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Was SkyBus ahead of its time?

Tue Sep 29, 2020 4:25 pm

Curious of people’s opinion on SkyBus, if you ever flew them, were they ahead of their time for the US, what would they have maybe looked like today if they had survived?
 
usflyer msp
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Re: Was SkyBus ahead of its time?

Tue Sep 29, 2020 4:35 pm

SkyBus had a stupid business plan. Columbus, Ohio to random airports was never going to work.
 
Curiousflyer
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Re: Was SkyBus ahead of its time?

Tue Sep 29, 2020 4:47 pm

With Southwest, Allegiant, Spirit and JetBlue, there are already quite a few airlines offering a diverse array of low cost models in the US. In order to compete with them, a serious business plan is necessary, backed by a solid product and sufficient capital.
 
MIflyer12
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Re: Was SkyBus ahead of its time?

Tue Sep 29, 2020 4:47 pm

By what criteria would you judge them to be ahead of their time?
 
aviationjunky
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Re: Was SkyBus ahead of its time?

Tue Sep 29, 2020 4:52 pm

Starting an ULCC at the start of a recession was a bad move. But if they were to have started before or after, they would've needed a better hub than CMH. The offered point to point service, with no connecting flight options. So everyone's final destination had to be Columbus.. And being from Ohio, I can tell you there is nothing there to make it your final destination.
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Jdv
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Re: Was SkyBus ahead of its time?

Tue Sep 29, 2020 4:55 pm

What ever happened to their aircraft?
 
OB1504
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Re: Was SkyBus ahead of its time?

Tue Sep 29, 2020 5:03 pm

Curiousflyer wrote:
With Southwest, Allegiant, Spirit and JetBlue, there are already quite a few airlines offering a diverse array of low cost models in the US. In order to compete with them, a serious business plan is necessary, backed by a solid product and sufficient capital.


ULCCs didn’t exist in the US in 2008. Spirit was still a regular LCC and Allegiant was happy with their package travel. I don’t think checked baggage fees even existed until a few months after Skybus shut down.

In that sense Skybus was ahead of their time by being the country’s first ULCC and the adoption of the model and subsequent success by Allegiant, Frontier, Spirit, and now Sun Country has proven that the ULCC concept can work in the United States.

What I think did Skybus in was their refusal to sell connections. I believe Allegiant does the same thing but they focus on point-to-point leisure pairs and have their vacation packages to help fill the airplane. Frontier is also adding point to point routes and Spirit has several focus cities across the country to connect passengers. As other posters mentioned, not a lot of people are going to/from Columbus but the geography would’ve made it a good connecting hub location for a new carrier.
 
WN732
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Re: Was SkyBus ahead of its time?

Tue Sep 29, 2020 5:06 pm

aviationjunky wrote:
Starting an ULCC at the start of a recession was a bad move. But if they were to have started before or after, they would've needed a better hub than CMH. The offered point to point service, with no connecting flight options. So everyone's final destination had to be Columbus.. And being from Ohio, I can tell you there is nothing there to make it your final destination.


They didn't even offer connections? That is a really stupid business model. At least when G4 started like that, they chose LAS. At least pick someplace that people actually want to go.
 
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TWA772LR
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Re: Was SkyBus ahead of its time?

Tue Sep 29, 2020 5:07 pm

SkyBus could've made it had they offered connections.
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RJNUT
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Re: Was SkyBus ahead of its time?

Tue Sep 29, 2020 5:09 pm

i believe that before they went under , there was talk of adding MCI-BLI. If you had told me in 1981 that i coudl fly nonstop from my hometown to BLI where i went to college, i would have said you were nuts!. It almost came to be although no longer had need for the flight but would have flown it for the novelty
 
usflyer msp
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Re: Was SkyBus ahead of its time?

Tue Sep 29, 2020 5:12 pm

WN732 wrote:
aviationjunky wrote:
Starting an ULCC at the start of a recession was a bad move. But if they were to have started before or after, they would've needed a better hub than CMH. The offered point to point service, with no connecting flight options. So everyone's final destination had to be Columbus.. And being from Ohio, I can tell you there is nothing there to make it your final destination.


They didn't even offer connections? That is a really stupid business model. At least when G4 started like that, they chose LAS. At least pick someplace that people actually want to go.


