JetAmerica is Gone . . . For Now

Jet America

I have to admit that I wasn’t even sure if it was worth covering the demise of JetAmerica since I had no real insight to add, but I’ve had so much fun with it so far, I figured, well, what the heck. JetAmerica’s route map was so goofy that most of the people in the US couldn’t care less, JetAmerica Diesbut for the few who did care, you’ll be sad to know that JetAmerica is officially toast . . . for now.

Once again, it came down to slots. JetAmerica couldn’t get any at Newark, and there were rumors that the FAA was about to drop the hammer on the airline. See, you’re not supposed to sell tickets if you don’t actually have slots. Oops. So maybe JetAmerica finally saw the writing on the wall and decided to call it quits or maybe the FAA made the decision for them. Either way, in what should be a surprise to nobody, they’re not even going to get started.

If you had booked tickets on the airline, you’ll get your money back. If you’re an airport and you gave them funds already, well, good luck. I hope nobody spent too much on these guys.

So is this the last we’ve heard of them? They seem to think otherwise. This statement appears on the JetAmerica website:

. . . we have decided to suspend our operations in order to refocus on different markets. We still strongly believe that there is an unmet need for affordable air service to secondary markets and we look forward to offering this option again in the near future.

Oh please no. Just let it die. I can’t imagine any airport wanting to work with them again. Maybe they’ll pop up in some other form some day, but I think they’ve spent all their goodwill by now. If different markets were they answer, they should have started that way. They’ve now had 3 strikes (Air Azul failed to start, one month delay in JetAmerica service, and now the ultimate demise), and as far as I’m concerned, they’re out.

In a way, I feel bad for founder John Weikle. He seems like a complete and total optimist who wants to bring service to small communities. It’s an admirable goal, but so far I’ve yet to see a model come even close to working that can serve that purpose. John has done a remarkable job of finding investors for his ventures, but I just can’t imagine that he’ll be so lucky again.

Nothing to see here. Keep moving.

[Original image: / CC BY-SA 2.0]

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29 comments on “JetAmerica is Gone . . . For Now

  1. At least they changed their website. Even after they sent out their press release and it was reported by AP and USA Today, their website didn’t say a thing about it. You would have thought the second they made their annoucement, the next second would have been the website change. Seems they couldn’t do that right either.

    It may be hard for them to try again, but now it makes it harder for other new airlines that may wish to start service somewhere. People will remember what JetAmerica did (or didn’t do) and make it harder for others who may have a solid plan and backing to get started.

  2. I knew it. I hope that Mr. Weikle takes these developments to get a clue and move on. Startup airlines won’t work right now in this economy.

  3. The really sad part is that the plan was so bad to begin with, and the execution so laughable, that there’s not even anything to learn from this. It certainly hurts Weikle’s chances of going again, and probably won’t be of much help to others who are trying to raise money for similar ventures, but all in all this elicits just a bewildered shrug. Cranky says it well – nothing at all to see here.

  4. Heh. I am kind of surprised you are so calm after JetAmerica saying,

    “People should not be so quick to jump to negative conclusions about JetAmerica. I am particularly referring to internet bloggers and naysayers who are predicting the worst.”

    …which I feel is pretty well directed at you and Jaunted. Not that I am trying to cause drama :)

  5. I’m still waiting for Crystal Air and Air Portland/The Coast to start. And the airlines that Beauvais was trying to start, one in Pittsburgh and one in Utica/Syracuse.

    Oh, and Jambayla Airlines, because, evidently, New Orleans is a great place to start a hub.

    Don’t EVEN get me started on Family Airlines and their 747 service, just cost you $5000 to work there…

    I swear, the airline business is like Amway sometimes.

  6. Toledo spent $119,000 trying to promote the flights to Newark that these bozo’s were planning on operating. You can click on my name to learn more.

    How the hell do you try to start an airline without making sure that you can actually fly to the airport that you want the majority of your flights to go to?

