Jet America Officially Launches From Its Toledo Base

After some fits and starts, it appears that Jet America (or JetAmerica, they write it differently in different places) is actually going to get up and running. You can stop checking the calendar. It’s not April Fool’s Day. This airline is actually planning a Toledo base.

I honestly couldn’t Jet America's Whimpermake this sound any worse if I tried. The CEO is John Weikle, one of the original founders of Skybus. He has slightly tweaked the plans laid out when the airline was going to be named Air Azul. Now, the flights from Rockford are gone, as are the BWI connectors. And instead of infringing upon JetBlue’s trademark, they’ll now infringe upon Alaska’s trademark. Alaska still owns the trademark for Jet America to provide charter airline services. And yes, this is a charter operation for now.

Assuming that doesn’t cause them problems, flights begin on July 13 between Newark and Lansing, Melbourne (Florida), South Bend, and the mighty Toledo. It looks like the Toledo hub starts growing on August 14 when flights to Minneapolis begin with the arrival of the second aircraft.

How the heck is this going to work? Four of the six airports involved will pour in more than $3m in the first year to kickstart the service. Can you guess which two won’t be paying? Yeah, exactly. Minneapolis and Newark hardly need to pay for this, but the others are desperate to build service.

My understanding was that Rockford was willing to waive some fees to get them in there as well, so why did they drop it? One article has Weikle saying, “Lansing and South Bend stayed on the roster because they were close to Toledo, so it would be easier to shuttle planes between them.” Oh yeah, always a good idea to fly to cities because they’re close to each other. Yikes.

The idea is to offer more Allegiant-style flying where you only fly a couple days a week to most cities. The plane spends every night in Toledo and then flies out to different places each day. The most frequent is to Newark which happens every morning but Saturday. South Bend, on the other hand, only sees two flights a week from Newark.

The schedule is really funky. There were a lot of typos in the schedule, but most I could figure out. Assuming that the flight from Melbourne to Toledo should take the same 2 and a half hours that the southbound flight takes (and not the 1 and a half hours in the schedule and on the reservation system), they’ll only be utilizing their aircraft for 9.75 hours a day.

Even that doesn’t show the true utilization during the day, because the schedule has a lot of wasted ground time. No turn is shorter than an hour and some, including Lansing in the middle of the day, are over two hours long. Could this be to accommodate the guaranteed delays they’ll face out of Newark? No, they’ve already built that in to a schedule For example, the afternoon flight from Newark to Toledo is blocked at 45 minutes longer than a late night flight on the same route.

This strategy may work for Allegiant where their fixed costs are low, but you generally don’t want to see brand-spanking new airplanes sitting on the ground for that long. It’s hard to pay for them that way. This may not matter for now under their lease agreement, but if they truly plan to be operating their own airline within two years, this is hardly the right precedent to set.

Maybe they’ll do better with their second plane. After all, CEO John Weikle admits that they’re only running the first plane like this because of all the incentives they’re getting. But the second airplane that comes in August will have a morning flight from Toledo to Minneapolis and then a late night return. It seems to me that they’re setting up Minneapolis to look a lot like Newark once the second plane comes around. The press release (which could be one of the worst press release ever assembled) says that future focus cities could include Rockford, Cincinnati, Columbus, Dayton, Greensboro, Pittsburgh, St Petersburg (Florida), and yes, Charleston (West Virginia).

Tickets are supposed to be on sale now at jetamerica.com, though at last check, the site was down due to a database error. This could be one of the most disorganized efforts I’ve seen in a long time.

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51 Comments on "Jet America Officially Launches From Its Toledo Base"

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Stuart
Guest

There isn’t a single part of this start-up that makes operational, macro-economic, or investor sense. You’ll get desparate regional airports to pony up, that will dry, flyers will go, huh?…and the whole thing will die.

How does somebody like Weikle start a presentation when he gives his bio that includes SkyBus?

I don’t get it.

David SF eastbay
Member
I have a blog buddy who is from Toledo and was living in California. He moved back last year to be near family and has since moved back to California. He said to many people are out of work in Toledo and the area in a downward spin ever before the economy went sour. So really who is going to and from Toledo? I could understand if they were setting up a hub type system with the ‘spokes’ being the real big travel markets and just needed an unused cheap place to connect everyone somewhere in the middle so why… Read more »
A
Guest

According to their website the Mpls/St. Paul flights are via MPS, which is very odd because Mount Pleasant airport isn’t really too close to the twin cities.