They also flew to poorly chosen secondary airports.

They tried to pass off CHA as Atlanta, BLI as Seattle and Vancouver, GPT as New Orleans, SWF as New York. No one was buying it. $10 ticket and then another $100 to get from the airport to the city.
 
USAirALB
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Re: Was SkyBus ahead of its time?

Tue Sep 29, 2020 5:21 pm

I'm confused how SkyBus ultimately thought their business model would work.

Everyone has touched on not offering connections, but I think what also killed SkyBus was the fact that they choose to fly to airports in the middle of nowhere. SWF was marketed as NYC (SWF is closer to ALB driving time than NYC), PSM for BOS, BLI for SEA, CEF for BDL, etc. The website was extremely misleading as they made no mention of CEF or PSM on their route map or reservation system, just Hartford and Boston, respectively. Their website also had this disclaimer: "It’s possible to create your own multi-point Trip through our Columbus and Greensboro bases, but we don’t recommend it. Our flight schedules are very tight, and you may miss your connection." So bizarre. I know European ULCCs do that secondary airport thing, but the public transit infrastructure in Europe is simply better than the US.

They were a little more in line with Ryanair than F9/G4/NK currently are. IIRC, they used air stairs to board planes at CMH to save money on using jetways. They didn't have a phone number or any type of customer support either, F9 currently does, although I'm not sure if G4/NK do.

Checked bag fees were cheap, at $5 for the each bag (up to two bags) and their change fees were only $40. That said, they probably would have increased it if around today.

Their aircraft were equipped with hot galleys, and they sold actual hot full meals on board, similar to European and Asian ULCCs. Flight attendants wore t-shirts IIRC, and they made a hefty commission off of on board sales.
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jetmatt777
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Re: Was SkyBus ahead of its time?

Tue Sep 29, 2020 5:29 pm

Jdv wrote:
What ever happened to their aircraft?


I tend to recall that they leased some aircraft to Virgin America during their startup phase.
 
ChasChandler
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Re: Was SkyBus ahead of its time?

Tue Sep 29, 2020 5:43 pm

Skybus also grew too fast. They were adding more and more destinations, but not more planes. If there was any kind of delay somewhere, it reverberated throughout the schedule.
 
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Polot
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Re: Was SkyBus ahead of its time?

Tue Sep 29, 2020 6:13 pm

Good idea, bad execution. You can’t have a no connections business model while based in CMH and flying to mostly very secondary airports. If they were based somewhere that people actually want to go to (eg Florida) they would have had much bigger success. G4 had a similar model but focused on large vacation markets like Las Vegas and Orlando.

jetmatt777 wrote:
Jdv wrote:
What ever happened to their aircraft?


I tend to recall that they leased some aircraft to Virgin America during their startup phase.

It was actually the other way around. VX leased Skybus A319s that VX had taken delivery of while they were still waiting to get off the ground, which Skybus used to expand as they awaited delivery of their own jets.
Last edited by Polot on Tue Sep 29, 2020 6:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 
N766UA
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Re: Was SkyBus ahead of its time?

Tue Sep 29, 2020 6:13 pm

Skybus: fly anywhere! As long as that anywhere is Columbus, Ohio.

That stupid airline never had a time.
 
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stl07
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Re: Was SkyBus ahead of its time?

Tue Sep 29, 2020 6:19 pm

usflyer msp wrote:
SkyBus had a stupid business plan. Columbus, Ohio to random airports was never going to work.

Tell that to G4, who has their largest stations in the most random cities. Nobody would have thought Belleville IL to Fort Walton Beach would be so successful that they upgraded it from 2x weekly to 2x daily within a matter of months
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Re: Was SkyBus ahead of its time?

Tue Sep 29, 2020 6:25 pm

usflyer msp wrote:
SkyBus had a stupid business plan. Columbus, Ohio to random airports was never going to work.



I wouldn't say the business plan was stupid but the choice of routes was. They were basically doing what G4 is doing know but G4 has a better route network one that turs a profit. I think Skybus was a lot like People Express and that worked pretty well out of EWR.
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VSMUT
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Re: Was SkyBus ahead of its time?

Tue Sep 29, 2020 6:26 pm

jetmatt777 wrote:
Jdv wrote:
What ever happened to their aircraft?


I tend to recall that they leased some aircraft to Virgin America during their startup phase.


