Friday, April 04, 2008

Skybus Airlines folds

Skybus logoBreaking News: Skybus Airlines is ceasing all operations as of tomorrow, April 5, 2008. This is the fourth U.S.-based air carrier to shut down this week!

Skybus wasn't with us very long. The low-cost carrier, based in Columbus, OH, began flying in May of 2007 -- less than a year ago.

An announcement on the Skybus website says:
Skybus struggled to overcome the combination of rising jet fuel costs and a slowing economic environment. These two issues proved to be insurmountable for a new carrier.

We deeply regret the impact this decision will have on our employees and their families, customers, vendors, suppliers, airport officials and others in the cities in which we have operated. Our financial condition is such that our Board of Directors felt it had no choice but to cease operations.
Boom! Another one gone. The 450 Skybus employees -- pilots, flight attendants and ground staff -- are suddenly out of work, with virtually no notice.

One could say that there were clues that hinted at a coming Skybus bust. In an effort to reduce operating costs, the airline recently had discontinued some routes and had cut the number of flights on remaining routes. Earlier, Skybus had raised fees for checked bags, and for priority boarding by passengers.

Meanwhile, Skybus pilots had been in the process of unionizing. Less than a month ago, it had been reported that more than 80 percent of Skybus pilots were in favor of voting to join the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT).

Then less than two weeks ago, on March 24, Skybus CEO Bill Diffenderffer abruptly resigned from the company. He was replaced by Skybus chief financial officer, Mike Hodge. During the past week, another Skybus executive, Bud Sittig, left as well. Mr. Sittig had been vice president of operations for Skybus. When he left, no replacement was named.

Skybus is expected to file for bankruptcy on Monday, April 7, 2008.