Worst Airline In America Changes Its Name, Hoping You Might Fly Them

Via Air had an F-rating from the Better Business Bureau and 71% of TripAdvisor reviews that were poor or terrible (at the time even Allegiant was only 27% negative and Southwest Airlines 6%).

In May 2019 they didn’t show up for an inaugural flight at a new airport and no one knew why. They weren’t returning calls from customers or even the airport.

  • They eventually blamed the grounding of the 737 MAX, even though they operate regional jets.

  • They also said they had a problem attracting pilots. That’s a real challenge for an airline that, I’m told, stopped paying its employees.


Credit: Via Air

They stopped paying the airports they were serving. They started cancelling flights. Customers were showing up at the airport but there weren’t staff. Then they effectively shut down.

Via Air had low fares, high costs, and served routes without enough passengers like Beckley and Parkersburg, West Virignia to St. Augustine, Florida. I started warning customers about buying tickets on the airline.

After shutting down, Via Air announced a deal with Ashley Air of Atlanta with plans to re-launch scheduled air service out of a hub at Orlando Sanford airport. Ashley Air didn’t pay employees. Via Air entered bankruptcy shortly before the pandemic.

Then Wexford Capital announced a deal to acquire the airline out of bankruptcy with a plan to operate in the Southeast, Midwest and Alaska. They appointed Wayne Heller, former Chief Operating Officer of Republic Airways, as CEO. Since Via had just a single Embraer E-145 regional jet left, Wexford Capital appeared to be buying operating certificate more than anything else.

Now they’re asking the government to reissue Via Air’s air crrier authorization in the name Sterling Airways.

They want nothing to do with Via’s old operation or branding. It’s too toxic. They want the certificate and operating procedures (other than the procedures where they don’t show up to actually operate planes). And they hope when they do launch as Sterling Airways you’ll think they have a sterling reputation.

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 InsideFlyer.com, 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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Comments

  1. While it sounds like this airline has its issues, a BBB rating is damn meaningless. Not damn near meaningless, damn meaningless. TripAdvisor has also gone to H E double hockey sticks.

    The only airlines worth flying in the USA are:
    Delta, United, Alaska, JetBlue, Southwest, JSX

    In extremely rare cases I would consider American

    The others are irrelevant.

  2. Sterling Airways was a Danish airline. They had Sud Caravelles. Later they had 737-800s. A good name.

  3. Am a proud lifetime elite member of Via Air 😉
    I live for airline brutality
    Hopefully my status transfers over 🙂

  4. @Qinxuan Pan JetBlue should be taken off that list. It’s on par with Spirit and Frontier. Between 2017-2018, Ben Baldanza has driven the quality of JetBlue into the ground with cost-cutting. Consistently late flights, frequent lost baggage (especially flying through New York airports), and general irritation and stressed flight crews is what I’ve noticed.

    People that think JetBlue has value are speaking of the JetBlue pre-2018. It’s like the Chase Sapphire Preferred. It used to be a great card with high dividends and point valuations but in the past 5 years it’s gutted of its value but still is considered a high value card by living off it’s previous reputation.

  5. Sounds like they were Via Hell. Oh well, an old joke is on how to make a small fortune running an airline:

    Start with a large one.

  6. From the title of your post, I could have sworn it was going to be about United, so I guess UA is the 2nd worst, still #1 worst in my book. Will never forget last Feb seeing I could pay $83 R/T to MIA or FLL or 29,500 miles for a Saver Award on an empty plane

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