Wasn't it the other way round, they leased some from Virgin America? AFAIK, those planes are now with Alaska Airlines.

The Skybus fleet ended up all over the place. Several ended up in Russia. Some went back to Air Canada. Brussels Airlines and Volotea have a few. The above mentioned Virgin America planes went back to Virgin America and ended up at Alaska Airlines.


USAirALB wrote:
I'm confused how SkyBus ultimately thought their business model would work.

Everyone has touched on not offering connections, but I think what also killed SkyBus was the fact that they choose to fly to airports in the middle of nowhere. SWF was marketed as NYC (SWF is closer to ALB driving time than NYC), PSM for BOS, BLI for SEA, CEF for BDL, etc. The website was extremely misleading as they made no mention of CEF or PSM on their route map or reservation system, just Hartford and Boston, respectively. Their website also had this disclaimer: "It’s possible to create your own multi-point Trip through our Columbus and Greensboro bases, but we don’t recommend it. Our flight schedules are very tight, and you may miss your connection." So bizarre. I know European ULCCs do that secondary airport thing, but the public transit infrastructure in Europe is simply better than the US.


usflyer msp wrote:
WN732 wrote:
aviationjunky wrote:
Starting an ULCC at the start of a recession was a bad move. But if they were to have started before or after, they would've needed a better hub than CMH. The offered point to point service, with no connecting flight options. So everyone's final destination had to be Columbus.. And being from Ohio, I can tell you there is nothing there to make it your final destination.


They didn't even offer connections? That is a really stupid business model. At least when G4 started like that, they chose LAS. At least pick someplace that people actually want to go.


They also flew to poorly chosen secondary airports.

They tried to pass off CHA as Atlanta, BLI as Seattle and Vancouver, GPT as New Orleans, SWF as New York. No one was buying it. $10 ticket and then another $100 to get from the airport to the city.


They were obviously hoping that the Ryanair model from Europe would work in the US. Ryanair routinely drops passengers off in the middle of nowhere (more so in the past than today). You can claim that public transport is better in Europe, but at remote secondary airports across Europe that really isn't the case. Those airports rely on private coach operators to step in.

IMO, the big mistake was that they didn't fully embrace the ULCC model. ULCCs rely on point-to-point flights. SkyBus tried to route all traffic through a hub, but then they decided to fully embrace the ULCC model when it came to not offering connections. Ryanair hops their planes all over Europe looking for opportunities. They also ordered their A319s with a lot of pricey extras, something Ryanair definitely doesn't do. Unless anything changed, Ryanair doesn't even have ACARS in its aircraft.
 
jetmatt777
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Re: Was SkyBus ahead of its time?

Tue Sep 29, 2020 6:31 pm

Polot wrote:
Good idea, bad execution. You can’t have a no connections business model while based in CMH and flying to mostly very secondary airports. If they were based somewhere that people actually want to go to (eg Florida) they would have had much bigger success. G4 had a similar model but focused on large vacation markets like Las Vegas and Orlando.

jetmatt777 wrote:
Jdv wrote:
What ever happened to their aircraft?


I tend to recall that they leased some aircraft to Virgin America during their startup phase.

It was actually the other way around. VX leased Skybus A319s that VX had taken delivery of while they were still waiting to get off the ground, which Skybus used to expand as they awaited delivery of their own jets.


you are correct, that's right. interesting time back then.
 
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Re: Was SkyBus ahead of its time?

Tue Sep 29, 2020 6:33 pm

stl07 wrote:
usflyer msp wrote:
SkyBus had a stupid business plan. Columbus, Ohio to random airports was never going to work.

Tell that to G4, who has their largest stations in the most random cities. Nobody would have thought Belleville IL to Fort Walton Beach would be so successful that they upgraded it from 2x weekly to 2x daily within a matter of months


St. Louis to Florida is not a random route. Columbus to Chattanooga is. G4 always has a major city or a tourism destination on one end of its routes, SkyBus did not.
 
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Re: Was SkyBus ahead of its time?

Tue Sep 29, 2020 6:35 pm

klm617 wrote:
usflyer msp wrote:
SkyBus had a stupid business plan. Columbus, Ohio to random airports was never going to work.



