It’s been awhile since we talked about Vision Airlines here, but there has been plenty going on with the carrier as it desperately searches for a strategy that works. For the most part, it’s been bad news as effort after effort has failed. But now, it’s time to try something new for the airline. Anyone for Myrtle Beach?
Vision’s first plan was flying between Atlanta and Louisville. That didn’t work.
After that was announced, Vision’s big plan was for a hub in Destin, Florida. The airline threw a ton of flights at Destin, hoping that something would stick. None of them did as point-to-point markets so Vision tried allowing people to connect. That didn’t work either. There is nothing on the schedule for this summer to Destin at all. I wonder if the airport is still owed a bunch of money?
Vision also had a brief jaunt into Grand Bahama Island with sponsored flights but those don’t seem to have lasted long. Maybe they’ll come back next winter? (Update: No, they won’t. Thanks to Dan Webb for the link showing that Bahamasair got the contract.)
So, now what? Ever since Direct Air failed in March, there has been “opportunity” in former Direct Air markets. I put that in quotes, because with fuel prices as high as they are, I’m not sure how much opportunity is actually there. But hey, Vision is going to give it the old college try.
The plan, according to the latest posted schedule on the website, is to fly from Myrtle Beach to Cincinnati, Clarksburg (WV), Cleveland, Columbus/Rickenbacker (OH), Indianapolis, Louisville, Nashville, Springfield (IL), and Toledo (OH) from May 31 through October 31. Each market will see two flights per week at various times throughout the day.
So is this one going to work? To the surprise of nobody, I’m skeptical. Direct Air had survived for years flying routes like these, but even it couldn’t keep chugging along. Fuel prices keep going higher, and these are definitely not high fare business travel routes. This is all leisure, and it’s not expensive leisure either. But there is definitely outside money going into this, so Vision might find a way to make it profitable. If so, then someone else will just fund the loss.
While I don’t know if Myrtle Beach is subsidizing this service, it wouldn’t surprise me. The airport director did note in the press release that he was excited to “partner” with Vision. We also do know that subsidies are on the table from other cities. Springfield, for example, will subsidize the flights if they don’t reach a certain passenger number threshold.
Possibly the most telling of all here is the stunning announcement from Rockford that it wouldn’t offer subsidies to Vision so it won’t be getting a Myrtle Beach flight. That is a big deal, since Rockford will subsidize anyone on earth. I mean, this is the airport that’s willing to subsidize flights from Rockford to London and Honolulu, yet it thinks that Myrtle Beach is not “a good destination for us at this time.” Seriously?!
Vision is certainly trying to be opportunistic here by going in and out of markets when it thinks it can make a buck, but it definitely concerns me to see an airline making so many drastic changes in its route system relatively frequently. Travelers start to get wary when there’s no consistency and that can be bad for business. Maybe this one will stick, however, and Vision will have finally found the niche it has been so desperately searching for. The again, maybe not.