  7. If you want a big laugh, check Ben’s blog in McPaper which has some juicy quotes from (the Melbourne) Florida Today:

    It seems Jet-no-more-ica may still be planning a comeback, with MLB as its new focus city. Isn’t that near Cocoa Beach? At least it will be convenient for those visiting Jeannie and Major Nelson, although I imagine some future stranded fliers may exclaim “blink me out of here, Jeannie!”

    But wait, there’s more!

    Company chairman Steve Schoen (what happened to Weikle?) mentioned Newark would be replaced by another tri-state airport, such as White Plains.

    ROFLMAO…White Plains?! They had no clue about slots at EWR. With HPN it’s not only slots, but NIMBYs too!

    Closed circuit for Schoen: why don’t you try for Floyd Bennett Field?

  8. David Parker Brown – Why wouldn’t I be calm? I was right and they weren’t. No need to rub it in when they’ve done it very well themselves.

    Yo – I’m sorry but I have to correct a very serious mistake. It’s Air Gumbo, not Jambalaya. The funniest thing about this one is that they continue to pay for the domain name after all these years. I just don’t understand why.

    Joe – Thanks for the link. I’ve been reading the Blade’s good coverage here, but I missed that figure. It’s very sad that all that money is down the drain.

    oldiesfan – Well, until Alitalia goes back to making headline again, I suppose I should encourage ridiculous plans like these to keep feeding the blog.

  9. Gumbo, jambalaya, its all the same..Air Muffalafeta!

    The Utica/Syracuse got reanamed Northern Airlines after many changes, but it, of course never went anywhere.

    Remember Great Plains and Access Air? What great ideas, same same for JetTrain and RootsAir.

  10. it’s a shame that they didn’t execute well, especially as there constantly seems to be fewer choices when it comes flying. Hopefully, new upstart airlines will avoid the same mistakes.

  11. Yo – Ah yes. Access Air flying 737-200s out of Des Moines to the coasts and Great Plains, well, they kind of moved around a lot. They had Dornier 328JETs, right? I seem to remember Tulsa.

  12. And of course Western Pacific, Rio Grande Air, and Western Air (short lived, flew the “river run” across Nebraska using Pilatus PC-12’s).

    Shuttle America (original) seemed like a great idea using Dash 8-300s up and down the East Coast… would have been great if Republic had kept them around (the Dash 8s)

  13. Also for weird startup ideas don’t forget Primaris Airlines, which made a big 787 order they had to cancel a few months later when they didn’t have money for deposits. They did fly a 757 around for a while I think. Also there was some airline called Blackstar Airlines which has had a website up for ages…but I don’t know much about them. Other failed small carriers…National Airlines (the Las Vegas based one) and Pro Air, which was shut down by the FAA. Man…once you start thinking about it it’s easy to go on and on with airlines that have bit the dust. Gotta love this industry!

  14. Chuck – Ah yes. Primaris did operate the 757 as charter or wet lease, I believe. They folded up shop when oil when sky high, IIRC. I don’t recall Blackstar at all, but National and ProAir I remember very well. ProAir was flying 737s out of Detroit City – where the runways were so short that they always had load restrictions. I remember seeing them at BWI when I was in school in DC.

  15. I thought Primaris Airlines had some promise. It seemed to be a wonderful idea to have an all business class airline with high class service, much like the P.S. service of United. Oh well…it’s a tough world out there.

  16. Oh the Primaris model was a home run! Business class service to a low yeild, price sensative market like LAS. Epic geniuses i tell ya lol.

    Now while we have all been watching the JetNowheremerica clown show, a public charter is getting its ducks in a row down in MSY. They are going to operate 2-3x a week charters to central america from NOLA and on a very limited basis from FLL.

  17. Blackstar still hasn’t started flying yet…it’s an proposed airline along the lines of Crystal Airways, I believe. (We all know how well that turned out.) Time will tell.

    I worked for National and I feel they had a fairly good product, but the whole business model they used was based on cheap oil. Also, I think the planes they got (757’s) were too big for the routes they flew…although they did have very nice takeoff performance when it was summertime in LAS.