I wouldn't say the business plan was stupid but the choice of routes was. They were basically doing what G4 is doing know but G4 has a better route network one that turs a profit. I think Skybus was a lot like People Express and that worked pretty well out of EWR.


The choice of routes and the CMH base were integral parts of their business plan.
 
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InnsbruckFlyer
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Re: Was SkyBus ahead of its time?

Tue Sep 29, 2020 6:48 pm

Jdv wrote:
What ever happened to their aircraft?


One of their former A319s, N554SX, now flies for Bulgaria Air as LZ-FBB. I've actually flown it twice with Bulgaria Air, and in coach it's not a very comfortable ride at all. It has an actual business class cabin though, which is interesting.
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Re: Was SkyBus ahead of its time?

Tue Sep 29, 2020 6:57 pm

usflyer msp wrote:
klm617 wrote:
usflyer msp wrote:
SkyBus had a stupid business plan. Columbus, Ohio to random airports was never going to work.



I wouldn't say the business plan was stupid but the choice of routes was. They were basically doing what G4 is doing know but G4 has a better route network one that turs a profit. I think Skybus was a lot like People Express and that worked pretty well out of EWR.


The choice of routes and the CMH base were integral parts of their business plan.


Not really because the business model could have worked. It wasn't the failure the routes were.
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AirMatt
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Re: Was SkyBus ahead of its time?

Tue Sep 29, 2020 7:05 pm

I was living in Punta Gorda, FL at the time they started flying from PGD. I did take advantage of the $10 fares twice (once to CMH and once to PSM). The service was fine, and I believe the choice of routes, and lack of connections was flawed. I was going to try and fly them to BUR when they started that service from GSO....I was going to try making my own connection....but they ceased operations before I got the chance.
 
AWACSooner
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Re: Was SkyBus ahead of its time?

Tue Sep 29, 2020 8:43 pm

USAirALB wrote:
Their aircraft were equipped with hot galleys, and they sold actual hot full meals on board, similar to European and Asian ULCCs. Flight attendants wore t-shirts IIRC, and they made a hefty commission off of on board sales.

And they didn't allow you to bring your own food or drinks on board...which is about as asinine as it got.
 
MIflyer12
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Re: Was SkyBus ahead of its time?

Tue Sep 29, 2020 8:52 pm

VSMUT wrote:
IMO, the big mistake was that they didn't fully embrace the ULCC model. ULCCs rely on point-to-point flights. SkyBus tried to route all traffic through a hub...


That was my observation on the route map I found: everything routed through Columbus or Greensboro, with the exception of one West Coast thru MKE to CMH route. Definitely not point to point.
 
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Re: Was SkyBus ahead of its time?

Tue Sep 29, 2020 8:56 pm

stl07 wrote:
Nobody would have thought Belleville IL to Fort Walton Beach would be so successful that they upgraded it from 2x weekly to 2x daily within a matter of months


I would've. People in the Midwest see going to Florida as higher calling.
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drdisque
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Re: Was SkyBus ahead of its time?

Tue Sep 29, 2020 8:57 pm

Also, some of the secondary airports were truly asinine

CEF (Chicopee, MA)? Were the airport costs at BDL really that high that they thought it would be better to fly to CEF? It's not like BDL is congested.

UST, PGD, and ILM were utterly unheard of to use as alternative airports.

Allegiant ultimately proved that PGD can effectively serve Southwest Florida, but nobody has had any success before or since in UST or ILM. Various carriers have tried using GYY to serve Chicago over the years with little success. They definitely weren't going to succeed at GYY just flying to Columbus and Greensboro.
 
cschleic
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Re: Was SkyBus ahead of its time?

Tue Sep 29, 2020 9:24 pm

Thinking back, I remember reading their business philosophy on the website. It was based on a lot of theories about business operations rather than realities of the industry. There was a certain we're-smarter-than-everyone-else attitude and if you don't like it or the schedules don't work out, too bad, it was your risk, not our problem. Not a great attitude to have in a customer service industry.

Also, there's lot of mention of Allegiant here but remember....Allegiant is a full-service travel company that owns an airline. Granted, not every flight passenger is on a full tour package, but a lot of them are which gives G4 a significant advantage and makes comparisons apples and oranges. Also, a better route network that is designed to be leisure point-to-point.
 
luckyone
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Re: Was SkyBus ahead of its time?

