And I thought Baltia would be first out the gate… guess not.
This came across my e-mail this morning:
As reported in Florida Today….but more comprehensive.
NATIONAL NEWS RELEASE
ELITE AIRWAYS, AMERICA’S NEWEST AIRLINE, PREPARES FOR TAKE-OFF
CARRIER FOCUSES ON MELBOURNE FLORIDA FLIGHTS FROM NEW ENGLAND
PLANS TO BE PART OF NEW SPACE ERA BY BRINGING JOBS TO
SPECIAL DULLES & HUNTSVILLE NASA-RELATED ROUTES
WILL COMPETE WITH MCO, PBI & SFB
MELBOURNE, FL – November 06, 2012 – Elite Airways, the nation’s newest start-up airline, has just received part 121 air carrier certification from the Federal Aviation Administration and is now identifying departure airports convenient for leisure travelers to Florida’s Space Coast and for business travelers headed to the Kennedy Space Center that are involved in the privatization of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
Based at Portland International Airport, Maine, Elite Airways plans to set-up southern flight operations at Melbourne International Airport, Florida. It is conveniently located within close proximity to the Kennedy Space Center, the white sandy beaches and resorts of Florida’s Space and Treasure Coasts, Port Canaveral cruise ship terminal and is an hour drive to Disney World and other Orlando-area theme parks.
Melbourne is Convenient Alternative to Orlando and Palm Beach
“Melbourne is a fast, convenient alternative to crowded Orlando International Airport, where arriving passengers spend more than an hour in the terminal before they ever get to the rental car lots,” says Elite Airways President John Pearsall. “Passengers arriving in Melbourne deplane, claim their baggage, pick-up their rental cars and, in a matter of minutes, can be at NASA, at the cruise ship port, on the beach or on their way to central Florida’s theme parks in far less time than it takes for people passing through Orlando International.”
Melbourne International is also located 114 miles north of Palm Beach International Airport, along busy Interstate 95. Therefore, Elite Airways will also attempt to lure passengers from the area between the two terminals. They include Fort Pierce, Port Saint Lucie and Vero Beach.
New England to Florida Flights
Elite Airways seeks to develop schedules from cities that currently do not offer affordable non-stop service to Florida, according to Pearsall.
The airline says it is examining routes from several underserved New England airports to Melbourne, FL. They include Portland International Airport, ME; Portsmouth International Airport, NH; Worcester Regional Airport, MA and possibly from upstate New York cities, including Niagara Falls and Plattsburgh.
“The airport at Niagara Falls is a quick drive from Buffalo and Toronto, Canada. Plattsburgh services both Burlington, VT and Montreal, Canada,” explains Pearsall. “Canadians driving and taking-off from New York State avoid long lines at airport customs and immigration check points and they save hundreds of dollars on domestic airfares opposed to heavily taxed international airfares.”
Pearsall emphasizes that non-stop jet flights avert connections through cities such as Atlanta and Charlotte where passengers often endure three to five hour layovers on flights to Melbourne or Orlando, which makes the travel time as long as nine hours, opposed to non-stop service that streamlines the travel time to three or four hours from northern U.S. cities.
New Space Era Routes
“In addition to leisure travel, Elite Airways is also working with Melbourne Airport officials on developing convenient non-stop flight service for the new generation of aerospace workers involved in the privatization of NASA,” says Bryan Glazer, President of JetPlane Public Relations of New York and Palm Beach, which represents Elite Airways. The media relations firm has created and executed start-up media relations campaigns for JetBlue, Virgin, Vision and several other airlines.
“Melbourne officials have conveyed to Elite Airways that they seek routes from metropolitan Washington, DC’s Dulles International Airport and Huntsville International Airport, Alabama,” says Glazer. “The DC area is headquarters to obvious, relevant government agencies, including the Goddard Space Flight Center and major aerospace technology companies. Huntsville, AL is home to the Marshall Space Flight Center.”
Elite Airways says it will provide discounts to area aerospace companies whose employees currently fly to Orlando and then drive to Melbourne or make connections in hub cities on Melbourne-bound flights.
Glazer adds, “Elite Airways has the propensity of playing a major role in the revitalization of Brevard County where 9,000 people lost their jobs the day NASA ended the shuttle program on July 8, 2011.”
Pearsall explains, “Elite Airways anticipates making as many as 100 new hires in the Melbourne area and dozens more in our departure cities, during 2013.” He says, “The jobs range from counter and gate agents to reservations systems operators and maintenance crews.”
According to Pearsall, Elite Airways will be basing two of its 50 seat Bombardier Canadair Regional Jets at Melbourne International in mid-December. The company anticipates expanding its fleet to include 150 seat Boeing 737 or Airbus A-319 jetliners. “We are currently speaking to several aircraft manufacturers,” says Pearsall.
Since the company obtained its FAA certification, about a month ago, it has started contract charter flights for several National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) sports teams. Elite Airways expects to start its Melbourne, Florida commercial passenger service in early 2013, according to Pearsall.
About John Pearsall
John Pearsall has been in the domestic and international aviation business for more than 30 years. He is a certified Boeing 757 and 767 jetliner capitan that has held management positions at Phoenix-based America West Airlines, Las Vegas-based National Airlines and was president of Las Vegas-based Primaris Airlines. He has led several airline start-up teams and has raised millions of dollars in capital for several carriers.
Pearsall’s charter carrier experience has led to him establishing client relationships with major sports teams, tour operators and The White House Press Corps.
Pearsall maintains residences in metropolitan Portland, Maine and Melbourne, Florida.
So why am I posting this? Well, because it involves Melbourne, Florida. Melbourne is a great little airport (stressing LITTLE) that serves a niche part of Florida called the Space Coast, and a bit south of there is the growing Treasure Coast. MLB is victim of overcapacity at Orlando and low fares… unfortunately many people in the Titusville – Port St. Lucie corridor ARE price sensitive and are used to driving 90 minutes to the nearest airport. Melbourne DOES have NASA and Air Force business, but I’m just not sure how much. In my past life, I pestered the owner of Florida Coastal Airlines (my employer) to start Melbourne to Ft. Lauderdale service and we did OK there. The flight times were important to the community but due to aircraft availability & routing, we didn’t do as well as we could have on the route. But there is SOME market to build there, I’m just not sure that using 50 seat Canadair RJs are the answer, especially with limited flights and insanely cheap fares just up the road at MCO. You need $100 a seat (per hour of flight) and an 80% load factor to make it work using these 50 seat jets… and I just don’t see the Brevard/Indian River region paying that.
I don’t see anything on the docket in terms of scheduled authority, so I think the FAA Part 121 status is a bit, well, fast. On the other hand, California Pacific has DOT authority, but not FAA authority yet.
Its good to see another airline coming out of the woodwork, but will they do it right, and can they develop a model that will make money. That remains to be seen.
So here’s what we have pending as new scheduled airlines:
- California Pacific
- Surf Air
- Boutique Air
- People Express
- Twin Air Calypso
(Key Lime Air recently obtained scheduled authority, and I think they’re only doing a few flights out of Colorado)