Skybus gets FAA certification

Columbus, OH based startup Skybus Airlines recieved certification last week from the FAA so that it can start flying on May 22, as planned, with a few brand-new Airbus A319s. The first flight is scheduled to be a morning departure from Columbus to Bob Hope Airport in Burbank, CA. On the same day, Skybus will start service to Boston (really Portsmouth, NH) and Kansas City. Other destinations will include Richmond, VA, Fort Lauderdale, Seattle/Vancouver (through Bellingham, WA), Greensboro, NC, and San Francisco (through Oakland). Evidently Skybus is trying the Ryanair approach to airports: choosing ones that are relatively inexpensive to operate from. In some markets (e.g. Kansas City, Richmond) this can be done at the city's main airport, but in more expensive areas (e.g. Boston Logan, Sea-Tac) this is harder to do when the landing fees are pretty high. Or as the company's "Rules of Flying" says, "Big airports can be a big pain. We choose less crowded and more convenient secondary airports for better punctuality and, of course, lower prices."

Skybus also seems to be copying Ryanair in another key area: amenities (or lack thereof). Ryanair is famous for having virtually zero extras, whether it be removing window shades and reclining seats or snacks and drinks or charging for baggage. Skybus does the same here, except they say that you don't have to "pay for everyone else's baggage", and if you're "hungry? Thirsty? Bring cash." And a book, since there's no inflight entertainment.

Of course, a certain portion of the fares are low - really low - at only $10, you probably couldn't expect too much. However, only a small percentage of fares - at least 10 seats per flight - are offered at that low price. More commonly, fares are going in the range of over $100. But if you can get the $10 fare, it's certainly a good deal. Now we'll just have to see if Columbus is a sustainable market - the reason why the company chose it was because America West pulled out of it a few years ago.