Tue Sep 29, 2020 9:28 pm

No they weren't ahead of their time. They were poorly organized and tried to operate in an environment of record fuel prices without a solid route structure. I haven't seen that model succeeding in any time.
 
Chemist
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Re: Was SkyBus ahead of its time?

Tue Sep 29, 2020 9:31 pm

aviationjunky wrote:
Starting an ULCC at the start of a recession was a bad move. But if they were to have started before or after, they would've needed a better hub than CMH. The offered point to point service, with no connecting flight options. So everyone's final destination had to be Columbus.. And being from Ohio, I can tell you there is nothing there to make it your final destination.


They flew GSO-BUR as I was on one of those flights.
 
Weatherwatcher1
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Re: Was SkyBus ahead of its time?

Tue Sep 29, 2020 10:13 pm

Contrary to what others say, there were some innovative concepts that Skybus used.

First of all they were an ultra low cost carrier with unbundled tickets before airlines like Spirit and Frontier expanded the concept. Charging a fee for all checked bags was a new concept in 2007. Advertising fares without taxes and fees as low as $10 was a new concept. It was also,a new concept to have flight attendants paid commission on inflight food and beverage sales.

Secondly the relied heavily on internet and self service options so they could have less staff. They charged more at the airport than online for bags for example.

The poor business decisions such as the Columbus based network without connections were not successful. Not covering the Airline operational basics like having deicing contracts during winter also hurt them. In some ways they were ahead of their time, but in other ways their business decisions were a failure.
 
luckyone
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Re: Was SkyBus ahead of its time?

Tue Sep 29, 2020 10:34 pm

Weatherwatcher1 wrote:
First of all they were an ultra low cost carrier with unbundled tickets before airlines like Spirit and Frontier expanded the concept. Charging a fee for all checked bags was a new concept in 2007.
.
The original People Express did this in the early 1980s.
 
USAirALB
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Re: Was SkyBus ahead of its time?

Tue Sep 29, 2020 10:59 pm

cschleic wrote:
There was a certain we're-smarter-than-everyone-else attitude and if you don't like it or the schedules don't work out, too bad, it was your risk, not our problem. Not a great attitude to have in a customer service industry.

I went through their website on the Internet Archive and I found some of them:

-"Don’t sneak food onboard unless you brought enough for the whole plane."
- "Don't be late. We won't wait. Please arrive no later than 30 minutes before takeoff, or we’ll leave without you. Really. By that time, there won’t even be anyone to check your bag. It’s nothing against you–we just have to keep our flights on time, or things get expensive in a hurry."
-"We don’t have a phone number. Seriously. We’d love to chat, but those phone banks are expensive."
-"We don’t have a telephone number for lost bags, so it’s very important that you file a report before you leave the airport if there’s a problem."
-"We recommend that you obtain insurance coverage for it [checked bags], as Skybus is not liable for any damage that may occur."
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Cubsrule
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Re: Was SkyBus ahead of its time?

Tue Sep 29, 2020 11:02 pm

Weatherwatcher1 wrote:
The poor business decisions such as the Columbus based network without connections were not successful. Not covering the Airline operational basics like having deicing contracts during winter also hurt them. In some ways they were ahead of their time, but in other ways their business decisions were a failure.


I think this is exactly right. Aren’t NK and F9 in (pre-COVID) 2020 essentially Skybus with a major airport route structure much better suited to the product?
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stl07
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Re: Was SkyBus ahead of its time?

Wed Sep 30, 2020 12:52 am

NWAESC wrote:
stl07 wrote:
Nobody would have thought Belleville IL to Fort Walton Beach would be so successful that they upgraded it from 2x weekly to 2x daily within a matter of months


I would've. People in the Midwest see going to Florida as higher calling.

True, I guess they took advantage of the untapped demand.

Florida and the Lake of the Ozarks are midwest higher callings lol. But for some reason, they avoid Miami.
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stl07
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Re: Was SkyBus ahead of its time?

Wed Sep 30, 2020 12:54 am

usflyer msp wrote:
stl07 wrote:
usflyer msp wrote:
SkyBus had a stupid business plan. Columbus, Ohio to random airports was never going to work.

