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News Article - January 9, 2008

SKYBUS BEGINS WILMINGTON SERVICE  
  It almost sounds too good to be true: 10 seats for $10 on each flight. The catch: You have to fly to Columbus, Ohio, or Greensboro, N.C.

  The super low-fare passenger carrier Skybus Airlines, hoping to buck the trend of failed airlines at New Castle Airport, announced today that beginning March 7, the company will fly two flights a day to Greensboro and one to Columbus. Skybus’ arrival means the First State no longer will be the only state without regularly scheduled passenger air service. New Castle Airport has been absent commercial service since September when Delta, like United Airlines, Shuttle America and Crown Airlines before it, called it quits.

   “This is affordable travel that hopefully will be a good match for what we’re looking for,” said Stephen Williams, airports director for the Delaware River & Bay Authority, which operates New Castle Airport. “We’re hopeful the service will do well. We believe very much that New Castle Airport has a great location to serve this region, sitting pretty much on I-95.” Skybus and New Castle Airport want to pull business from the chronically congested and delayed Philadelphia International Airport, as the Federal Aviation Administration spends upwards of $100 million for runway expansion and a redesign of the airspace in the Northeast corridor, trying to eke out extra capacity.

   Tickets out of New Castle Airport went on sale at 6 a.m. today, and as of noon, the $10 seats still remained for seven days in March and much of April. Once the $10 seats are sold out, the ticket price bumps to $25, then $50, $75, $100 or more. On average, tickets are at least 50 percent cheaper than competitors’ prices, said Skybus spokesman Bob Tenenbaum. The airline, which began operating out of its Columbus, Ohio, base last May, is able to offer extremely discounted prices because it uses an “a-la-carte” business model new to the United States, Tenenbaum said.

   Passengers pay extra for checked baggage, beverages, and priority seating. All booking, check-in and customer service is conducted via the Skybus website, which says it offers no 800-number for customers to call. The airline also advertises on its fleet, which as of next week will include nine 150-seat full-sized jets, and is growing by about a plane per month, Tenenbaum said.

   Currently most flights originate or land at the company’s bases in Columbus or Greensboro, and no connecting flights are offered. However, travelers could retrieve their bags and then check in to another Skybus flight to a final destination other than Columbus or Greensboro.

Source - Deleware Online



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