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Why Did Skybus Fail?  
User currently offlinedoulasc From United States of America, joined Dec 2011, 534 posts, RR: 0
Posted (2 years 4 months 1 day 12 hours ago) and read 16643 times:

Skybus lasted only about 11 months. My brother flew them from CMH-SAN and was satisfied with their service.
Do you think it was a matter of serving non traditional airports like St.Augustine(instead of DAB or JAX) for example.
Lack of customer service like a ticket counter. Could have been timing due to the economy not being good and escalating oil prices. What I though was odd that passengers boarded through a gate not with a jetway(at the major airports like CMH or FLL) but up roll up stairs.

72 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineBMI727 From United States of America, joined Feb 2009, 15744 posts, RR: 27
Reply 1, posted (2 years 4 months 1 day 12 hours ago) and read 16643 times:

Quoting doulasc (Thread starter):
Why Did Skybus Fail?

Because it was a dumb idea. Say what you will about the economy or oil prices, there is still the fact that there just aren't that many people who want to go to Columbus.



Why do Aerospace Engineering students have to turn things in on time?
User currently offlinejonathanxxxx From United States of America, joined Feb 2011, 673 posts, RR: 1
Reply 2, posted (2 years 4 months 1 day 12 hours ago) and read 16577 times:

Quoting BMI727 (Reply 1):

Exactly. They had no O&D draw. You can only do that kind of model if you sell connections, unless you're Ryanair or easyjet..


User currently offlineEnilria From Canada, joined Feb 2008, 7191 posts, RR: 13
Reply 3, posted (2 years 4 months 1 day 12 hours ago) and read 16332 times:

Hub in Columbus and no connections allowed. It's that simple.

User currently offlineCairnterriAIR From United States of America, joined Jun 2008, 404 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (2 years 4 months 1 day 11 hours ago) and read 16325 times:

The small airport routes were fine...the flights out of Springfield Mass were well patronized. What killed them was the inability for passengers to make connections and routes that made no sense whatsoever. The idea is fine on popular point to point routes such as New England to Florida, but the whole idea of the Columbus re-check in, re-load bags just to fly between Columbus and some other backwoods town...it didn't fly. In addition, their fare structure gave them absolutely no profit margin whatsoever. The lowest level fares would go quickly, but by the time the last few seats were available, the fares were more expensive than the traditional airlines on nearby routes. The high fares went unsold. Perhaps if their fare structure was slightly lower than the airlines operating out of the big airports, people would have traveled due to the convenience of flying out of a local station. Skybus undercut themselves when they should not have been doing so.

User currently onlineMaverickM11 From United States of America, joined Apr 2000, 17505 posts, RR: 45
Reply 5, posted (2 years 4 months 1 day 11 hours ago) and read 16292 times:

Quoting BMI727 (Reply 1):
Because it was a dumb idea

It was actually a pretty solid plan--in fact it was pretty much identical to the plan NK was developing at the same time. The big difference was NK flew to places people wanted to go, whereas SX took the FR approach of flying to secondary airports to the absolute, farcical extent of literally flying to East Upchuck, from a hub (CMH) that could never provide the volume.



E pur si muove -Galileo
User currently offlinejetblueguy22 From United States of America, joined Nov 2007, 2798 posts, RR: 4
Reply 6, posted (2 years 4 months 1 day 11 hours ago) and read 16152 times:
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I feel like on here Skybus was treated as a joke. But the basic model works in Europe, why not in the US? I feel like allow people to connect would have helped tremendously though. Not many people want to fly to Columbus. But even if you were not going to offer connections offer more point to point flights, don't just make them all go to one hub. Plus a common belief in the US seems to be no matter what you pay for a ticket you deserve first class treatment which Skybus just did not offer. I would have flown them if they went where I needed to be.
Blue



You push down on that yoke, the houses get bigger, you pull back on the yoke, the houses get bigger- Ken Foltz
User currently offlinePITingres From United States of America, joined Dec 2007, 1144 posts, RR: 13
Reply 7, posted (2 years 4 months 1 day 7 hours ago) and read 15494 times:

Quoting jetblueguy22 (Reply 6):
But the basic model works in Europe, why not in the US?

