JetAmerica is Born, Bringing $9 Domestic Flights

by  Elissa Garay | May 29, 2009
Plane in sky
Plane in sky / AlexeyPetrov/iStock

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A sagging economy and struggling airline industry make rather unlikely parents to a new airline, but the folks over at JetAmerica are ready to put their baby on the market all the same. The new low-cost, Clearwater, Florida-based carrier is slated to launch services on July 13, with rock-bottom fares from just $9 offered on each and every flight. Set to target six mid-sized U.S. cities that it believes other larger carriers have overlooked, several conveniently offer easy access to major metropolitan areas, to boot. Look for JetAmerica to touch down in a city near you: Newark, NJ (New York City); Melbourne, FL (Orlando); Toledo, OH (Detroit); Minneapolis, MN; South Bend, IN; and Lansing, MI are currently on the bargain airline's roster.

JetAmerica will offer 34 nonstop flights per week on 189-seat Boeing 737-800s, with the bulk of the routes operating into and out of Newark Liberty International Airport. Half a dozen routes between Toledo and Minneapolis will kick off on August 14.

JetAmerica is basing its model for success on going after airports that it sees as underserviced. Case in point: Lansing’s Capital Region International Airport has had nearly two-thirds of its daily flight operations shaved off in the last five years. Enter the old theory of supply and demand, and fares at such airports have accordingly shot through the roof. 

As such, fares priced from $9 each way will provide a welcomed respite for these markets, with these lowest fares available on the first nine to 19 seats of each plane. From there one-way fares shoot up some, with most falling in the range of $69 to $79, while none will be priced higher than $199. If this pricing and marketing scheme sounds familiar, it’s no coincidence: JetAmerica comes to us from the same founder – John Weikle – of Ohio-based carrier, Skybus, which operated for about 10 months before going belly up last spring. The carrier also targeted lesser-served markets with fares from $10 each-way, but found itself struggling for survival in the face of spiked jet fuel costs last year. Hopefully with lessons learned and stabilized fuel costs, JetAmerica will have a fighting chance.

Like most other domestic airlines, “extras” like checked bags, beverages, and food service will be available at an additional cost. Tickets went on sale on Wednesday – and fares for their first week of operations have reportedly already sold out.

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