Tell that to G4, who has their largest stations in the most random cities. Nobody would have thought Belleville IL to Fort Walton Beach would be so successful that they upgraded it from 2x weekly to 2x daily within a matter of months


St. Louis to Florida is not a random route. Columbus to Chattanooga is. G4 always has a major city or a tourism destination on one end of its routes, SkyBus did not.

But you see, they managed to sell BLV as STL even though it is an hour away from the a lot of the suburbs and 30+ minutes from the city. And they managed to sell Fort Walton Beach as Florida rather than someplace like TPA or Fort Meyers. So I guess what I am saying is that Skybus' execution was poor rather than route choice. They should have been able to sell Chattanooga as the Smokey Mountains
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usflyer msp
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Re: Was SkyBus ahead of its time?

Wed Sep 30, 2020 1:40 am

stl07 wrote:
usflyer msp wrote:
stl07 wrote:
Tell that to G4, who has their largest stations in the most random cities. Nobody would have thought Belleville IL to Fort Walton Beach would be so successful that they upgraded it from 2x weekly to 2x daily within a matter of months


St. Louis to Florida is not a random route. Columbus to Chattanooga is. G4 always has a major city or a tourism destination on one end of its routes, SkyBus did not.

But you see, they managed to sell BLV as STL even though it is an hour away from the a lot of the suburbs and 30+ minutes from the city. And they managed to sell Fort Walton Beach as Florida rather than someplace like TPA or Fort Meyers. So I guess what I am saying is that Skybus' execution was poor rather than route choice. They should have been able to sell Chattanooga as the Smokey Mountains


BLV is a more realistic secondary airport than most of those that Skybus were using and St. Louis to the Florida panhandle is a well established market for drivers, G4 just had to get people out of their cars and into the air. CHA is more than two hours away from Gatlinburg/Dollywood so they could not market it as the Smoky Mountains. They tried to use CHA as a secondary airport for Atlanta which was stupid.
 
OB1504
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Re: Was SkyBus ahead of its time?

Wed Sep 30, 2020 3:10 am

stl07 wrote:
[And they managed to sell Fort Walton Beach as Florida rather than someplace like TPA or Fort Meyers.


Unless I’m missing something, Fort Walton Beach is in Florida.

It’s easier to sell secondary Florida to people who are just going to vacation on the beach. All those small airports have a beach 5-15 minutes away.
 
Curiousflyer
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Re: Was SkyBus ahead of its time?

Wed Sep 30, 2020 3:23 am

OB1504 wrote:
Curiousflyer wrote:
With Southwest, Allegiant, Spirit and JetBlue, there are already quite a few airlines offering a diverse array of low cost models in the US. In order to compete with them, a serious business plan is necessary, backed by a solid product and sufficient capital.


ULCCs didn’t exist in the US in 2008. Spirit was still a regular LCC and Allegiant was happy with their package travel. I don’t think checked baggage fees even existed until a few months after Skybus shut down.

In that sense Skybus was ahead of their time by being the country’s first ULCC and the adoption of the model and subsequent success by Allegiant, Frontier, Spirit, and now Sun Country has proven that the ULCC concept can work in the United States.

What I think did Skybus in was their refusal to sell connections. I believe Allegiant does the same thing but they focus on point-to-point leisure pairs and have their vacation packages to help fill the airplane. Frontier is also adding point to point routes and Spirit has several focus cities across the country to connect passengers. As other posters mentioned, not a lot of people are going to/from Columbus but the geography would’ve made it a good connecting hub location for a new carrier.


ULCC is just LCC with a U. The problem is not that they were trying ultra LCC, it is that their product did not make sense, and it was widely discussed on this very forum. Skybus had competition, and their offer, just a different of product, a variant on something already existing, was neither well thought nor well executed.
 
enplaned
Posts: 153
Joined: Mon Aug 29, 2016 9:49 pm

Re: Was SkyBus ahead of its time?

Wed Sep 30, 2020 4:50 am

OB1504 wrote:
Curiousflyer wrote:
With Southwest, Allegiant, Spirit and JetBlue, there are already quite a few airlines offering a diverse array of low cost models in the US. In order to compete with them, a serious business plan is necessary, backed by a solid product and sufficient capital.


ULCCs didn’t exist in the US in 2008. Spirit was still a regular LCC and Allegiant was happy with their package travel. I don’t think checked baggage fees even existed until a few months after Skybus shut down.