  18. National had a good product, but bad management. They spent like drunken sailors when they started up. They had so much capital for startup, but damn, they blew money like it was going out of style. Lots of perks for the Sr. Management. Problem was, they never had enough markets out of LAS to make any money. New York, Chicago and Miami are great, but LAX, SFO were too close, too many competitors, etc.

    West Pac, had the Beauvais family, nuff’ said. I’m sure they all made out nicely money wise. But, who the hell would hub an airline at COS? When the DEN moves came out, the sand was out in the hourglass.

    Onedia Air was the one that got kicked around forever, changed to Northern Airlines, but never saw the light of day. Then there was Vanguard, which had such decrepit planes, I was amazed they even flew, same with Pan Am (2) and their antique A300’s.

  19. I’m trying to understand this Air America situation, but I’m not nearly as in tune as you all are. I’m hoping that you can help with any of these questions below based on these quotes. I have a few questions at the end. I hope you can answer any of them.

    On July 2, JetAmerica’s Vice President of Operations Brian Burling said: “In February 2009, the Federal Aviation Administration advised us, through an intermediary, that our operations at Newark could be accommodated.”

    The FAA’s change in the slot policy for indirect air carriers is beyond our control. We are working hard to obtain all the slots we need as soon as possible.

    Jet America Chief Executive Officer John Weikle said that they just found out about this on May 30. And they were trying to get slots for July and August.

    The airline reported that it would have had to pay $450,000 for the slots at Newark. How could they expect to get this money, considering that it was such a small operation?

    In speaking only about Newark:
    1. Did the FAA change in the slot policy for indirect air carriers, like Jet America says? Opinions?
    2. Or did they single Jet America out?
    3. If they singled Jet America out, is it because they sold so many tickets so quickly?
    4. Was it realistic that Jet America would obtain slots for its daily flights by August 14?
    5. Looking at the quote from Burling, who could the “intermediary” be? Wouldn’t the FAA communicate directly with an airline?
    6. Could they get the slots without having to pay $450,000?

    I really hope you guys can help me understand any of this.

  20. Tony – I’m happy to answer the questions

    1. No, they didn’t. This policy has been in place at least since last year. You can read the rules here.

    2. Nope. There may have been a miscommunication or something like that, but the rules are very clearly stated and this doesn’t single them out.

    3. Why would they single an airline out for selling so many tickets? (First of all, they didn’t sell that many tickets.) That rationale just never made sense to me.

    4. Apparently not. But airlines aren’t supposed to sell tickets until they’ve obtained slots, so it was a big mistake for them to even start.

    5. Who knows? When this airline was getting started, it was pretty lean so maybe JetAmerica contracted with someone to handle the govt communication side of things.

    6. I’m not entirely clear on this one. It looks like they don’t need to get slots from the same pool of slots as the scheduled carriers but rather they needed to get “reservations” from the charter and unscheduled carrier side of things. If they couldn’t get those, they could apparently look toward scheduled slots, and at that point, they have to pay what the market can bear.

  21. Damn. I knew it was too good to be true. I live in Melbourne, FL (one of the few airports they were going to use) and go to school in New York, so this airline was going to be perfect for me especially with those “$9 seats”. Once again, if it looks too good to be true…it probably is.

  22. Steve – I don’t know about employees or contractors, but passengers should have all been reimbursed. Scheduled charters don’t get to keep the money until the flight is flown. So until then it just sits in an account untouched. Everyone should have gotten their money back.

  23. Steve – CF
    We were one of those that purchased tickets for a family vacation. Can’t afford 4 airline tickets normally. $9 tickets ($25 after fees) would have been great. To answer the question if all passengers have been reimbursed. We received an e-mail saying that all reimbursements were done and if we haven’t gotten it to contact our credit card co. Well we haven’t gotten it. So we are in contact with them. They are filing a dispute so hopefully we will get our money back soon.

    We have learned and won’t do this type of thing again!

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