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BravoEchoNov
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Independence Air- 10 Years

Tue Jan 05, 2016 9:56 pm

Today marks 10 years since Independence Air ceased operations. Their short run was a little before my time so I would like to learn more about their failure.

They had a large hub at Washington Dulles but failed to become profitable. Is this due to using the CRJ or is it Dulles that held them back? With Frontier (F9) pulling out of Dulles, I am questioning whether Dulles has any potential to host a low-cost carrier.

http://airwaysnews.com/blog/2016/01/05/10-years-flyi-suspends-ops/
 
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NWAESC
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RE: Independence Air- 10 Years

Tue Jan 05, 2016 10:01 pm

10 years already?

Man, I'm old...
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StrandedAtMKG
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RE: Independence Air- 10 Years

Tue Jan 05, 2016 10:04 pm

Awww, I was just thinking about Indy the other day. I've never rooted for an airline more than I did for Indy. I lived right under the approach path to LAN during the short time Indy was trying to make it, and it was always fun to hear Indy's flights come over the scanner. I wanted them to be the Little Carrier That Could, but they...couldn't.

The scuttlebutt at the time was there was no way they would make it as a standalone carrier flying CR2's. The economics just weren't there (which they knew, and they started adding Airbuses). ACA was doomed from the minute their UA flying got pulled out from under them. I admire them for making a go of it, but it wasn't a winning proposition, unfortunately.
 
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Polot
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RE: Independence Air- 10 Years

Tue Jan 05, 2016 10:06 pm

The CRJ really hurt them- for a a long time their breakeven load factor was over 100% due to the fleet's high CASM. They needed the A319s on property much quicker.

I remember them being quite the controversial airline here on A.net (before my time as a member, but I was a lurker), with many diehard fans who were defending the airline, and its future, to the death (some of them refusing to accept sound logic, but that is another story).

[Edited 2016-01-05 14:08:40]
 
KarlB737
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RE: Independence Air- 10 Years

Tue Jan 05, 2016 10:25 pm

Another element that I recall is that Independence Air would enter a city with several flights a day (high frequency) right from the start. Usually a new air carrier will start with one or two flights a day just to get started. At that time I sensed that they felt with this strategy they could capture more fliers and more income quicker. Or since they were limited with a low capacity aircraft maybe this was the only way they could pull in more fliers with the multiple flights.

The effect of high frequency right from the start I'll leave to others to evaluate.
 
Alias1024
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RE: Independence Air- 10 Years

Tue Jan 05, 2016 10:27 pm

Wow! Ten years already. I was thinking about them just today as the aircraft I was flying was a former ACA/Independence Air aircraft. It was a flawed business plan from the start, but they gave it a good run.

Quoting StrandedAtMKG (Reply 2):
The scuttlebutt at the time was there was no way they would make it as a standalone carrier flying CR2's. The economics just weren't there (which they knew, and they started adding Airbuses). ACA was doomed from the minute their UA flying got pulled out from under them. I admire them for making a go of it, but it wasn't a winning proposition, unfortunately.

It didn't help that they hubbed at an airport with an entrenched legacy, suppressing yields and ensuring they'd never cover the high CASM. In a way, I think ExpressJet learned from Indy Air and at least didn't repeat that mistake. Not that ONT wasn't a mistake for XEs largest operation, but for entirely different reasons.
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ArmitageShanks
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RE: Independence Air- 10 Years

Tue Jan 05, 2016 10:46 pm

Didn't they have some sort of deal where you paid like 500 bucks and then flew for like 50 bucks a leg or something similar? I remember they had some pretty awesome student discounts too.
 
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CV990A
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RE: Independence Air- 10 Years

Tue Jan 05, 2016 10:50 pm

Let me echo the sentiment - Holy Crap, 10 Years???

I remember going to IAD to watch the last flight arrive, and the place felt like a funeral parlor. I later bought the Skymarks model of their A319, which is sitting on the bookcase next to my computer at home to remember them.

As a recent college grad with little money, they were a great way to travel cheaply to visit friends and family. My wife and I flew them once, or even twice a month over the course of 7-8 months on the IAD-HPN route as we were planning our wedding. I think I might have even written a trip report or two about them!

It seemed like they knew the CRJs were a losing proposition, and they just couldn't get the A319s in-house fast enough.