I don't pretend to know for sure, but I suspect that "because the US is a lot bigger" is a good part of it. The rest of the answer is probably something like "because Columbus isn't a good substitute for Stansted". One has to wonder whether Skybus would have done better to center somewhere in New Jersey. (Except that there's no plausible airport in NJ to use other than EWR which is a recipe for disaster.)



Fly, you fools! Fly!
User currently offlinevegetables2001 From UK - England, joined Mar 2012, 93 posts, RR: 0
Reply 8, posted (2 years 4 months 1 day 7 hours ago) and read 15298 times:

One day all airlines will be like Skybus.

Apart from the Columbus bit of course.



A306,319,333 ATR72 BAC113/5, B703/704,717,721,732/3/4/5/7/8,741/1/4,757,763,773/E, DC8-6,9-3/5,10-30, DC106
User currently offlineusflyer msp From United States of America, joined May 2000, 2124 posts, RR: 0
Reply 9, posted (2 years 4 months 1 day 6 hours ago) and read 15246 times:

Quoting jetblueguy22 (Reply 6):
But the basic model works in Europe, why not in the US?

Europe has much better ground transport links to its secondary airports than the US does. On Skybus the transfers into the city often cost more than the ticket.


User currently offlinejimbobjoe From United States of America, joined Oct 2001, 655 posts, RR: 0
Reply 10, posted (2 years 4 months 1 day 5 hours ago) and read 14648 times:

A friend of mine got to attend a lecture by the founder of Skybus. So this is the founder's post-mortem analysis.

Almost everything was going to plan. Passenger numbers, fares paid, and ancillary fees paid were either meeting projections or exceeding them. (Columbus was not a problem (for the service offered), moreover, Skybus had started to serve other city pairs that didn't include Columbus.)

The first problem was oil prices.

Summer 08 oil prices hit nearly $150/barrel, and Skybus' business plan didn't foresee anything higher than $85-90 (I think.)

The second problem was the credit crunch.

Skybus started out with quite a lot of cash in the bank (I want to say $200 million) but those oil prices were just merciless and they lasted too long. Their reserves were drained too quickly.

They would have survived had they had had an extra $10-$15 million. Under normal circumstances that would have been easy to get, but the credit crunch made it extremely difficult. Credit lines were locked.

Interestingly Skybus paid back every creditor to the penny. In my mind that suggests that Skybus could have lasted longer without an extra cash injection. However, I suspect the founders want(ed) another crack at starting a Skybus like airline, so in order to keep a good reputation, they closed down early to pay everyone their debts.

In fact the founder has a plan for putting together a Skybus-like airline, but from Dayton instead. I suspect he's looking at all that juicy Cincinnati fares and wanting a cut of that action.

At any rate, it came down to luck/timing, and my suspicion is that we'll see another Skybus at some point in the future.


User currently onlinePe@rson From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2001, 19230 posts, RR: 52
Reply 11, posted (2 years 4 months 1 day 4 hours ago) and read 14600 times:

Quoting usflyer msp (Reply 9):
the transfers into the city often cost more than the ticket.

In Europe, coach (or minibus) companies pretty quickly establish routes to the nearest big city (or various places). Depending upon the airport's throughput, such services may be timed for specific flights (so wait if they're delayed) or operate a normal, regular schedule.

It's interesting that this airport access seems such an issue in a country renowned for massive car ownership and use.

Quoting jimbobjoe (Reply 10):
A friend of mine got to attend a lecture by the founder of Skybus.

Not the founder, but I attended a lecture by SkyBus' former VP of Strategy. He insisted that SWF has considerable opportunity for such a concept.

[Edited 2012-05-21 01:57:40]


"Everyone writing for the Telegraph knows that the way to grab eyeballs is with Ryanair and/or sex."
User currently offlinescouseflyer From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2006, 3390 posts, RR: 9
Reply 12, posted (2 years 4 months 1 day 4 hours ago) and read 14394 times:

Quoting PITingres (Reply 7):
Quoting jetblueguy22 (Reply 6):
But the basic model works in Europe, why not in the US?