David SF eastbay
Member

I just looked at their web page, “9 seats for $9.00” on every flight. That’s much more of a draw then Skybus was with their 10 seats for $10.00. Jet America will be in the black before you know it.

Now how many seats on a 737-800 do they need to fill to and from Toledo to turn a profit?

SmarteCart Theif
Guest

Either Weikle is the smartest SOB alive for being able to convince people to back this stuff up, or he is the dumbest SOB alive for actually believing this will work. It’s kind of one of those scenarios where you don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

I’ve decided to to revamp Hughes Airwest and base it in Dubuque.

BLR
Guest
If you are an investor in this, please let me know. I have a great idea for an airline myself that is a hybrid of the Ryanair/Allegiant model. I’m going to buy a couple of old MD-80s from American and fly them from the grass strip in my backyard to my office downtown. 1000 ft is long enough for an MD80, right? There’s probably like 50 people in my neighborhood who work close to where I do, so if we charge them $10 a day (5 days a week; 7 days would be silly!), that should cover operating costs, right?… Read more »
Nick Barnard
Member

Wow, can they go public so I can short their stock?

Seriously how does anyone expect this to work? I love how they say “9 Seats for $9 Every Flight. No Exceptions & Not A Gimmick.” Uh sounds like a gimmick to me. Who taught these guys to capitalize?

Interesting enough the server error only appears for me on the front page when I load the page in Internet Explorer, not Firefox. But when I search for a fare in firefox it gives me an error.. geez.

Jason Steele
Guest

You guys are looking at this all wrong. Does anyone remember the plot from the play/movie “The Producers”?

David
Guest

So who’s wants to start taking bets on when JetAmerica will go bust ? Can anyone give me reasonably good odds on ceasing operations by the end of September please ?

nostephenson
Member

I have a quick question about how the airline is being operated as a public charter carrier versus a regular, scheduled passenger carrier? I thought once the airline had established a set regular schedule they were considered a scheduled passenger carrier?

My question is trying to get at why would they be classified as this and what makes that different than a traditional legacy carrier or even Allegiant? Does this opt them out of any FAA regulations?

Nick Barnard
Member

Neal,
A public charter is basically where one company pays an airline to fly their plane at specific dates/times and then they sell individual seats to the public.

They have specific requirements (the customer’s ticket purchases are held in escrow until the plane flies and some more stuff.)

kcasper
Member

My favorite part is the fares do not include a $5 convenience fee for each leg of a trip (it is more if booked by phone.) I suppose it is convenient for a customer to be able to complete the booking process, so maybe the mandatory fee is reasonable.

Yo
Guest

“why the monorail put North Haverbrook on the map!”

Will this airline go out of business quicker than Roots Air?, or Jet Train? or the “New Western Airlines”

I love how these desperate towns are so willing to bend over for an airline.

Because, last time I checked, people flock to Lansing for the uh.. thing in Lansing that is so cool, no wait, I meant Toledo, where they have the uh…..

They could call this airlines “New Coke/Milli Vanilli/Edsel/XFL airlines”

I just hope no one gets hurt too bad and that the employees are going into this disaster with their eyes open….

Jeb
Guest

This really is a wacky operation. If they are going to operate an all new fleet of 737-800s why are they showing a 737-900ER aircraft in their color scheme on their home page? Are they going to eventually add 739s?

John
Guest

This is the most ghetto, shady airline I’ve seen in quite some time. The press release looks like it was created by a 6th grader (http://www.jetamerica.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/jetamerica-news-release-final.pdf). If it weren’t for the fact that I worked at Skybus and know Weikle is completely serious about this (as well as being completely nuts), I would think this was all a joke. Very, very sad. I strongly urge those working for this “airline” to resign now and chalk this up to a bad lapse of judgment.

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[…] Flier covered this nicely yesterday, but since I keep reading stories about JetAmerica I wanted to make a quick note […]

nigel
Guest

Mr weikle should leave the airline business to those buffoons who run big airlines and have proven that that don’t know how to run a business.

Ken
Guest

All this does is hurt the existing airlines. By throwing his nutty idea into the ring…enough people will fly his nutty airline only to detract from the revenues needed at the reputable airlines. Its going to hurt the existing airlines temporarily. JetAmerica will be in the airline graveyard right next to Skybus, Hooters Air, Independance Air, Jet Express just to name a few. It didn’t work for them…wont work for him. Weikle needs to have his ego examined. His ego is writing a check his airline cant cash!

Eric
Guest

Hmmm…I thought airline employees are subject to DoT drug testing???

