October 20, 2007

Festival Airlines

From Cheapflights.com. Although Cheapflights does not have a very high opinion, guess what airport is right in the middle of this? If you guessed, Rockford you are right. If you guessed ORH, you are wrong.

Festival to become latest low-cost fairline

Festival Airlines is set to become the latest combatant in the fiercely competitive cheap flights market. According to local press, the new low-cost airline will announce a "relationship" with Chicago/Rockford International Airport. This is expected to feature around 12 flights a week to popular domestic vacation spots.

Festival will be a privately financed venture. Its chairman and CEO, software developer Carl George, explained to Chicago Business: "We will focus on vacation flights, not business flights, and not at busy hours. Leisure travel is the largest part, 65 per cent, of ticket sales." The newcomer plans to be operating flights in 35 cities by 2009 with tickets available for between $150 and $350.

Despite George's confidence, Festival is far from being a full-fledged low-cost airline and has yet to announce details of its first flight. The company has still to be cleared by the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) and will be operating routes on a contract basis initially.

Festival plans to be flying Boeing 757s out of Rockford, Midway International Airport, Detroit and Cleveland by the end of the year


Anonymous said...

We've heard all this and that about Festival for 2 years now.. I bet it doesn't fly, and if it does, it will fail. Prices are too high for a new airline in todays world to survive.

The best new carriers have fares under $100

Bill Randell said...


I agree... How many start-ups have we heard about that never materialize... There are many!!

In Worcester, lets not forget about DJ Air who actually wanted to make ORH their hub?? I knew these guys were dead in the water when they said that!!! ORH can be a great airport and asset to the City of Worcester, but a hub for a commercial airline??

In the end that has been what has made Allegiant Air so unique. They have actually done it andand succeeded where others never get off the ground and others fail in the first few years (Southeast, Hooters, TransMeridian and SkyValue)

Anonymous said...

Mr Nemeth interviews the president of the state senate and ne'er a word is spoken about Worc Airport?

Or maybe some words were spoken but not printed?

Or maybe some dont like to dwell on their faliures?

Or maybe some aiprort business was discussed outside of the required forum?

If only the walls of the Crown Plaze could speak.

Bill Randell said...


I was thinking the same thing but I decided to give Mr Nemeth a break. One would think based on the fact he has been so heavily involved at ORH and that MassPort will be taking over with the next three months, you would think that this would have been a question?



Anonymous said...

BTW, i HAVE CRITICIZED THE COUNCIL ABOUT FAILURE TO SET A TAX RATE BEFORE THE ELECTION.........looks like they musta listen to me............TY council..........but wait do i have to thank some one for doing their job ?

Anonymous said...

We covered planes, now let's cover trains.... article in 10/21/07 Boston Globe...

As rail business booms, giant CSX has frustrated local officials in their efforts to acquire tracks for commuter rail, bike trails
By Megan Woolhouse, Globe Staff | October 21, 2007

W hether it's high-stakes efforts to expand commuter rail service across the state or more modest plans to convert old railroad beds into bicycle trails, state and local officials say they face one common, frustrating obstacle: national railroad giant CSX.

Formally known as CSX Transportation, with headquarters in Jacksonville, Fla., the company owns more than 400 miles of track in Massachusetts. Much of it is used for freight, some of it borrowed to make way for commuter trains to Worcester and elsewhere. State officials are in their fifth year of talks with CSX aimed at clearing the way for more commuter service. Many millions of dollars, if not billions, in future economic development hang in the balance, they say.

US Representative Jim McGovern, a Worcester Democrat, called CSX a "tough group to deal with."

Officials in Natick were shocked when CSX demanded $14 million for 2 1/2 miles of abandoned track that the town hopes to convert to a recreational trail. In a sentiment that appears common among officials in smaller cities and towns who find they have little sway with the railroad corporation, Natick's former town administrator, Phil Lemnios, characterizes CSX as "fairly obstinate."

Commuter trains between Worcester and Boston are not only crowded, they are commonly subjected to delays, and the blame is often placed on CSX track work. Trains out of Worcester are consistently delayed 25-30 minutes, said Scott Farmelant, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Bay Commuter Railroad, which operates the trains for the MBTA. On Sept. 26, for example, only 12 percent of commuter trains on the Framingham-Worcester line were on time, he said.

"CSX operates how it wishes, without concern for the passengers on that line," he said. "The general manager of the T has expressed frustration . . . and it continues apace."

In a recent interview with the free commuter newspaper Metro, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority's general manager, Dan Grabauskas, accused the company of being "callous" to commuters.

"I don't think of anybody at CSX as callous," said Lisa Mancini, the company's vice president of strategic infrastructure initiatives. "We must get a fair return when we are in negotiations, but we are certainly willing to negotiate in good faith. And we try to be a good neighbor."

For years, officials in Worcester have tied the economic prospects of the city to the promise of doubling commuter rail service between there and Boston.

While still Worcester's mayor, Lieutenant Governor Timothy P. Murray made the need for expanded service a cornerstone of his campaign last year for the statewide office, calling to task what he termed the failure of the administration of then-Governor Mitt Romney to win necessary concessions from the railroad.

The state wants to buy rights of way on CSX tracks through Fall River and along the South Shore, as well as on lines from Worcester to Framingham and Allston to Chelsea (also known as Grand Junction).

The state is also negotiating the purchase of CSX property in Boston from South Hampton Street to Massport's Port of Boston to allow for a port expansion. Negotiations also involve plans to move CSX's massive rail yard in Allston westward, as Harvard University undertakes a campus expansion.

McGovern said he has been working with CSX for more than a decade, and even small concessions have been difficult. For example, CSX refused to allow MBTA consultants to look at the tracks while studying options on the Worcester line in 2004.

"Their existence is not to make sure everybody in the community is happy. They want to make money," McGovern said. "It's frustrating, but that's the way it is. People's patience has run out. . . . My patience has run out."

McGovern said he is more hopeful than ever that a deal can be reached, despite past difficulties. So, too, is Murray, although this is not the first time he has characterized negotiations as close to resolution.

Murray said he is now hopeful an agreement can be reached by the end of the year.

"As someone who takes the train, I want it done as much as everybody," he said. "It's a complicated deal with a multinational corporation, and they don't always move at the speed you would like."

"I've done a lot of these negotiations, and sometimes things move quickly, and sometimes they move very slowly," said CSX official Mancini.

McGovern, whose district runs from his hometown of Worcester across Middlesex and Norfolk counties to Fall River, said he has been briefed by state officials, and one of the only remaining sticking points is CSX's demand that the company be indemnified from all passenger liability once a sale is complete.

Neither Murray nor Mancini would disclose any numbers now on the table.

Founded in the 1980s through a merger of railroad lines serving most of the East Coast, CSX has seen its profitability in recent years exceed even the company's performance goals. Revenues jumped from $7.9 billion in 2002 to $9.6 billion last year, when shareholder dividends jumped 54 percent. According to US Securities and Exchange Commission filings, CSX paid CEO Michael J. Ward $1 million in salary, plus roughly $13 million in stock, deferred compensation, and other incentives last year.

This year, the company will spend $1.7 billion on infrastructure improvements nationally, Mancini said. Railroads are winning new business, with freight traffic expected to increase 80 percent by 2020, she said.

"We're trying to grow freight everywhere," she said. "With the growing population, there is growing consumption. It's better for us, and it's better for the country, if it moves by rail," since it takes truck traffic off the roads and saves fuel.

Former Massachusetts governor Michael S. Dukakis, a longtime rail advocate now teaching at Northeastern University, said it is important that state officials drive a hard bargain with CSX.

"There's a public interest here," he said, adding that more than a century ago, "we gave enormous amounts of land to the railroad for nothing. . . . They depended on government for much of their assistance getting on line."

Robert Weidknecht, chairman of the committee pursuing rail trails in Holliston, recalled the moment in 2005 when he heard CSX's estimated price for 6-plus miles of abandoned rail bed. CSX put the value at close to $4 million. (The nonprofit organization Trust for Public Land later valued the strip at about $2 million.)

"All of our jaws dropped," Weidknecht said.

CSX bases its appraisals on what it would cost a community to acquire enough open land to create a contiguous ribbon.

Jeffrey Ciabotti, vice president of the Rails to Trails Conservancy, a national nonprofit group that has brokered rail-trail deals, said, "I think the railroad realizes that these projects have become extremely popular around the country, and that has given them the ability to negotiate a little harder."

In Natick, Selectman Joshua Ostroff said the town is undertaking its own appraisal of the land after receiving CSX's $14 million estimate.

"We will also apply a real-world measurement, because we don't accept CSX's method for evaluation," Ostroff said.

Mancini said CSX has previously sold off rail beds, only to regret it later.

"We think we are using a system that is legitimate," she said of the appraisals. "And we are willing to talk through how we got the value."

In Sudbury, talks between town officials and CSX over a 1.5-mile stretch of abandoned rail bed have been ongoing for seven years.

Dick Williamson, a member of the town's Rail Trail Conversion Advisory Committee, said CSX trains ran through the town until 2000, when a derailment prompted the company to abandon the route.

"It's an interesting situation dealing with an outfit like CSX," Williamson said. "There's only one seller and only one buyer, so you sort of look at each other and the question comes down to: Do you want to sell it worse than we want to buy it?"

The town hasn't appraised the land yet, and neither has CSX, he said.

"Everything is pointing in only one direction," Williamson said. "It's a question of how fast we get there."

Megan Woolhouse can be reached at mwoolhouse@globe.com.

Harry Tembenis
Worcester, MA

Anonymous said...

I'll bite, is this a recent news article or is it from 2006?

I thought they had died and gone away, are they now back?

Anonymous said...

So, Festival is looking to start up again?

If so, was ORH mentioned as a possible city?

Dave from Worcester said...

I would LOVE to see 757's coming into Worcester...

Dave from Worcester said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...


Why was the Festival article repasted?

Are there new developements with their proposed start?

Bill Randell said...

Now I can not find the article.. I thought it was something current that I found on Cheapflights????

Bill Randell said...

Sorry, this is a bad post.. This press release was from last October (2006), not 2007.