I don't pretend to know for sure, but I suspect that "because the US is a lot bigger" is a good part of it. The rest of the answer is probably something like "because Columbus isn't a good substitute for Stansted". One has to wonder whether Skybus would have done better to center somewhere in New Jersey. (Except that there's no plausible airport in NJ to use other than EWR which is a recipe for disaster.)

I wonder if it's also because the US aviation sector is far more mature than Europe i.e. the public is used to flying anywhere long distance whilst I have plenty of friends whose starting point for a holiday if where they can get cheaply on Ryanair. I think that in the US there's a lot more of what we'd call regular travel that's by plane and the inconveniences that the skybus model introduced meant it didn't do so well.

Shame I liked their cheerful yellow livery


User currently offlineSinlock From United States of America, joined Dec 2000, 1647 posts, RR: 2
Reply 13, posted (2 years 4 months 1 day ago) and read 12114 times:

Quoting doulasc (Thread starter):
What I though was odd that passengers boarded through a gate not with a jetway(at the major airports like CMH or FLL) but up roll up stairs.

I can't speak for CMH but thats not how it was done at FLL. They had a roll up stair that was used for Aft boarding but I only saw it used a handful of times in the first few weeks of operations. But the jetway at E8 was always used same with E6 when there was two flights on the ground. Their ramp operation was odd in that it was very over-staffed, it was standard to have 7-9 agents working a flight.



My Country can beat up your Country....
User currently offlinejfklganyc From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 3479 posts, RR: 5
Reply 14, posted (2 years 4 months 23 hours ago) and read 11136 times:

I flew Stansted to Wroclaw on Ryan air.

I took a train from central London right to the airport.

When I came back to Stansted, I took a coach to LHR for my flight to the US.

Truth be told, Europe is smaller, more densely packed and far better mass transit/ground transit options even from secondary or tertiary airports. Europe is akin to the northeastern US. If I land at any airport from DCA up to PWM, I can likely get to any major city in between. There is a rail infastructure in place as well as bus options. And no major city is more than 2 hours away.

The biggest weakness of the United States is our reliance on the car and the plane because most of the country does not have a good rail network in place.

So take the Skybus idea at SWF or even HPN.

Is there any reason why both of those airports are not connected to a rail link which gets you into the city?
The train is a mere few miles away from HPN in several directions, there is absolutely no ground transport to get you there nor is it advertised.


So if you are selling cutrate tickets to these secondary airports and there is no quick and cheap link to the city...people rather fly into the main airport.


User currently offlineplanespotting From United States of America, joined Apr 2004, 3527 posts, RR: 5
Reply 15, posted (2 years 4 months 22 hours ago) and read 10813 times:

Quoting MaverickM11 (Reply 5):
It was actually a pretty solid plan--in fact it was pretty much identical to the plan NK was developing at the same time. The big difference was NK flew to places people wanted to go,

The last sentence seems like a glaring flaw, making what could have been "a pretty solid plan" into a huge joke.



Do you like movies about gladiators?
User currently onlineMaverickM11 From United States of America, joined Apr 2000, 17505 posts, RR: 45
Reply 16, posted (2 years 4 months 22 hours ago) and read 10368 times:

Quoting planespotting (Reply 15):

The last sentence seems like a glaring flaw, making what could have been "a pretty solid plan" into a huge joke.

Well yeah--NK is successful flying DFWORD for instance, whereas SX floundered flying CMH to Chico-freakin-pee.



E pur si muove -Galileo
User currently onlineBasilFawlty From Netherlands, joined Jun 2009, 1326 posts, RR: 1
Reply 17, posted (2 years 4 months 21 hours ago) and read 9360 times:

Because they were flying in the US. Americans are not willing to fly to cheaper secundary airports and to have very little customer service. Passengers in the US still believe in the 'customer is king' philosophy, that's why a company like Skybus will never work there, unlike in other parts of the world were you have airlines like Ryanair, Wizz Air, AirAsia, Tiger Airways etc... which are all very succesful.