Am I wrong in thinking they live on as Compass / DL Connection; that NW bought their certificate in the bankruptcy proceedings, and used it to get Compass up and running? If so, glad to see some part of the carrier live on.

RIP Indy...
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DCA-ROCguy
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RE: Independence Air- 10 Years

Tue Jan 05, 2016 10:51 pm

Quoting KarlB737 (Reply 4):
Another element that I recall is that Independence Air would enter a city with several flights a day (high frequency) right from the start.

This was a problem that I think deserved more attention. Had Indy flown say half the frequencies from most stations to IAD, and then done some point-to point on routes that US had cut back on in recent years, perhaps a bit 'under the radar,' I wonder if Indy would have been able to keep yields high enough to get the 319's going and make a go of it. We'll never know.

Dulles has been much discussed here recently. Unfortunately, the region's 10 year or so experiment with LCC's at Dulles seems to have resulted with them moving most capacity to DCA once they got slots from the various merger-related transactions. Dulles can support a small amount of domestic service, including some LCC capacity, but most of the NOVA and DC seem to have decided that they prefer DCA for domestic travel. But with a hub to feed its flights, maybe Indy would have done ok at Dulles.

Jim

[Edited 2016-01-05 14:53:18]
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jetmatt777
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RE: Independence Air- 10 Years

Tue Jan 05, 2016 10:52 pm

Quoting CV990A (Reply 7):
Am I wrong in thinking they live on as Compass / DL Connection; that NW bought their certificate in the bankruptcy proceedings, and used it to get Compass up and running? If so, glad to see some part of the carrier live on.

Yes, according to Wikipedia, they bought the AOC for $2million and began Compass serving IAD-MSP.
 
nws2002
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RE: Independence Air- 10 Years

Tue Jan 05, 2016 11:03 pm

Ahhh...my first real job. I still miss everyone I worked with there very much. Hard to imagine it has been 10 years.

Quoting KarlB737 (Reply 4):
Another element that I recall is that Independence Air would enter a city with several flights a day (high frequency) right from the start. Usually a new air carrier will start with one or two flights a day just to get started. At that time I sensed that they felt with this strategy they could capture more fliers and more income quicker. Or since they were limited with a low capacity aircraft maybe this was the only way they could pull in more fliers with the multiple flights.

The effect of high frequency right from the start I'll leave to others to evaluate.

The problem was we had to make lease payments on the aircraft and had a large amount of staff in place. There was an attitude that we have to keep utilization high, unfortunately the load factors and RASM sucked. FLYi didn't have the benefit of being a startup with one or a few aircraft and naturally building, instead it was like an instant large low fare carrier was dropped into IAD.

Quoting ArmitageShanks (Reply 6):
Didn't they have some sort of deal where you paid like 500 bucks and then flew for like 50 bucks a leg or something similar? I remember they had some pretty awesome student discounts too.

The GLiDE Pass. I don't remember the exact deal but it was basically filling empty seats, our load factors on most routes were really low.
 
ScottB
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RE: Independence Air- 10 Years

Tue Jan 05, 2016 11:10 pm

Quoting KarlB737 (Reply 4):
Another element that I recall is that Independence Air would enter a city with several flights a day (high frequency) right from the start. Usually a new air carrier will start with one or two flights a day just to get started. At that time I sensed that they felt with this strategy they could capture more fliers and more income quicker. Or since they were limited with a low capacity aircraft maybe this was the only way they could pull in more fliers with the multiple flights.

I think this was primarily driven by the fact that they had 80 or so CRJs and needed places to fly them. Before the relationship with UA ended, ACA (FlyI's previous name) operated as UA Express at both ORD & IAD. So if you've got 80 CRJs with a practical range of around 1000 miles and a single hub at IAD, you're going to be running a lot of frequency to the few dozen airports which can reasonably support non-stop service to WAS.

Quoting Alias1024 (Reply 5):
It didn't help that they hubbed at an airport with an entrenched legacy, suppressing yields and ensuring they'd never cover the high CASM.

IMO DH management expected that United would struggle to find replacement feed at IAD and would eventually abandon the hub. That didn't happen, of course.

Quoting BravoEchoNov (Thread starter):
They had a large hub at Washington Dulles but failed to become profitable. Is this due to using the CRJ or is it Dulles that held them back? With Frontier (F9) pulling out of Dulles, I am questioning whether Dulles has any potential to host a low-cost carrier.

