul is the New Skybus? (Jaunted)
* Waiting for the All Clear (CNT/Aug. 2008)
* More on Clear, the registered travel program gone missing
* So Far, a Bad Year for Air Accidents
* On the Fly: Barbara Peterson on the airline industry

Comments

Can't we please retire the inappropriate word "tarmac" to specify the place where modern mega-ton air-transport aircraft park? There hasn't been a tarred MacAdam surface (named after the 19th century Scots road engineer, as I remember) in a century, except for the odd lightplane airstrip. A 767 or Airbus A330 would sink through a true tarmac like an ice-road trucker in April.

It's not "tarmac," it's a couple feet of concrete on a thoroughly compacted bed. Call it a hardstand, like the RAF does, if you insist on a Brit-ism...

click to post a comment >

About this blog
The editors at Conde Nast Traveler answer questions and share travel secrets, tips, and dispatches

Twitter: CNTraveler
RSS: RSS Feed
Email: Daily updates

WEEKLY TOPICS
RECENT COMMENTS


UPDATES ON TWITTER

TRAVEL BLOGS
Featured in Alltop

Prices and other information were accurate at press time, but are subject to change. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

EXPRESS SIGN-UP Sign up for one of our exciting panels and receive the latest news, travel offers, and event invitations from Condé Nast Traveler and our valued advertising partners.

http://www.cntpromo.com/ex.asp
Traveler Magazine

My Concierge.com

Advertisement

Advertisement

I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its User Agreement, Privacy Policy, and Mobile Terms and Conditions.

 
iPhone App:

Create personalized postcards out of your favorite travel photos!

Learn More ›
Subscribe to our free RSS feeds:

Get the latest destinations picks, hot hotel lists, travel deals and blog posts automatically added to your newsreader or your personalized homepage.

Learn More ›

Special Advertisement

Contests, Sweepstakes & Promotions