'Every year donkeys and mules kill more people than plane crashes'
User currently offlinerichierich From United States of America, joined Nov 2000, 4262 posts, RR: 6
Reply 18, posted (2 years 4 months 20 hours ago) and read 9338 times:

Quoting Enilria (Reply 3):
Hub in Columbus and no connections allowed. It's that simple.

I completely agree. The reason they failed is CMH, CMH and CMH some more. Not offering connections was the icing on the cupcake.

As much as I hate to admit it, they were among the first to adapt to the pay-as-you-go model that has worked for Spirit and Allegiant. I won't go as far as to call them visionaries but they were ahead of their time when it came to the ULCC model. Perhaps being the ULCC trendsetter in this country, when most people were simply not used to it or ready for it, didn't help either. But more than anything their poor choice of routes (and "hub", as such) was what doomed them; those new Airbuses didn't pay for themselves!



None shall pass!!!!
User currently onlinePe@rson From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2001, 19230 posts, RR: 52
Reply 19, posted (2 years 4 months 20 hours ago) and read 9339 times:

Quoting BasilFawlty (Reply 17):
Passengers in the US still believe in the 'customer is king' philosophy, that's why a company like Skybus will never work there,

Yet NK is financially doing well despite its limited customer service and much unbundling, although it does serve many primary - yet congested - airports.



"Everyone writing for the Telegraph knows that the way to grab eyeballs is with Ryanair and/or sex."
User currently onlineairbazar From United States of America, joined Sep 2003, 8375 posts, RR: 10
Reply 20, posted (2 years 4 months 20 hours ago) and read 9240 times:

Quoting jetblueguy22 (Reply 6):
I feel like on here Skybus was treated as a joke. But the basic model works in Europe, why not in the US?

It's very simple: In Europe when you get to "East Upchuck" you can hop on a train/bus to take you to your final destination. In the US you can't. There's no concept of public transportation in this country outside of the largest metropolitan areas. There's a misconception in that FR flies to isolated airports in the middle of nowhere due to their less than honest advertising techinques but even FR doesn't fly to isolated airports like Skybus used to. SZG and OPO are anyting but small isolated airports and when you get there there's usually a bus or a train waiting for you, or at the very least a short taxi ride to a nearby bus/train station.


User currently offlineN766UA From United States of America, joined Jul 1999, 8269 posts, RR: 23
Reply 21, posted (2 years 4 months 20 hours ago) and read 9074 times:

The question to ask is not "why did skybus fail." The question you should be asking is "who's the ******** who thought skybus EVER had ANY chance of succeeding?"

Honestly, I mean, the airline didn't even allow through-checked luggage, thus making connecting practically impossible. At the same time, though, they didn't fly anywhere anyone would want to end up (Chicopee, Mass?!), thus making their O&D-only model insatiably ludicrously stupid and asinine. It was one of the worst conceived ideas in airline history and that it survived as long as it did is a miracle.



This Website Censors Me
User currently offlinerichierich From United States of America, joined Nov 2000, 4262 posts, RR: 6
Reply 22, posted (2 years 4 months 20 hours ago) and read 8897 times:

Quoting N766UA (Reply 21):
The question to ask is not "why did skybus fail." The question you should be asking is "who's the ******** who thought skybus EVER had ANY chance of succeeding?"

Honestly, I mean, the airline didn't even allow through-checked luggage, thus making connecting practically impossible. At the same time, though, they didn't fly anywhere anyone would want to end up (Chicopee, Mass?!), thus making their O&D-only model insatiably ludicrously stupid and asinine. It was one of the worst conceived ideas in airline history and that it survived as long as it did is a miracle.

Well.....please tell us how you REALLLLY feel!!



None shall pass!!!!
User currently onlinePe@rson From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2001, 19230 posts, RR: 52
Reply 23, posted (2 years 4 months 20 hours ago) and read 8637 times:

Quoting N766UA (Reply 21):
I mean, the airline didn't even allow through-checked luggage

A lot of LCCs outside the USA/Canada don't offer connections.

Quoting N766UA (Reply 21):
anywhere anyone would want to end up (Chicopee, Mass?!), thus making their O&D-only model insatiably ludicrously stupid and asinine.