The aftermath of Independence Air is ironically part of why Dulles has become unsuitable for low-cost carriers. MWAA committed to expensive projects like the AeroTrain which have driven up costs at IAD and made it less competitive with the region's other airports. But for the most part, DH failed due to the CRJ being unworkable for a low-fare carrier in an environment of rapidly increasing fuel costs.
 
bjorn14
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RE: Independence Air- 10 Years

Tue Jan 05, 2016 11:19 pm

Could have DH survived if they had gotten enough 319s?
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mariner
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RE: Independence Air- 10 Years

Tue Jan 05, 2016 11:28 pm

Quoting bjorn14 (Reply 12):
Could have DH survived if they had gotten enough 319s?

Doubt it.

It was a cockamamy idea from the git-go, trying to run a low fare airline with a high cost aircraft, and even if the A319's had come earlier, they wouldn't have helped - and didn't - because the bulk of the operation was still CRJ.

There was more to it. They'd run successfully as UAX and seemed to think a lot of those pax would go with them when they split. But United retaliated big-time -duh! - and Independence seemed surprised when they did and had nowhere to run.

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RE: Independence Air- 10 Years

Tue Jan 05, 2016 11:40 pm

Quoting mariner (Reply 13):
But United retaliated big-time -duh! - and Independence seemed surprised when they did and had nowhere to run.

Independence Air was just slightly before my time. I lived in Raleigh at the time and what I remember from when FLYi came to RDU was really aggressive marketing touting the new low fare airline, and in turn really aggressive marketing from United offering similar fares and something like double miles on flights to IAD, DCA, and BWI.
 
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jsnww81
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RE: Independence Air- 10 Years

Tue Jan 05, 2016 11:46 pm

Quoting mariner (Reply 13):
But United retaliated big-time -duh! - and Independence seemed surprised when they did and had nowhere to run.

Who else remembers the G Gates at IAD that United had to build very hastily for its Express flights when Independence Air kept the (much nicer) A Gates?

I've been on a.net for 14 years and the IAD G Gates are probably the only time I've ever seen the forum so unanimously, unequivocally united in its hatred. People really, really, REALLY despised that building. When Indy ceased operations, United wasted no time demolishing it and paving over the site.

A strange little chapter in IAD history for sure.
 
ROCDLFAN
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RE: Independence Air- 10 Years

Tue Jan 05, 2016 11:54 pm

Does anyone have a complete list of Indy's routes? Indy was waaaay before my time began, but still hear them mentioned from time to time (of course have heard some things about them over the years.) Always have wanted to learn more, however.
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md3
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RE: Independence Air- 10 Years

Wed Jan 06, 2016 12:24 am

My first airline employer as well. 10 years and two airlines ago, is really hard to wrap my head around.
 
bcoz
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RE: Independence Air- 10 Years

Wed Jan 06, 2016 2:06 am

I seem to recall they offered some sort of "all-you-care-to-travel" standby option for college students during the summer of 2005. That sound right to anyone? I remember being upset because I was a few years out of college (graduated in 2002) and couldn't take advantage of it.

I flew them ORD-IAD-GSP and return for Christmas 2004. I Concourse A at IAD being a zoo because of irrops. Flight was supposed to get into GSP at around 10 p.m. Touched down at about 4:00 a.m. instead.

As others have said... Neat concept, but doomed from the start.
 
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jsnww81
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RE: Independence Air- 10 Years

Wed Jan 06, 2016 2:33 am

Quoting bcoz (Reply 18):
I seem to recall they offered some sort of "all-you-care-to-travel" standby option for college students during the summer of 2005. That sound right to anyone? I remember being upset because I was a few years out of college (graduated in 2002) and couldn't take advantage of it.

I remember. I'm a 2003 grad and I was similarly upset.

I also loved Independence Air because, apart from Southwest, they were the only US carrier still offering a printed timetable. Big ones, too. I always made a point of stopping by their ticket counter to pick one up.
 
F9Animal
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RE: Independence Air- 10 Years

Wed Jan 06, 2016 2:44 am

Like others have said, Indy didn't have the chance to grow smart. In one night, they had to figure out how to keep the bills paid, and 80 CRJ's in the air. The 319's were slowing the bleeding. For every 319, they were parking a few rj's. Had Indy started with more 319's or 320's, Indy might have had a chance.