Sorry, that's not right. This prospectus for Allegiant in April 2007 mentions collecting fees for checked bags:

https://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data ... 1424b3.htm

Allegiant, in fact, was the first in the country to charge for checked bags (since the days of PeoplExpress, anyway). It wasn't Spirit. Allegiant had a fully unbundled model before Skybus was operating. And that's a fact. Maury Gallagher and Andrew Levy (and Ponder Harrison) figured it out for themselves - for sure they had the European examples observe, but for dang sure they weren't guided by Skybus.

In that sense Skybus was ahead of their time by being the country’s first ULCC and the adoption of the model and subsequent success by Allegiant, Frontier, Spirit, and now Sun Country has proven that the ULCC concept can work in the United States.


No. Skybus entered the market with a very aggressive European-style (e.g. Ryanair) approach to ULCC, with super low pilot pay (to the point where, within months pilots had collected enough cards to force a union election).

What I think did Skybus in was their refusal to sell connections. I believe Allegiant does the same thing but they focus on point-to-point leisure pairs and have their vacation packages to help fill the airplane. Frontier is also adding point to point routes and Spirit has several focus cities across the country to connect passengers. As other posters mentioned, not a lot of people are going to/from Columbus but the geography would’ve made it a good connecting hub location for a new carrier.


Allegiant doesn't sell packages. It sells hotels and rental cars as add-ons. They aren't packages as such, and while they are a useful profit booster they're the cherry on top of the cake, not the cake itself.

The downfall of Skybus was that Columbus, OH isn't London. Skybus was billed as the translation of Ryanair to the US. Well, the key to Ryanair's European triumph was a base at the largest and richest city in Europe, London, on what happens to be an island (and thus particularly conducive to demand for air travel). So Ryanair managed for decades to fly only point-to-point flights from London to some pretty modest points in Europe - because London is the ultimate European originator.

if you're going to translate Ryanair to the US, the US equivalent of London is not Columbus, OH. Had Skybus started at/near New York, LA, even Chicago, it might well have succeeded. Skybus needed to have its base near the ultimate US originator, and that has to be NY or LA.

Pure point-to-point is absolutely possible in the US - but you need to do it on city pairs than can support it, and the city pairs Skybus chose were idiotic.
Last edited by enplaned on Wed Sep 30, 2020 4:54 am, edited 1 time in total.
 
enplaned
Posts: 153
Joined: Mon Aug 29, 2016 9:49 pm

Re: Was SkyBus ahead of its time?

Wed Sep 30, 2020 4:54 am

Weatherwatcher1 wrote:
Contrary to what others say, there were some innovative concepts that Skybus used.

First of all they were an ultra low cost carrier with unbundled tickets before airlines like Spirit and Frontier expanded the concept. Charging a fee for all checked bags was a new concept in 2007. Advertising fares without taxes and fees as low as $10 was a new concept. It was also,a new concept to have flight attendants paid commission on inflight food and beverage sales.


Allegiant was first in the country to charge for bags (unless you go back to the original PeoplExpress). See my other post on the topic.
 
MIflyer12
Posts: 8271
Joined: Mon Feb 18, 2013 11:58 pm

Re: Was SkyBus ahead of its time?

Wed Sep 30, 2020 11:13 am

NWAESC wrote:
stl07 wrote:
Nobody would have thought Belleville IL to Fort Walton Beach would be so successful that they upgraded it from 2x weekly to 2x daily within a matter of months


I would've. People in the Midwest see going to Florida as higher calling.


Absolutely. And if not Orlando for theme parks, much biased to Gulf Coast Florida.
 
mawelsh
Posts: 57
Joined: Mon Mar 05, 2001 1:01 pm

Re: Was SkyBus ahead of its time?

Wed Sep 30, 2020 11:52 am

I know a guy that worked at Skybus in the back-office - his contention is they weren't serious about running an airline so much as locking up valuable Airbus leases to sell after the collapse.
 
luckyone
Posts: 3118
Joined: Thu Aug 21, 2008 1:50 pm

Re: Was SkyBus ahead of its time?

Wed Sep 30, 2020 2:58 pm

mawelsh wrote:
I know a guy that worked at Skybus in the back-office - his contention is they weren't serious about running an airline so much as locking up valuable Airbus leases to sell after the collapse.

Talk about an expensive endeavor.
 
