As probably the most qualified to answer the questions, here's what you need to know about ProAir (and Deltaflyertoo, you are so off in every answer you mentioned!)...
ProAir was founded originally in 1995 and was to operate 737-200s, with plans actually centered around becoming sort of the Airline of the NBA. Two 737-200s were found in MIA
(that were heaps to say the least), however ValuJet's accident changed the whole game plan.
With the charter idea out, scheduled service was planned, with Detroit City Airport, centrally located though not in the best part of town, becoming the planned hub. 2 737-44Ps, originally destined for Hainan Airlines, were to become ProAir's first two airplanes (changed pre-delivery to -49Rs). Eventually, we took delivery of the two, becoming only the second US airline (Southwest being the other) to take delivery of brand new 737s to begin life as an airline.
Service was started in a shotgun manner, launching service on July 4, 1997. It was started this way to quietly get around residents from Gross Pointe who opposed the newfound noise our 737-400s were to bring to their area (needless to say, the Royal Air Freight Lear 24s must have been just delightful!) Flights from DET-BWI
, then DET-EWR
were our core cities. These cities proved to be very good for us, with our first full flight occuring by summer's end. A third airplane, ex China Airlines, was added,We followed up with PHL
and finally MCO
During the first winter, 1997, we added weekly Sat/Sun charters from DET-MCO
, and by early 1998, began international charters from JFK
Providenciales, Turks and Caicos.
As Sammyk mentions, we did have agreements in place with GM
, Chrysler, Delphi, Masco Tech and a couple of other smaller companies to provide transportation at lower prices in return for investment. Chrysler, for instance, would have us fly to PHL
in order for their costs to be kept down. It saved them quite a lot of money over the year by having us on that route versus what Northwest was charging prior. We became a thorn in NW
's side, predictably, and they did manage to up their airplanes on routes to MKE
which ultimately led to us pulling out of there. Hard to compete when NW
throws a couple of extra flights with 757s! NW
was proven to be a "bully" but not much was made of it (Vanguard and someone else, Reno Air maybe? had taken them to court already).
Anyway, the corporate agreements were quite a hit and the media really liked us...at least for the first year. It was a novel concept that today would work with the right gameplan.
So that covers the routes a bit.
Plane wise, we never operated more than 4 airplanes at any time. We had 5 on property in late 1999 but we were never given authority by the DOT/FAA to operate them. With the above mentioned 737-400s (N460PR/Orange tail, N461PR/Green tail, N462PR/Purple tail), we operated 2 737-300s (N360PR/yellow tail--also delivered new after Garuda didn't take it up, and N362PR/white tail, never painted--was to be Fuchsia). N361PR was fully painted as another yellow tail, but after languishing at SEA
for about a month awaiting a decision from the FAA whether or not the floorboards were up to spec (or something to that effect), the plane was returned to the lessor..and put into service with Frontier within a week's time! I can't and won't comment any further, but if you read the excerpts from the re-certification process, you can find some answers.
Anyway, to sum a few other things up, flight operations/crew wise, everyone worked their tails off to make the airline work. It's probably a good thing to see that most everyone has ended up benefitting from the time spent at ProAir, with a lot of our pilots now flying for JetBlue, Alaska and Southwest.
Our CEO, Craig Belmondo, contrary to Deltaflyertoo, at least was in Detroit for most of the week, though he did commute on the weekends back to BWI
. Should the HQ
have been in Detroit? Not necessarily. SEA
was one of the planned launch cities, but with only 4 planes, it was too risky to fly one out until we had enough to do so. Craig did fight to get as many as we could, telling the FAA repeatedly we couldn't make it as an airline if we didn't have at least 7 planes. But of course money prevented us from ever getting that number. Being tied in with the Detroit City Council and the Fund that dangled millions of dollars in investment in front of us for well over 2 years, never would materialize...until it was too late. The airline shut down in September, 2000, with the FAA citing 59 (IIRC) allegations of mtnce. violations, all but one later rescinded during the court proceedings (again, can't comment, won't comment, but read news stories about the re-certification).
Plans to relaunch, with the three famously painted (still!) MD
-90s, were underway, as the 737s were long since returned. The bankruptcy court hearing to showcase the new airline happened as planned, unfortunately for ProAir, it came 2 days after 9/11, and the bankruptcy judge had no compassion for aviation that day, saying that "no airline your size stands a chance in this environment", even though cost wise, we were amongst the lowest in the industry. And such, the airline filed Chapter 7 and the MD
-90s continue to sit in Marana, perilously close to scrapping.
Personally, I wouldn't trade a day I spent with the airline for anything. It was by far the best family I've ever had.
Hope that helps give you some insight, I'll tell more any time