Thursday, May 24, 2007

A People Express for the 21st Century?

A new airline in the People Express tradition, Skybus, has recently launched and is creating a great deal of buzz in the airline industry. The airline took about a decade to go from conception to reality, but it could really be worth the effort in the current flying environment we live in today.

Thanks to the high cost of jet fuel, the shrinking of the airline industry, and other challenges, flying has become very expensive again and people are looking for an opportunity to fly on an affordable airline. Skybus intends to solve this problem with some innovative approaches:

* They sell several $10 tickets per flight, making it very interesting to potential customers. The "viral marketing" effect of such a program will go far to attract customers.

* Forget about a little revenue from in-flight magazines and product placement, this airline is selling every inch of the plane -- inside and out -- to advertisers. The outside of the plane (photo, above) itself will display a massive advertisement (see photo, with Nationwide insurance) and it appears that large parts of the internal part of the plane will be plastered with ads (at $500,000 a year). This will create lower costs for the airline that are being passed on to consumers.
* With a hub like Columbus, Ohio, low cost is obviously a serious consideration.
* The airline intends to be the cheapest airline in the industry. Period. This includes being 25 percent cheaper than Southwest Airlines, which is famous for affordable flying.
* Customers will have to pay for virtually every service on the plane -- baggage checks, food, etc. Furthermore, you will be able to even buy products on the plane.
I think there is room for a really cheap airline like Skybus and I intend to watch, with interest, how it progresses.

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