KarlB737
Posts: 2855
Joined: Sat Mar 20, 2004 9:51 pm

Re: Was SkyBus ahead of its time?

Wed Sep 30, 2020 3:45 pm

ChasChandler wrote:
Skybus also grew too fast. They were adding more and more destinations..........


Reminds me of Independance Air.
 
DeltaRules
Posts: 5197
Joined: Sat Sep 01, 2001 11:57 am

Re: Was SkyBus ahead of its time?

Wed Sep 30, 2020 4:10 pm

I flew them three times on CMH-UST round trips (and did a Trip Report: https://www.airliners.net/discussions/t ... ain/107392). I remember at the time people 'round these parts (A.net, not Ohio) were appalled that they'd charge FIVE DOLLARS for a bag, which didn't seem so bad just a couple years later. They also had a $10 charge for priority boarding which, if your ticket were cheap enough, was worth it, as it was cattle car boarding beyond that. They had buy on board but, if you ate before departure and/or after arrival, it was unnecessary. Still, it was nice having mainline equipment as, at that point, even DL was down to some abysmal combination like 1 738, 1 M88, 1 CR7, 2 CRJ, 3 ERJ to ATL from all mainline just a couple years before.

The first two trips (July and November 2007) were fine. The third (just after New Year's 2008) was fine southbound, but an absolute cluster coming back due to snow. The flight out of UST was delayed and, surprisingly, we ended up parking at a jetway (B20 maybe?) on arrival. There was some delay with getting bags to baggage claim.

Connections were possible using CMH and GSO as hubs if the flight times lined up right. I considered a fourth trip with them to the 2008 Daytona 500 (with a connection in GSO), but considered it too risky and was happy to be back on a DL jet. (Two friends and I also considered a barnstorming day trip of CMH-CEF-CMH-MKE-CMH-MCI-CMH (or something similar), but didn't follow through).

SX had a few leased AC A319s- I believe the Nationwide logojet was one, complete with audio controls and dropdown monitors (neither of which were used). The VX and AC 319s were fine, but the factory delivered birds (double-overwing exits) had miserable legroom.

I saw SX advertising as far away as Dayton. I seem to remember they brought in some Ryanair guys as consultants. Of all the destinations they added, it was surprising they didn't have markets to serve Las Vegas and Orlando; LAS might've been hard to break into, but they could've gone to SFB. (That said, for Disney, the CMH-UST flights were PACKED; people didn't seem too put off by the fact they had to drive from/to Almost Jacksonville.)

edit- Their founder also had a thing for starting airlines in Ohio. He had a plan to launch an airline out of DAY called Heartland Airlines with 717s before Skybus, then looked at SGH (Springfield, OH) to start another after and eventually had a hand in some very short-lived airline out of TOL.
A310/319/320/321/333, ARJ, BN2, B717/722/73S/733/734/735/73G/738/739/744/757/753/767/763/764/777, CR1/2/7/9, DH6, 328, EM2/ERJ/E70/E75/E90, F28/100, J31, L10/12/15, DC9/D93/D94/D95/M80/M88/M90/D10, SF3, SST
 
User avatar
tb727
Posts: 2226
Joined: Thu Jun 30, 2005 1:40 pm

Re: Was SkyBus ahead of its time?

Wed Sep 30, 2020 4:41 pm

My former neighbors brother was John Weikle, the Founder. He has since moved away but before he left he had mentioned his brother wanted to start a similar airline again at some point. I was still flying freight and not for a ULCC yet but I really wish I could pick his brain now!
Too lazy to work, too scared to steal!
 
umichman
Posts: 145
Joined: Sun Apr 07, 2019 2:42 am

Re: Was SkyBus ahead of its time?

Wed Sep 30, 2020 5:45 pm

OB1504 wrote:
Curiousflyer wrote:
With Southwest, Allegiant, Spirit and JetBlue, there are already quite a few airlines offering a diverse array of low cost models in the US. In order to compete with them, a serious business plan is necessary, backed by a solid product and sufficient capital.


ULCCs didn’t exist in the US in 2008. Spirit was still a regular LCC and Allegiant was happy with their package travel. I don’t think checked baggage fees even existed until a few months after Skybus shut down.



Spirit redefined themselves as a ULCC in 2006 with Indigo investment and began unbundling in 2007.

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