Sounds like a good idea and I think it could possibly work for cities like hartford, Providence and Columbus who have no trans atlantic service. Article from the Hartford Courant.
A West Hartford businessman is forming a new airline that would offer regular transatlantic flights from Bradley International Airport, something the state-owned facility has sought for decades.
AtlanticJet LLC, a company formed this past summer by former West Hartford Council member John Shulansky and a partner from New Canaan, Edward Wegel, plans to offer daily nonstop flights to London starting in the spring.
Before that can happen, AtlanticJet must buy or lease two or more Boeing 757-200s, the jetliner it intends to use. It must hire a company licensed by the Federal Aviation Administration to fly and maintain the planes. It must find a headquarters, probably in or near Hartford. Then it must finish raising more than $10 million and apply for millions more in state assistance.
But Shulansky, 47, is brimming with confidence.
He made money on his last aviation-related venture, East Hartford-based IBP Aerospace Group, which imported ejection-seat technology for military planes to the United States and was sold last year. He says the only thing between AtlanticJet and success is public support.
"This has got to be community-based," he said. "If businesses and the state don't support this, we are just not going to succeed."
Taking a page from the playbook of low-fare leader Southwest Airlines, AtlanticJet plans to fly from Bradley to Stansted Airport, which is London's No. 3 airport behind Heathrow and Gatwick airports. Stansted is about an hour's drive from the center of London, but it offers nine daily flights to Paris and nine more to Amsterdam, as well as connections to other European cities.
Stansted served 12.3 million passengers last year, and is one of the fastest-growing airports in Europe or the British Isles. Shulansky said once-daily flights from Bradley would fill a niche, since the only U.S. flights into Stansted were canceled by major air carriers after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
But the strongest argument for the new service is that Bradley serves a broad, well-to-do clientele of more than 3 million in an area that takes in all of Connecticut and much of western and central Massachusetts.
"When you compare the Hartford-Springfield market to other markets that have intercontinental service, it's remarkable that we don't have it," Shulansky said.
Figures from the state Department of Transportation and its consultants show more potential in the Bradley market than in urban areas such as Cincinnati, St. Louis, Pittsburgh and Raleigh-Durham, he said.
At the transportation department, Andre Libert, who is in charge of marketing and route development for Bradley, said past efforts to interest a major airline in starting European flights from Bradley have fizzled.
Airlines that serve New York and Boston know they have a captive market of Connecticut travelers bound for Europe. Libert said Shulansky's home-grown approach could break that mold.
"The market's here," he said. "If the community gets behind it - support from corporations, support from the state of Connecticut, support by Connecticut citizens - it could work."
Libert said his research - done before Sept. 11 - shows 300,000 to 600,000 people living in the area served by Bradley fly to Europe each year. Even at the low end, those numbers are more than enough to fill a 180-seat jet such as the Boeing 757-200 every day of the year.
Marty Morrison, who runs Fare Audit Inc., a company that tracks and analyzes airfares for major corporations, said flying from Bradley would save overseas travelers about five hours in commuting time. That would appeal to corporate travelers, he said.
"Boston is a circus. New York is a circus. If you have a choice, why would you put yourself through all that aggravation?" Morrison said. "With a 200-passenger airplane, they should be able to hit a good 75 to 80 percent of capacity if their product is priced correctly."
Shulansky said the blow to the airline industry by the Sept. 11 attacks may help his venture.
"There's a lot of used airplanes available," he said, "and likewise there are a number of experienced people who are looking for jobs and who know what they're doing."
The venture has financial backing from leading Hartford businessmen such as Robert Fiondella, chairman and chief executive officer of Phoenix Companies Inc., and lawyer Peter G. Kelly, Shulansky said. AtlanticJet also is seeking financial assistance from the state Department of Economic and Community Development.
Ten days ago, Shulansky quietly made a presentation to corporate leaders at a meeting of the Metro Hartford Regional Economic Alliance, the umbrella group for the Metro Hartford Chamber of Commerce. Among those present were Scott Frantz, chairman of the new state board created to improve marketing and promotion of Bradley airport. Frantz is expected to brief the board about AtlanticJet when it meets next Thursday.
Shulansky, who has been a corporate consultant, served on the board of the Hebrew Home and Hospital in West Hartford and successfully ran the Greater Hartford Open golf tournament, said he is not holding himself out as an airline executive. The expertise for that comes from Wegel.
Wegel, 43, has 16 years of experience in aviation. For the past three years, he has been managing partner of Aviation Capital Partners LLC, working on the financial restructurings of Cayman Airways and Guyana Airways as well as providing advice to major investment houses on their aviation-related investments. From 1997 to 1999, he was president and CEO of Chatauqua Airlines/US Airways Express, based in Indianapolis. In the early 1990s, he was president and chief operating officer of British West Indies International Airways in Trinidad. Before that, he was a co-founder of Atlantic Coast Airlines/United Express.
Kelly, a lawyer who has been active in national Democratic politics for decades, said he flies to Europe almost monthly, and finds dealing with congestion at New York and Boston airports "nightmarish." Flying out of Bradley, he said, would let travelers reach London or Paris "with 2½ hours less on the road, and at about half the cost."