JetAmerica, the nation’s newest low-fare, air-carrier service that offers non-stop seats starting at US$9 each way, announced it is self-imposing a 31-day delay of the launch of its first flights, which were originally scheduled for July 13, 2009 but are now slated to take off on August 14, 2009.
“The delay is not as unusual as it sounds,” according to JetAmerica’s vice president of operations Brian Burling. “Historically, many of the world’s most successful airlines and charter services have had to delay their launches.”
The primary reason for the delay is due to unforeseen complications with landing and take-off time slots at Newark Liberty International Airport, New Jersey.
Burling said, “In February 2009, the Federal Aviation Administration advised us, through an intermediary, that our operations at Newark could be accommodated. However, at about the same time, JetAmerica started making national news with its US$9 non-stop fares; when JetAmerica announced 60,000 web site visitors and sales in excess of 20,000, the FAA re-clarified its policy telling JetAmerica we would need to obtain slots,” according to Burling.
JetAmerica is sending out a blast email today advising 6,486 passengers that their credit card accounts will be fully refunded for all charges for flights booked from July 13 through August 13, 2009. The credits should appear on e-statements within 7 to 14 days.
“Recognizing that this delay is an inconvenience, as a courtesy aimed at preventing erosion of consumer confidence, JetAmerica will offer passengers who were originally booked on flights from July 13 through August 13, special incentives to rebook on future flights when they call our reservations center,” said JetAmerica spokesperson Bryan Glazer.
“These incentives include waiving the standard US$10 reservations convenience fee. We will also waive the US$20 fee for the first checked piece of baggage and the US$10 seat assignment fee,” says Glazer.
JetAmerica, a Part 380 indirect air carrier, subcontracting aircraft from Miami Air International, still intends to provide Boeing 737-800 big jet, roundtrip, non-stop flights starting on August 14, 2009 from Lansing, Michigan; Melbourne-Vero Beach, Florida; South Bend, Indiana; and Toledo, Ohio to New York-Newark Liberty International Airport, New Jersey. JetAmerica is also flying roundtrip flights between Toledo and Melbourne-Vero Beach and Minneapolis-St. Paul and from Lansing to Melbourne-Vero Beach.
“Initially, JetAmerica planned to fly 34 weekly flight segments starting on July 13, 2009. On August 14, 2009, the number of flights is still slated to expand to 40 per week. There are no immediate plans to change our flight schedules,” according to Burling.
JetAmerica chief executive officer John Weikle said, “We feel terrible for the folks who booked with us for travel during the July 13 – August 13 timeframe, but the FAA’s change in the slot policy for indirect air carriers is beyond our control. We are working hard to obtain all the slots we need as soon as possible.”
That FAA policy change was not brought to the carrier’s attention until after it had already made millions of dollars in sales.
JetAmerica’s successful business model is based on flying big jets and offering non-stop, low-fare flights in cities that are underserved by most airlines in cities where passengers are currently forced to travel on turbo prop planes and small commuter jets. They must make connections, endure long layovers, and pay extremely expensive airfares to travel to high-demand destinations such as New York and Florida.
JetAmerica is offering fares 50 to 70 percent less than other carriers flying similar but indirect routes.
“People should not be so quick to jump to negative conclusions about JetAmerica,” warned Burling. “I am particularly referring to Internet bloggers and naysayers who are predicting the worst.”
The airlines website, www.JetAmerica.com, is still active, and customers can still book online reservations for flights in mid-August into the fourth quarter of 2009.
CEO Wiekle concluded, “The overwhelming customer demand that we experienced so far is evidence of how much people in these underserved markets want to fly JetAmerica.”
At least one of JetAmerica’s focus city airports, Toledo-Express, is taking action to assist its passengers with alternative travel arrangements.
Carla Firestone, director of communications for the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority said, “JetAmerica passengers whose flights were cancelled can contact Atlas World Travel of Toledo. The company has agreed to waive all booking fees.”
Atlas World Travel corporate offices are located at 3139 North Republic Boulevard in Toledo. The telephone number is 419-841-1440. The web site address is www.atlasworldtravel.com.
Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority president and chief executive officer Michael J. Stolarczyk said, “Toledo Express Airport is also offering up to five days of free parking for JetAmerica’s inconvenienced passengers that use Atlas World Travel’s services to book July 13 through August 13 flights on other airlines.
JetAmerica passengers affected by the delayed inaugural flight launches may call 727-451-3970 for information on how their refunds will be processed.