Fuel was another hit if my memory serves me right. Fuel prices were starting their roller coaster ride. Indy had some good loads on their SEA to IAD route. Indy had started to raise the fares on this route, but it was too late. UA also did all it could to rip the bandaid off of the cut arteries at Indy.

It was a very nice airline. Clean cabins, wonderful crews, and lots of hope. The airline had a ton of young people, and the overall feeling around the workers wa
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PITrules
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RE: Independence Air- 10 Years

Wed Jan 06, 2016 3:40 am

Quoting mariner (Reply 13):

It was a cockamamy idea from the git-go, trying to run a low fare airline with a high cost aircraft, and even if the A319's had come earlier, they wouldn't have helped - and didn't - because the bulk of the operation was still CRJ.

Of course the A-319s helped. In the final couple months of FLYi, the fleet consisted of 12 A-319s and 30 CRJs. Perhaps that's the size they should have started out as, but as already mentioned they already had leases on 87 CRJs. Plus starting out that small would have meant furloughing over half the company on day one.

Quoting ROCDLFAN (Reply 16):
Does anyone have a complete list of Indy's routes?

This may be of help:
http://www.departedflights.com/DH110304.html

Note the MCO and TPA focus cities. The west coast cities were SEA, SFO, SJC, LAX, LAS, and SAN.
FLYi
 
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mariner
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RE: Independence Air- 10 Years

Wed Jan 06, 2016 3:45 am

Quoting PITrules (Reply 21):
Of course the A-319s helped.

How did they help - they were still losing money and they still went bust.

Quoting PITrules (Reply 21):
Plus starting out that small would have meant furloughing over half the company on day one.

So instead they burned their shareholders and all the staff still lost their jobs.

mariner
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STT757
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RE: Independence Air- 10 Years

Wed Jan 06, 2016 3:46 am

Quoting PITrules (Reply 21):
This may be of help:
http://www.departedflights.com/DH110....html

Here's there schedules from 2004:

http://www.departedflights.com/DH120104p5.html

As mentioned the frequencies on some of these routes is crazy, I wished they could have succeeded but I don't see how considering the environment that lay ahead. Loved their livery and the name, "Independence" .
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PITrules
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RE: Independence Air- 10 Years

Wed Jan 06, 2016 3:53 am

Quoting mariner (Reply 22):
How did they help - they were still losing money and they still went bust.

Your reply was to the question of if they received more Airbuses earlier. Since the high numbers of CRJs was the problem, common reasoning would suggest that having those Airbuses earlier and in greater numbers would have helped. Furthermore, during the final couple months they were not losing nearly the money they were early on. Again, with 12 Airbuses and 30 CRJs as opposed to 87 CRJs. So yes, the A319s helped.

Quoting mariner (Reply 22):

So instead they burned their shareholders and all the staff still lost their jobs.


So the decision to start Independence Air was not nearly that black and white.
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dbo861
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RE: Independence Air- 10 Years

Wed Jan 06, 2016 4:12 am

Quoting STT757 (Reply 23):
Loved their livery and the name, "Independence" .

Same here! It's still one of my favorite liveries of all time. It's too bad they couldn't make it.
 
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mariner
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RE: Independence Air- 10 Years

Wed Jan 06, 2016 4:21 am

Quoting PITrules (Reply 24):
Your reply was to the question of if they received more Airbuses earlier. Since the high numbers of CRJs was the problem, common reasoning would suggest that having those Airbuses earlier and in greater numbers would have helped.


I very much doubt that an earlier arrival of the A319's would have reduced the losses being made by the CRJ's.

Quoting PITrules (Reply 24):
So the decision to start Independence Air was not nearly that black and white.

I was following it fairly closely at the time - chums of mine had brought shares in the airline and were encouraging me to do the same.

What I saw was fairly black and white. United, which had its own troubles, had offered them a contract at a somewhat reduced rate. They rejected it and were determined to give United the finger. It's one reason why they chose the name - "independence" from United.

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seabosdca
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RE: Independence Air- 10 Years

Wed Jan 06, 2016 4:53 am

Flying the wrong aircraft out of the wrong airport. Every slot that gets added at DCA without any decline in yields helps to prove the point that few people really *want* to use IAD. It's an international feeder hub and a low-cost reliever, and that's it. Since the domestic O&D traffic is low-yielding, there's no way to make money with something like a CR2.

I don't think they could have survived even with 319s, though. They were up against a fortress hub, and UA could have done whatever it took. Driving them out might have cost UA a bit more money, and that's it.
 
StrandedAtMKG
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RE: Independence Air- 10 Years

Wed Jan 06, 2016 6:13 am

Quoting mariner (Reply 13):
But United retaliated big-time -duh!

It wasn't just UA that retaliated. When Indy launched LAN-IAD Northwest turned right around and launched LAN-DCA (or was it IAD? I forget, but I'm pretty sure it was DCA.) and started dumping yields, so with 1-2 flights a day there was no way Indy was going to make it at such a small station.
 
flyiguy
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RE: Independence Air- 10 Years

Wed Jan 06, 2016 12:37 pm

Quoting StrandedAtMKG (Reply 28):
It wasn't just UA that retaliated. When Indy launched LAN-IAD Northwest turned right around and launched LAN-DCA (or was it IAD? I forget, but I'm pretty sure it was DCA.) and started dumping yields, so with 1-2 flights a day there was no way Indy was going to make it at such a small station.

It was initially IAD but once Indy Air ceased the service, the service remained for NWA but was ultimately move to DCA and then cut all together.

FLY
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cloudboy
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RE: Independence Air- 10 Years

Wed Jan 06, 2016 2:06 pm

They, like everyone else, got too obsessed with the LLC model. That simply does not work with small aircraft. They would have been much better off focusing on great service to a lot of smaller ignored cities and built up a customer base of people who wanted or needed to fly direct. You can't easily compete by doing the same thing everyone else is with worse equipment.
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airtanker
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RE: Independence Air- 10 Years

Wed Jan 06, 2016 3:36 pm

I was able to grab an "Inaugural Flight" certificate on their first TYS-IAD flight with these guys. I loved their safety brief with Mary Matalin addressing those seated on the right side and James Carville addressing those on the left
 
superjeff
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RE: Independence Air- 10 Years

Wed Jan 06, 2016 4:23 pm

Quoting mariner (Reply 13):
There was more to it. They'd run successfully as UAX and seemed to think a lot of those pax would go with them when they split. But United retaliated big-time -duh! - and Independence seemed surprised when they did and had nowhere to run.

IIRC, United was in bankruptcy and attempted to renegotiate their contract, reducing what they were paying to ACA to act as a feeder (same thing, actually, with Air Wisconsin). ACA told them they couldn't afford to operate at the new proposed rates, so they terminated. Then ACA changed their name to Independence air and tried it on their own. They ordered A319's almost immediately, but they didn't have enough, fast enough, to overcome the high costs of operating the CRJ's.
 
richierich
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RE: Independence Air- 10 Years

Wed Jan 06, 2016 4:44 pm

Quoting nwaesc (Reply 1):
10 years already?

Man, I'm old...

No joke...I remember watching their last scheduled departure EVER, as a spectator from HPN. It was kind of poignant to see the aircraft leave knowing it would not be back.

Quoting nws2002 (Reply 10):
The problem was we had to make lease payments on the aircraft and had a large amount of staff in place. There was an attitude that we have to keep utilization high, unfortunately the load factors and RASM sucked. FLYi didn't have the benefit of being a startup with one or a few aircraft and naturally building, instead it was like an instant large low fare carrier was dropped into IAD.

That pretty much sums it up. IAD was also not the best choice of hub, and the CRJ was the wrong choice of aircraft to be the backbone of the fleet. While there was little to complain about from a customer service or marketing perspective, the airline was a rushed departure from being a UA regional and was not ready to be an independent airline. It needed to change its model and it could not do it quick enough to survive...if the Airbuses had been around from the start, maybe it would have had a fighting chance but sadly it was not to be.
None shall pass!!!!
 
DXTraveler
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RE: Independence Air- 10 Years

Wed Jan 06, 2016 4:48 pm

"I loved their safety brief with Mary Matalin addressing those seated on the right side and James Carville addressing those on the left"

I guess I'm in the minority. It seems longer than 10 years. Dennis Miller did great safety brief too. Even if you don't like Miller, this clip is worth watching, with video of Indy Air aircraft.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bnUTh1kNYBY
 
izbtmnhd
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RE: Independence Air- 10 Years

Wed Jan 06, 2016 6:02 pm

Independence Air was a financial disaster from the start, why even bother remembering it. ACA should have stuck with United even with the reduced rates. People within the company were delusional thinking the business model of flying empty CRJs would work. The A319s as a saving grace? Whatever, they were mostly empty too. Just bad decision upon bad decision. It's a great example of how not to start an airline.

But it was great to for people wanting to fly cheap out of IAD.  

-izbtm
 
n92r03
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RE: Independence Air- 10 Years

Wed Jan 06, 2016 9:25 pm

Quoting jsnww81 (Reply 15):
Who else remembers the G Gates at IAD that United had to build very hastily for its Express flights when Independence Air kept the (much nicer) A Gates?


I flew them twice, SAN-IAD, was late arriving IAD due to odd routing that went far south to avoid WX. I just remember thinking it was a long time in a 319, but was comfortable. Using the A gates was odd, I distinctly remember walking through there and the woman behind me all upset that she had missed her connection as we were late arriving.

A few days later I flew them IAD-TPA, the only thing I remember about that flight was I sat in 1D and the FA was smoking hot that was working our section.  
 
N766UA
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RE: Independence Air- 10 Years

Wed Jan 06, 2016 9:55 pm

I flew them on their inaugural CLE-IAD. On that particular leg, I loved them! The crews were super friendly, the jet was clean and comfortable (especially for a CRJ2!), and they seemed different... in a good way.

The return IAD-CLE, however, was a nightmare. A 25 minute storm on the field at IAD delayed our flight by nearly 8 hours and the customer service was attrocious. I finally was able to find our crew in the melee and I remember them saying "just look for us; we won't leave without you!" which made me feel a lot better because NOBODY was communicating ANYTHING to the pax that were jampacked in A concourse.

Long story short, ACA was an airline with a lot of hardworking people who really got the shaft. Unfortunately IDE was just doomed from the start.
 
F9Animal
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RE: Independence Air- 10 Years

Thu Jan 07, 2016 2:20 am

Quoting izbtmnhd (Reply 35):

Independence Air was a financial disaster from the start, why even bother remembering it. ACA should have stuck with United even with the reduced rates. People within the company were delusional thinking the business model of flying empty CRJs would work. The A319s as a saving grace? Whatever, they were mostly empty too. Just bad decision upon bad decision. It's a great example of how not to start an airline.

But it was great to for people wanting to fly cheap out of IAD.  

Why bother remembering it? It was a cool little airline. As for empty 319's, you obviously never worked for the airline. I had the pleasure of loading the luggage on their SEA to IAD flights. The 319 was pretty darned packed. As for people being delusional, I think you failed to see people gave their best effort. Lots of jobs were lost when Indy closed doors.

I have to tip my hat to those who decided to give Independence a chance. The odds were against them, and the execs knew it. They could have easily just shut ACA down when UA dropped them. Instead, they gave it a shot.
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bahadir
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RE: Independence Air- 10 Years

Thu Jan 07, 2016 10:36 pm

I have flown ACA more at the day that they were Jetstream operators than the days of CRJs. Several instructors of mine went to work for them. Many years later, my instructors on CRJ were former ACA pilots. They all talked highly about it.

Of course, the employees suffered the most. Their CEO retired in FL pretty comfortably, if I recall correctly.
Earthbound misfit I
 
RDUDDJI
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RE: Independence Air- 10 Years

Thu Jan 07, 2016 10:54 pm

I worked for DH before IDE and during the transition. I remember being in the DH hanger at IAD when they "launched" the airline. Fondly recall proving runs while I worked in the SOC. Like many failed airlines, they had good people but a terrible business plan (management).

Admittedly, I was happier when DH was a UAX/DLC carrier. It was nice having NRSA benes on both UA and DL.  
Sometimes we don't realize the good times when we're in them
 
Cactus742
Posts: 142
Joined: Fri Nov 17, 2006 5:18 am

RE: Independence Air- 10 Years

Mon Jan 11, 2016 5:37 am

2004-05 was my first year of law school in Washington. I did what was probably the responsible thing and kept my nose in the textbooks and completely missed a golden opportunity to fly DH and travel cheaply. Wish I had tried it at least once. Golden opportunity squandered!
Do not take life too seriously. You will never get out of it alive.

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