Although FlyI's mostly-CRJ fleet probably doomed them for CASM reasons, I always thought that maybe--just maybe--they would have had a chance if they had adjusted their business model. They had (IIRC) 87 CRJ's that had to be flying, out of the the gate (so to speak), on day one. There weren't any EMB-170's or CR7's on the property. Anyway, ordering the A319's was probably enough to utilize their credit rating without trying to turn over the CRJ fleet too.
Their way to get this huge CRJ fleet airborne on day one, as noted above, was to throw huge amounts of capacity (8x to 10x daily on medium-size routes upon which United kept its usual capacity) from IAD
. United of course had to respond heavily to this assault on domestic feed at its east coast hub. Granted, Skeen & Co. may have thought that UA
--who was in bankruptcy at that point--wouldn't fight back. If so, that was a huge miscalculation. So UA
matched fares, probably did FF
promotions (UA experts correct me if wrong), and waged a full-scale battle. FlyI staked its entire business plan on flying 300 daily departures from IAD
. And---as my fellow FlyI flyers will remember--it didn't help that this sudden upsurge in a/c movements caused a lot of delays at IAD
I thought at the time that they should have dispersed about half their fleet to do point to point routes, like what ExpressJet does now as noted above. So instead of 8x ROC
, they should have done say 5x ROC
and 3x ROC
(no LCC competition on that route). Repeat story around the system--run routes like BUF
(no JetBlue on the route at that time); JFK
, etc. That way they aren't throwing 87 RJ
's and a $300 million bankroll all at any one airline's sacred cow.
Would it have worked? Probably not; the RJ
CASM was a lot to try to overcome on an LCC model, even with A319's on line to help out. But I think whatever chance Independence Air had, would have rested with a plan like what I'm describing. Oe problem was, from what I could tell in the Washington Post stories, that Skeen & Co. seemed to think they were invincible. Which is never a good assumption to make.