Many LCCs serve alternative airports for big (or fairly big) cities - some 70+ miles away - and it frequently works, with demand stimulated through highly well promoted LOW, LOW, LOW FARES! The airline will benefit, of course, through zero or exceedingly low passenger and aircraft charges and likely other financial traffic volume-based incentive; quicker taxi times; and no or minimal delays. Bus companies then serve these airports either by meeting specific flights (ordinarily if the number of flights/day is low) or regularly on a pay-for basis.

What you have described - no connections and alternative airports - is absolutely nothing new in various parts of the world. The entire point of doing such cost-saving things is to offer lower average fares and thereby stimulate demand which will, in turn, lower costs...

[Edited 2012-05-21 10:50:08]


"Everyone writing for the Telegraph knows that the way to grab eyeballs is with Ryanair and/or sex."
User currently offlineplanespotting From United States of America, joined Apr 2004, 3527 posts, RR: 5
Reply 24, posted (2 years 4 months 19 hours ago) and read 8529 times:

Quoting Pe@rson (Reply 23):
What you have described - no connections and alternative airports - is absolutely nothing new in various parts of the world.

But in parts of the world that are logistically very different from the U.S. (as has been mentioned already in this thread).

Here, if you fly to an airport and have no one to pick you up and few public transportation options (so, in the outskirt/suburbs of any major city), you're going to have to either rent a car (pricey) or call a taxi (also pricey), thus negating a lot of the fare savings you're likely to achieve by flying to a convenient airport with major public transportation options (subway, commuter rail, city bus, etc.).



