March 22, 2008

Skybus Expands in Westover (Chicopee)

Snowbird alert. Western Massachusetts residents who like to winter in Florida will have another flight option. Startup Skybus Airlines is gearing up to spread a little more sunshine on the Greater Springfield economy with the announcement that it will add two daily flights to Florida from Westover Metropolitan Airport beginning June 1.

The discount carrier will run daily round-trip flights to St. Augustine in northeast Florida and to Punta Gorda in the southwest area of the Sunshine State. The Florida destinations are in addition to a Skybus flight schedule that includes a daily round-trip flight to Greensboro, N.C., and a daily round-trip flight to Columbus, Ohio.


Anonymous said...

Hey what the heck, I would fly them... by the way, I think we can add American Pie Pizzeria to the list. How sad, especially since they won the long drawn out legal battle with Med city for their land. When they were Treat Me Donuts they probably had the best donuts in the city.

Harry Tembenis
Worcester, MA

Anonymous said...

was just up at the quiet...

what is the history of the airport..has there ever been consistent commercial service? if so what was the cause of the decline? Any ideas?

Anyone listen to Konnie last week at the City Council meeting in regards to the upcoming census and changing demographics that no one (City Councilors) touched on except to rah,rah the employees of this city (I have no issue with high salaries as long as we are getting a bang for our buck)..this may be the first time I heard a Worcester Pol publically mention this..she went away from the word "class" when first speaking but it is quite clear that the continued cycle of the productive leaving and the non-prodictive arriving is happening..and it is going to be indicated in the upcoming census

Lets face it guys and gals..if this trend continues..there will be no airport, CitySquare, Canal having any chance of getting more than one tenant with a job:>)...once folks takes decades to reverse the trend and we have not reversed the trend like other cities have and are

Anonymous said...

>>>reasonable folks can agree to agree that her comments on the salaries given in this city are quite competitive to other cities and I personally like to hear Pols comment on this stuff instead of the rah,rah that followed..she was quite upfront about the lagging city schools which I have not publically heard from a Pol and the issue of none of these high wage earners living in the city was spot on..

That speech from Konnie really made me reconsider her

Anonymous said...

Unless the Worcester legislative delegation does something, the $20 million budgeted for WESTOVER is the end of ORH. Plain and simple.

I hope that anyone who cares about ORH will make sure that it remains Massachusetts' secondary passenger airport. That is unlikely to happen if WESTOVER gets the state money it needs to expand and cannibalize ORH. Talk about a waste of money and total duplication.

Bill Randell said...


Can you tell me a little more about the $20 million budgeted for Westover?


Anonymous said...

Hard to believe that Westover is showing signs of growing.........given that west of I-91 is all rural and Holyoke & Pittsfield arent exactly bursting at the seams with the type of people who have the discretionary income to fly.

Paulie, what initailly killed Worc Airport was Reagan de-regulation (which BTW I agree with)back in the 80's. For years the regulators forced commercail air service on the smaller secondary airports. They told carriers that, for example, if you want to serve NYC and Miami, then you have to serve Worc, too. Kinda like a dealers used car auction where they sell a lot (group) of used cars. There maybe 15 decent cars in the lot and two old junks..........but teh buyer has to take them all as a lot. Same thing happened with LTL (less than truckload) general freight carriers in the 80's. I can count a dozen LTL carriers that were out on Rte 20 in Worc/Shrews back in the day. They are all long gone due to deregulation of the LTL freight trucking industry that started under Reagan.

McLean, St Johnsbury, Lombard Brothers, Red Star Express (merged w/Roadway), Sanborn Express, Carolina Freight (merged?), Bermans, Kenmore, Normands City Truck, Interstate, Akers...all toast as result of re-reg.......a few other have steppedd up to the plate.....

Anonymous said...

Skybus is offically in trouble. They have screwed up their revenue model by choosing poor focus cities (see my other posts about that) and fuel is simply too high. Their biggest problem, however, is that they are too small for any politican to really stick their neck out for (except for Columbus poiticans of course who cant do much). If fuel is >$90 12 months from now...then Skybus will go bye-bye.

Sad, but true...b/c this kind of model is just what the American consumer needs. We pay too much for airfares in this country b/c gov't props up inefficient, ancient carriers.

Anonymous said...

