Long-time readers may vaguely remember my “who the f***” series of posts, but it’s been quite awhile since my last one. When I saw “Air Azul” pop up on my radar for the second time, I figured it was time to bring it back. So who the f*** is Air Azul?
First let’s clear the air. This is not the Spanish version of JetBlue. Nor is it related to David Neeleman’s Azul venture down in Brazil. And no, it has nothing to do with Pakistan’s AirBlue. It’s just another airline trying to ride on the “coolness” that was “blue” when JetBlue took flight.
It’s first semi-scheduled route connected Nashville with Somerset, Lake Cumberland Regional Airport (Kentucky) four times a week with little Metro props. The service started on December 27, 2008 under a $1m grant, but if you believe the website, it’s ending May 1. Nice. But the airline doesn’t actually operate any aircraft – it just leases the planes from Locair to fly as a public charter. (That’s why I say it’s semi-scheduled.) So if those flights are ending, why the heck am I even writing about this airline?
Air Azul has a new plan. They’re going to continue doing public charters like so many other failed airlines before (Remember SkyValue?), but now they’re going big. You can read all about it at FlytheNewBlue.com. Yes, apparently they have decided that JetBlue is old news, and now they’ll be so much better. What exactly is going to differentiate them?
My guess is that their biggest differentiator will be their empty planes. They’re using 737-800s from Sun Country. Those planes have a lot of seats, 162 to be exact, so you’d think they’d be flying to places with decent demand, right? Not so fast. How do these routes sound?
- Baltimore to Lansing (three times weekly)
- Baltimore to Rockford (twice weekly)
- Newark to Lansing (three times weekly)
- Newark to Melbourne (Florida) (twice weekly)
- Newark to Rockford (three times weekly)
- Newark to South Bend (three times weekly)
- Newark to Toledo (three times weekly)
Something tells me that now is not the time to be betting on secondary airports in the suffering Rust Belt, but that appears to be the plan. They seem to be trying to channel Allegiant but instead of sun destinations, they’re going for New York and Baltimore. Could it work? Maybe in theory to New York, but Baltimore? I wouldn’t bet on it.
I also wouldn’t want to be flying expensive 737-800 aircraft around for this kind of operation. Let’s just say that they have an uphill battle, and that’s being kind. I’ll be particularly interested in seeing how they do with their on-time performance since their plane flies through Newark at least once a day.
I’m not quite sure what these guys are thinking, but apparently they think they’ve got something here. Anyone want to take bets?