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Airline offers "Sky-Saving" fares

Skybus, a new airline will begin flights to and from Chicopee. Reminder Publications submitted photo
By G. Michael Dobbs, Managing Editor

CHICOPEE Looking for a cheap way to travel by air without having to go to Bradley or Logan International Airports? Say hello to Skybus, the brand-new air carrier that will be flying out of Chicopee and the Westover Metropolitan Airport, offering seats as low as $10 starting July 16.

There's just one catch: your initial destination will always be Columbus, Ohio.

Skybus spokesman Bob Tenenbaum explained the new company it's been in business just over a week has a different business model than other airlines: there are no connecting flights. Consumers who want to fly to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., from Chicopee, for example, would buy two tickets, the first to Columbus and then the second to Fort Lauderdale. The wait might be hours or the next day for the second flight.

According to the on-line schedules, there is one flight each day from Chicopee that leaves at 7:18 and arrives in Columbus at 9 a.m.

Tenenbaum said the airline is hoping to attract people who have more relaxed plans and who have been unable to afford to travel by air.

He said Skybus executives have been looking for "under-served" markets where there is more demand for cheap airfares than supply. They also seek out uncongested airports as well. He said the carrier might have an impact on big airlines, but that is not the company's intent. He said Skybus "intentionally does not take on bigger airlines" by using smaller airports. For example, the company's Boston airport is the Portsmouth International Airport in New Hampshire.

The company saves money on fares by keeping its planes in the air as much as possible. There are no long layovers.

The fares are not "rule based," Tenenbaum explained but are first come first served. At least 10 seats on every flight are just $10, but when those seats are sold, the price goes up. He said that a late ticket purchase on a flight from Columbus to San Francisco could be as high as $330.

Tenenbaum said that passengers carry their own bags onto the plane, but if they need to check bags the cost is $5 for two bags. Once on-board there are additional charges for food and drink. The company's web site notes there is no in-flight entertainment and advise bringing a good book.

There are also no seat assignments, so after passengers with special needs are boarded, it's first come, first serve, he added. The airline does offer a chance to "jump the line," he said, by paying an additional $10.

There is no telephone number to book seats or to get information. The company is strictly web-based.

"Westover Metropolitan Airport is delighted that Skybus has chosen it to serve the Springfield/Hartford and Western New England market," Allan Blair, president and CEO of the Westover Metropolitan Development Corporation, said.

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