The Worst Airline in America is Making a Comeback This Fall

Back in May, Via Air effectively threw in the towel.

  • First Via Air didn’t show up when they were supposed to start air service at an airport and no one knew why. They weren’t returning calls from customers or even the airport.

  • Eventually they put out a statement claiming to be having difficulty attracting pilots, and claimed that their regional jet operation was being hampered by the grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX (!).

  • They stopped paying the airports they were serving. They started cancelling flights. Customers were showing up at the airport but there weren’t staff. Comments left on this blog suggest they may not have been paying their employees.

None of which was a surprising end for a company offering low fares with high costs per seat, and with an F-rating from the Better Business Bureau and 71% of TripAdvisor reviews that were poor or terrible (when I checked even Allegiant was only at 27% and Southwest at 6%).

Credit: Via Air

Via Air had moved from public charter operations to running commercial Essential Air Service subsidized flights out of Beckley and Parkersburg, West Virginia to Charlotte in 2014. They also ran unsubsidized flights from Beckley and Parkersburg to St. Augustine, Florida.

The Florida-based carrier then expanded operations and grew to a fleet of 6 fifty seat Embraer ERJ-145s and 4 thirty seat EMB-120 Brasilia turboprops before things went south and I started warning customers about buying tickets on the airline — customers are still waiting on refunds (and should be disputing credit card charges if they can).

Word now is that Via Air has been sold to charter carrier Ashley Air of Atlanta.

  • Ashley Air’s CEO Johns Ashley Jr. becomes CEO of both airlines
  • They plan to merge the carriers
  • Via Air’s Irit Vizer stays on as Chairman for a period of time ‘to allow for a smooth transition’

Via Air plans to re-launch scheduled air service this fall hubbing at Orlando Sanford airport. New CEO Johns Ashley says they’re pumping cash into the carrier to “eventually expand to the hundreds of communities that desperately need direct air service.”

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

More articles by Gary Leff »


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *