New start-up airline in Florida announced

By Michael Garko, In Airline News

The recent surge in announcements of start-up airlines continued this week, as a new intra-Florida airline announced it will take to the skies this spring.

Florida Express Jet Travel, Inc. d/b/a Florida Express Jet will launch low-cost flights from Orlando to Tallahassee and Fort Lauderdale beginning March 20.

Photo: Florida Express Jet

Photo: Florida Express Jet

“As a frequent traveler within the Sunshine State, I am excited to see Florida Express Jet coming to FLL to open their Florida headquarters. Their intrastate service will give travelers an option to fly within Florida’s key markets and do business around our state. This is another great indication that our economy is getting stronger and people are getting back to work,” states Chip LaMarca, Broward County Commissioner.

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Flights will be operated by Swift Air personnel aboard 150-seat (12 Business class, 138 coach) Boeing 737-400 aircraft.  Swift Air is an FAA-certified large jet operator that currently provides charter flights for major collegiate sports teams and for several professional sports franchises.

Partnering with Swift Air will allow Florida Express Jet to sidestep many of the regulatory hurdles that have dogged proposed airlines like PEOPLExpress and California Pacific Airlines.

Florida Express Jet says their aircraft will be painted in a Florida Express Jet livery that features “true Florida colors,” including “the Florida sun, water and beaches, palm trees and the state Everglades. All seats on the aircraft are soft blue leather.”

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The new intra-state carrier will be looking to take a page out of previous intra-state carriers like Air Florida, PSA Airlines and Southwest by offering a flat $69 fare for all seats, even if purchased at the last minute.  Business class seats can be purchased for $99 on a nonstop flight.  Additionally, the airline will introduce a “better coach” fare option for $89, which will include expanded legroom and drinks.

Florida Express Jet will charge a $25 fee for each checked bag “to offset ground handling and airport costs.”  However, the airline has stated that it will not charge fees for ticket changes, preferred seating, carry-on bags, snacks and soft drinks.

According to the airline’s website, the carrier plans to add service to Jacksonville, Key West, Miami and Tampa by the end of 2014.

A significant hurdle for the airline looming is that it will be facing direct competition on both routes at launch.  Silver Airways, who is part of a code-share with United Airlines, operates flights on both routes.  Additionally, Spirit Airlines operates jet service to Orlando from its Fort Lauderdale base.

Stay tuned for updates…

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