Here’s an Airline That Shouldn’t Be Reborn

I’m too young to really remember Air Florida, although I know stories of Air Florida.

Mostly I remember that Howard Stern went on the radio in DC ostensibly asking them for a one-way ticket from Washington National airport to the 14th Street Bridge, a day after the crash of Air Florida flight 90 caused by improper de-icing.

After several failed resurrections of Pan Am and this summer’s rebirth of PeoplExpress, it seems like harkening back to the glory days is sort of “been there, done that.” And of all the names to resurrect…

    Air Florida returns

A return of Air Florida is now on the table.

Air Florida is a privately-held start-up carrier, incorporated as a Florida Corporation In 2014. The company has filed for registration of all logos and indicia of the iconic carrier (Air Florida 1st, 1971-1984), and will operate initially as a public charter carrier.

So what’s the business strategy?

While Air Florida will indeed provide leisure travel services from under-served airports In the Northeast and Midwest to various destinations in our home state. Many of the cities in our launch service will become focus cities upon further expansion. The carrier will offer connecting flights and point-to-point service between Northeast and Midwest destinations.

They are going to offer service to Florida from ‘under-served airports in the Northeast and Midwest’ because Florida is a tough place to get to from the Northeast apparently.

    Air Florida returns

And when they start service in those cities they’re going to grow them into mini-hubs. Air Florida wants to fly between the Northeast and Midwest. Because that makes sense.

In addition to providing both low-fare leisure and business travel, a key philosophy behind the start-up is a return to the original Air Florida’s K.I.S.S. (Keep It Sweet & Simple) principles. Air Florida does not intend to add hidden or ‘A La Carte’ fees to its fares, but will work to keep fares low while offering our customers what should be expected in air travel.

They’re going to be a low fare carrier offering full service without extra fees. In other words, they will have full costs but not full revenue.

And they are going to have a laser like focus on their customer base of leisure travelers. No, business travelers. No, leisure travelers. Ok, both.

They’re looking to launch next year with service from St Petersburg, Daytona Beach, and Fort Lauderdale to Gary, Indiana (“Chicago”), St. Louis, Pittsburgh, Allentown, and Worcester.

Yeah, that’ll work.

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 »

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  1. Allegiant has made a business model of flying ancient planes with terrible service on routes like these, so if Air Florida can have even halfway decent service with newer planes (any word on what they’ll be flying?) they might have a shot. PIE is a hidden gem, and it shouldn’t be too hard to compete with Allegiant, which is currently the only airline flying there.

  2. Not exactly sure why you need to be so sarcastic, Gary. I’m not saying this will become the next Southwest, but if they see a “need,” and customers benefit from more options, who’s getting hurt? No need to be so snotty.

  3. @ Doug–100% on the money.

    I’m in West Coast Florida and we have RSW/SRQ/TPA, but all have flaws–RSW flights limited and expensive; SRQ the same; TPA cheap but a hassle to get to, and connections don’t always go where the general population here travels–the midwest and northeast. Here in SRQ I would say 30% of the population is e from Indiana, and 20% are from the Worcester, MA area. So I don’t think this is such a silly idea.

    And PIE is a really under-utilized airport that is very accessible to a surrounding market of probably 3 million within a 50 mile radius. My retired parents drive from Port Charlotte to PIE at least 6 times a year to catch the “casino” plane (sigh).

  4. Coincidentally a day after the old movie about Flight 90 popped up in my YouTube suggestions list.

    It is a beautiful livery and logo. And you gotta like that kiss ad mockup.

    They are ironically hoping to use vintage 737-400s for the fleet. And they are also looking to wet lease an MD-11 for a West Coast flight. They used to fly DC-10s transatlantic.

    Now if they can get the hot 20 something flight attendants again…

  5. They’re going to give the white elephant known as BLV (the commercial side of Scott AFB) another go. BLV had a grand total of 8 general aviation flights last week. I guess AirFlorida is targetting people in Southern Illinois who don’t want to venture across the river unless absolutely necessary.

  6. What’s so silly about this business model? Plenty of overbuilt, dehubbed or thrown-by-the wayside airports with gates begging to be filled. Been to CLE, PIT, CVG, CMB, CMH, STL, etc. etc. lately? Give those folks a cheap shot down to vacation and some nice branding, maybe even throw in a free drink with well liquor and an umbrella in it. Sure beats connecting through ORD or something. I see them filling planes just fine.

  7. As much as Washington is a very itinerant city, Air Florida Flight 90 was an event which all who were in the area, and are old enough to remember, remember quite vividly. And it is part of the history that those who move to Washington learn quite quickly, as it was a terribly snowy day, traffic got terribly snarled, the Metro closed on account of an accident which had its own fatalities, and the whole city rather much came to a halt.

    No airline named Air Florida should expect that the name will carry goodwill in DC even 30 years later.

  8. With all the empty gates at STL, they’re better off flying out of Lambert rather than Mid-America (BLV). Of course, BLV is probably charging them nothing for landing rights while STL charges plenty.

  9. @jfhscott – Going to have to respectfully disagree. Maybe the “old guard” will remember, but of the tens of thousands who have been part of the DC population boom of the last ~5 years (of which I am admittedly one), I doubt very few are even aware of this, and those who are most likely chalk it up as an artifact of a time when air travel was very different than it is today (hijackings, decompressions, etc.).

  10. @CW

    I was a kid in the DC area at the time, and still recall it as a tragedy unequaled until 9/11. DC is, indeed, pretty transient, so memories are not what they might be in Cincinnati. But in my experience, anyone who has worked 5 years inside the beltway has had some member of the “old guard” tell them the story.

    And it was a calamity which got national press, perhaps because enough of the press is DC based. Indeed, I recall. within a few years, the “Truly Tasteless Jokes” books picked it up (I was an insensitive adolescent at the time). I posit that there is sufficient memory and lore that naming any airline Air Florida is a tough proposition in DC.

  11. I don’t see what’s so absurd about “full costs but not full revenue”, at least if done right. Isn’t that how B6 operates? Sure, it might rub some only-care-about-short-term-value Wall Street “analysts” the wrong way, but B6 has shown that one can be profitable (albeit not easily) while not out to screw the customers.

  12. Gary, why do you have to pretend you are so knowledgable about things that you have little experience with (like, running a business, or aviation in general)? Your mean-spirited, snotty snark on this is out of line.

    I see no reason why this airlines’ business model is any more or less absurd than dozens of others. The airlines are doing well nowadays. This one could succeed just fine, despite the predictions of unqualified self-appointed expert analysts. It all depends on how they execute.

  13. @Robert “I see no reason why this airlines’ business model is any more or less absurd than dozens of others. ” Agree. There are lots of absurd business models some of which even launch.

  14. Use Portsmouth NH international instead of Worchester MA. After research I have concluded that Pease is also a hidden gem. The only airline there is ALSO Allegiant. It is also closer to Boston and offers low cost bus service on site.

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