Oh wait, that is just us front-line slobs…apparently management gets a free (toke) pass :/

This is a pretty transparent attempt to bilk third-tier airports out of their stimulus money..not only does this have Hall of Fail written all over it, I really REALLY hope that if my theory is correct, the Solicitor General goes after these worms with the full force of the law. If you think my remarks are harsh, look at what Wiekle and Schoen did to Gulfport…..

http://www.columbusdispatch.com/live/content/business/stories/2009/05/28/jetamerica_investor.ART_ART_05-28-09_A8_C1E0AO6.html

Oliver
Guest
i think if weikle had the itching bug to produce start up companies…i would tell him to put his efforts making new companies that solving problems in our country. how bout investing money into new electric vehicle and battery companies? or investing in companies that can produce high speed rail efficiently and cost effectively? small and medium sized cities need jobs that can last and our country can show that there’s infrastructure to keep building a robust and productive economy…not one that just uses and consumes resources. what happened with skybus? people got a cheap thrill to fly for cheap.… Read more »
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[…] fair amount of skepticism out there about JetAmerica, and it’s particularly well-expressed on The Cranky Flier blog. Whether it will survive long enough to get to Hartford, whatever it means by that, remains to be […]

RoyBoy
Guest

Brett…that picture is GREAT! How appropriate!

seastu
Guest

Cranky, you crack me up! This airline is a laughingstock and the pic of the 737-900ER on their ‘website’ is a hoot. I wonder how many out-of-work auto workers have bought tickets from Toledo to Lansing? Why would Alaska even waste the money filing a trademark protection lawsuit? These dumb rubes will be out of business by the time the ink is dry.

Nick Barnard
Member

Seastu – the only reason Alaska would sue is because if you don’t defend your trademarks you’re at risk of losing them. Now I can still see Alaska not suing as the trademark may not be worth much to them and JetAmerica won’t be sucessful.

Shane
Guest

Nicholas,

Independence Air was sued for trademark infringement when they coined their airplanes as iJets, which was a trademark used by iJet Intelligent Risk Systems, a non-aviation company. If that was deemed confusing and worthy of filing suit, then it would be a good bet that Alaska’s lawyers will make a call or two.

Adam
Guest

They were originally going to use an aircraft from Sun Country. Glad that Sun Country backed out.

This guy must like to lose money!

askmrlee
Guest

The press release IS such a joke. Their so called “PR firm” couldn’t afford their own domain name, so they are using a comcast.net email address. Looks like it is run by someone out of their house.

http://www.jetamerica.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/jetamerica-news-release-final.pdf

Jay
Guest
“By throwing his nutty idea into the ring…enough people will fly his nutty airline only to detract from the revenues needed at the reputable airlines. What is a “reputable airline” exactly? Who gets to determine this? “i think if weikle had the itching bug to produce start up companies…i would tell him to put his efforts making new companies that solving problems in our country. how bout investing money into new electric vehicle and battery companies? or investing in companies that can produce high speed rail efficiently and cost effectively? ” Probably the same reason why every other investor deosn’t… Read more »
Ron
Guest
Am I the only person who thinks this idea makes sense? You have a bunch of airports with excess capacity and little demand, and taxpayers around these airports are eager to see this capacity utilized, so they use their tax dollars to bump up demand. For a metro area the size of Toledo, approximately 700,000 people, the $600,000 subsidy comes out just shy of $1 per person per year, which is a small price to pay for the pride and joy of an almost-daily flight to Newark. And since this money is to be had, it just makes sense that… Read more »
fliesfreq
Guest
They laughed at RyanAir’s business plan with cheap seats and charges for everything other than your non-assigned seat. Who’s laughing now with RyanAir the most profitable airlines in the world and still charging for everything and no telephone number to call with complaints — certainly not RyanAir’s investors and the millions flying RyanAir. When you pay pilots $300,000 a year with all of the out of work pilots out there, you gotta expect someone might figure out a way to do it profitably. And, for the record, Weikle left Skybus shortly after it started flying because of his concern thet… Read more »
John
Guest
I agree with fliesfreq on Skybus management (which I experienced and worked with firsthand). However, while I also agree that the RyanAir model works, you must cite that it works IN EUROPE. The American traveling public demand a lot more that the self-sufficient airlines of RyanAir and Skybus provide. We complain about losing disgusting recycled free pillows and blankets – how can we cope with no call center at Skybus? I definitely think that we’re moving in that direction and breaking the travelers of certain expectations they have (look at meals), but we’re not there yet. When the majority of… Read more »
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[…] and Newark are the biggest destinations, but the operations are run through Toledo. Cranky has the rundown. Who wants to start the bankruptcy countdown pool? Categorized in: travel SHARETHIS.addEntry({ […]

Blaggo
Guest
Will this work, probably not; I’d say the over-under is 345 days in operation. But look at it on paper… You have Delta and Northwest now one and a massive Delta/NWA hub in Detroit. There are over 5 million people in a 75 mile radius of Toledo (this includes Detroit and northwest Ohio) and around 8 (what used to be) fortune 500 companies in Toledo alone. Most everyone flies out of Detroit because of direct flights. While Toledo is great to fly out of, JetAmerica won’t be able to offer enough direct flights to the places people need and won’t… Read more »
Blaggo
Guest

I almost forgot to mention that I read somewhere that they sold 10,000 tickets in the first 36 hours and it crashed their website with all of the traffic. While this is nice, it won’t last and I’d say within a few months it will do about as well as a Porsche dealer in Rawanda.

Happy Flyer
Guest
Perhaps instead of posting false information to get yourself attention…you would be interested in this from Alaska Airlines. Q. I saw in the news that a new airline is starting up with the name of JetAmerica. True, there’s no space between the two words, but it seems too similar to the name of the airline Alaska bought years ago, Jet America. Question: Did we sell the airline’s name? Or is this not that big of a deal for Alaska? A. The name Jet America has a storied place in the history of Alaska Airlines. The original Jet America airlines was… Read more »
Diane
Guest
Where is everyone’s enterpernural spirit -we don’t always need to bow down to the big guys – DL, UA, AA – who says they are doing it right – they are always loosing money. Congratulations for airports supporting a new business – be nice if citizens will do the same thing. You all probably think we should continue to bail out GM because you know their brand. Competition makes companies and our economy stronger, creates jobs, revenue for cities. More than any stimulus pkg I have seen lately. Give them a chance. People laughed ad Southwest when they started as… Read more »
US Travel
Guest

It is a charter airline using Miami Air to fly their planes. I would hardly call Miami air “experienced” or professional. If your life is worth $9, have at it!

Blaggo
Guest

I’d love it to make it since I live here in Toledo, I’m just trying to not get my hopes up because it has happened that an airline will pull out and go 40 miles up the road to DTW. Well, US Travel, you forgot to add all of the taxes and baggage fees so I’d say the price of my life would be $79.95.

JetJournalist
Guest
JETAMERICA I am a freelance journalist for several well-known travel publications. Get this. I contacted the public relations guy for JetAmerica, whose online resume shows he’s worked with Virgin Atlantic and JetBlue. Obviously a heavy hitter. I asked to interview a JetAmerica spokesperson for one of my client magazines. I got an e-mail back that says, “At this time JetAmerica has been flooded with media interview requests and cannot accomidate your inquiry until June 15, 2009. Please contact us then. We regret any inconvenience this may cause.” So, I had my editor, from a highly impressive magazine, send the PR… Read more »
JetAmericaNews
Guest

From:
Bryan Glazer
JetAmerica Communications
News@JetAmerica.com

RE: JetJournalist’s Comments.

To clarify, the comments above are incorrect. JetJournalist was told that JetAmerica could not be able to accomidate his request for a lengthy interview with the Chief Exectuive Officer until June 15, 2009.

JetJournalist was offered an opportunity to speak with the Chief Operating Officer.

Good times are over “JJ.” Dyno-mite.

JetAmerica is committed to providing journalists with all the information they request to develop accurate, fair and balanced stories. Sometimes, we can not always afford access to our top executives, especially while JetAmerica is coordinating the various aspects of launching our first flights.

Thank you

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[…] at The Cranky Flier, Brett Snyder isn’t optimistic. “I honestly couldn’t make this sound any worse if […]

Btron
Guest

JetJournalist wrote:

“At this time JetAmerica has been flooded with media interview requests and cannot accomidate your inquiry until June 15, 2009. Please contact us then. We regret any inconvenience this may cause.”

Did they seriously write “accomidate”?

vicky
Guest

Finally they did,but they have added more in the recent past very aggressively.

kelton
Guest

the website is down looks like they failed

trackback

[…] love for this installment of Vintage Airline Seat Maps. Not to be confused with the Jet America that planned to begin service in 2009, but never got off the ground, Jet America Airlines was a Long Beach, California-based […]

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