Do you like movies about gladiators?
25 Pe@rson : In the country with some of the highest car usage in the world?! If, say, PSM-CMH operated again, people from the Manchester/Boston/wherever areas co
26 B727FA : And we have a winner. At least nobody has proffered the insane logic that labor was too high for once.
27 airlinespotter : $20.00 one-way tickets?
28 Post contains images BMI727 : ...which by definition would make it not such a solid plan. It does, look at Spirit. I don't really buy that. Since the US has so much urban sprawl,
29 planespotting : I'm not talking about getting people to their origin airport. If you live somewhere (and obviously, have a car where you live), it's easy to get anyw
30 enilria : The only reason to put the thing in CMH would be to have it be a connecting hub which they did not allow. To have enough local traffic it needed to b
31 srbmod : Considering his first post-Skybus airline never even took to the air (JetAmerica), I don't give any future start-ups much hope. In today's climate, i
32 Post contains images BasilFawlty : Done by lots of other airlines in the world without going bankrupt. You can't compare Spirit with Skybus, Spirit flies to the major airports, offers
33 BMI727 : You said Americans are unwilling to use cheaper secondary airports while Southwest and others have disproved that. It didn't matter how cheap they of
34 N766UA : Haha sorry, I have a short fuse for companies with lousy business plans. Independence Air was another one. They get all their employees psyched up an
35 N766UA : Spirit is enormously niche, though, I think. They cater to those who really, really don't care who they fly on. If you want "a ticket," you fly Spiri
36 UALWN : But you can have both Spirit and Allegiant?
37 clickhappy : Spirit and Allegiant are nothing like Skybus. Every route Skybus flew was via CMH or GSO, which, while I am sure are nice places (never been to either
38 N766UA : Allegiant and Spirit are not the same kind of airline. Allegiant serves a limited numbers of leisure desinations from underserved markets (not "secon
39 lightsaber : IMHO, *some* connections should have been allowed. Perhaps not all, but at least do a more WN like model where the plane would hop a few airports to
40 vegetables2001 : No it's not Spirit, Allegient and Ryanair are the future. That's whether you like it or not that's about 95% of those who buy their own tickets. I ad
41 clickhappy : That is not true. BLI pulls mostly from YVR, which has plenty of service to LAS, LAX, PHX, etc etc. Not sure if there is currently a YVR-PSP route (t
42 F9animal : I have to respectfully disagree. Please don't take offense, because I value your opinion! I think it was a great idea. I just think the execution of
43 N766UA : God I hope you're wrong. I've flown Ryanair and, while I never flew spirit, I worked with their airplanes/crews more than a few times when I was a ra
44 clickhappy : We can agree to disagree. Most people taking a vacation are willing to drive to get to an airport, unless they can save money flying from elsewhere.
45 MaverickM11 : Perhaps, but airplanes are mobile assets, and the business plan behind them was probably one of the best of recent start-ups since B6. If they just m
46 BMI727 : That's a tallest midget award. That would be a different, and much better, business plan.
47 tdscanuck : The US is much bigger than Europe. Much much much bigger. I think Europeans sometimes forget that it's not just bigger, it's a *lot* bigger. Crossing
48 LOWS : Surely, OKC didn't have enough gates to support that kind of operation. Currently, they have 4 or so empty. I guess the new concourses weren't done w
49 BOStonsox : If you look at the FR model, the largest hubs (bases) are located near cities with high demand, like STN and HHN for London and Frankfurt. For Skybus
50 UALWN : Area of the contiguous US (lower 48 states): 8 million km2. Area of Europe (including Eastern Europe, since FR, for instance, have extensive operatio
51 Post contains images Pe@rson : That is indeed true. But even if it wasn't, and if the contiguous US was greater area-wise, it wouldn't really matter given the enormous amount of po
52 UALWN : Exactly. When FR started flying there, GRO (almost 60 mi away from where I live) had free parking. So clearly it was cost-effective to drive there vs
53 Pe@rson : Yep! 3m in 2011.
54 UALWN : And over 5m in 2008 and 2009, before FR removed a lot of flights after a disagreement over subsidies with the regional and local authorities. A new a
55 Post contains images Pe@rson : Very true. I am sure I can hear someone saying 'who cares about such backwater airports?'
56 tdscanuck : Yes, absolutely, if you're willing to splice any portion of the former USSR you can make "Europe" as big as you want. I did specifically say Western
57 Pe@rson : Quick comparison of average sector lengths (based on airline websites or CAPA or ANNA articles): Southwest: 679 miles. easyJet: 659 miles (converted
58 UALWN : Actually, the area of Europe minus Russia, Belarus and the Ukraine is still larger than that of the contiguous US... No, you did not: Well, WN's orig
59 maestrojjp : Man, all the rough talk about Columbus is unfortunate, though. I've been all over the continent and I feel that Columbus is one of the most underrated
60 AA94 : I must respectfully disagree. There are several secondary airports in the United States which are very successful because they have an effective infr
61 Post contains links tdscanuck : You selectively quoted the part immediately above this: You lost me there...the US is 9,826,675 sq.km. Europe minus Russia alone is 6,214,817. Even i
62 BOStonsox : It does, C&J to Boston. They even advertised it on each other's websites IIRC.
63 lexy : If he wants to start another airline, the first thing he needs to do is get OUT of the state of Ohio. I love Ohio, but it's not the most sought after
64 BOStonsox : DAY in theory would not be a bad place at all- it is linked to the interstate and is only 1:30 from Indianapolis, 1:00 from Columbus, and 0:45 from Ci
65 jimbobjoe : It has just occurred to me that the business model intended to avoid having its base in a large metro area for a reason. Here's one idea: the upside
66 richierich : This is nothing personal about Columbus. It's a fine city (despite OSU!) and CMH is a nice airport, albeit very under-used. But it is an odd choice f
67 UALWN : Well, you did say that the US (no qualification) is much much larger that Europe (no qualification), when it's not. Then, yes, you talked about dista
68 frmrCapCadet : This paints a generally realistic picture of the difference. Especially given the emptiness of much of the US (and Canada). I just did a loop car fer
69 UALWN : WN doesn't do more cherry picking than FR does. And certainly covering each one of the 50 US states is not a necessary condition to approve an LCC bu
70 BOStonsox : Whoops, I realized that I didn't finish it somehow. 6. BUR or ONT- for Los Angeles. BUR has a train station while ONT has one nearby. So as I was say
71 tdscanuck : Yes, *now*. Compare WN or FR's *starting* route network to what Skybus started with. Skybus tried to spring "from whole cloth" with nowhere near the
72 Post contains images UALWN : Yes, you're right. The point I was trying to make before is that, even if the US is large ---but not larger than Europe ---, there's no need to cover
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