(forget to add that the above post was wirtten by Roger)

Anonymous said...

Anonymous, I would think that all airlines are up against the same problem with fuel, so can you really use this as an excuse for failure..............unless some airlines have successfully hedged their fuel expenses in the commodity futures market??.....and even so hedging costs money, too and is a real speculative/guessing game...... where it's easy to guess wrong as well as right

e.g. I lock in fuel prices at todays levels for delivery 9 months from now............and then the price of fuel drops 12% over those nine months.......i guessed wrong and it's going to cost me.......maybe even bankrupt me given that Allegiants COE says fuel is 60%(?) of expenses for airlines

Could you tell us Which inefficient airlines has the gov't propped up and how?

Anonymous said...

Post 9/11 the government setup an airline financing/bail out program. US Airways (actually America West) would not be here today without it. But that is the small stuff when compared with the back room deals. When the domino of bktcys occured (UA, NW, DL) key members of government made the myth of the claim tha a lack of back-fill of capacity would lead to economic gloom an apparent reality (Oberstar on behalf of NW and Hastert on behalf of UA among others). Thus as a unit if one went 7, they all would and the sky would fall on the economy. That is why, among other reasons, they fell like dominoes into 11. That threat sent a signal to bankers that DIP was safer than one might usually think and thus they had their choice of DIP providers. Skybus simply doesnt carry that weight (neither does Maxjet as my colleagues there learned painfully), and thus are subject to the trappings of the market more than the legacy carriers.

Bill Randell said...

For what it is worth, how good is Roger.

Roger, why did Allegiant leave ORH??

Anonymous said...

Roger, please help me here w/ terminology.....back fill capacity?????................

D.I.P.??? ........some kind of insured provider of money??


Anonymous said...

"Back fill of capacity" speaks to the fact that DL is by far the largest facilitator of inter-state commerce in the Southeast U.S. through its ATL hub (and also significant ops elsewhere...CVG, SLC, JFK, etc. and all the hub and spoke connections that go with it). UA and NW are also massive in their role in facilitating a functioning economy. So if their lift (i.e. millions of seats they sell to the public) goes away, who is going to be there the next day to continue to fuel the economy? Nobody in the very short term. It would take at least 6-12 months for CO, US, AA, etc. to take on their planes, re-hire everybody, shift contracts, etc. That 6-12 months is an eternity when it comes to the health of our economy when we're talking about 30%+ of our airline capacity.

DIP: Debtor-in-possesion financing. In exchange for providing capital for the company to operate during bktcy, banks get significant chunks of equity or other senior stakes in the company when it emerges from bktcy (AMEX put in $ to protect and to get a more lucrative Membership Reward deal with DL). Thus they are making the bet with their $ that the company will be able to survive and turn it around such that their investment dollars provide a suitable return. If there are winks and nods that the company is not as likely to go 7 "for the good of the economy" or whatever...then the risk in the investment decreases and the banks line up for the DIP.


PS Thanks for the kind words Bill and thanks for this do a great job with it.

Anonymous said...

Regarding Allegiant...
I dont know for sure. Keep in mind, though, that they look at things differently than a hub and spoke carrier or an LCC. Each of the three has different business models (and sub-models) and, thus, different drivers of profitability. Unusual drivers of airport choices for Allegiant besides pax/dept vs. some of the other models is its day-of-week scheduling, airport/local incentives, airport costs, an MD80's range, the ability to reach SFB, PIE and LAS is ideal from its spokes, etc.


Anonymous said...

For the life of me there are some things I'll never understand. The school committee wants to look into sending the students on overseas trips and the city law dept is evidently opposed to it due to liabilty issues. I may be repeating myself, but isnt CSX railroad making similar arguments re: expanded commuter rail service? Talk about the kettle calling the pot black.

We have underperforming schools and the school dept claims they need $5M more dollars for next year and these committee members are worried about overseas trips for the kids, that will be paid for by fundraisers Translation: Worc. Taxpayers making donations rather than having their taxes raised to pay for these junketts. That's a lot of cupcakes.

And even if parents are suppose dto pay for their own kids .......what happens when 40% of the kids in the class have parents who cannot afford it? Do we leave them behind. Nope. The schools will end up paying for it, other wise Johnnies self esteem will be permanently injured and he'll turn into one of Paulie's Pajama People, wandering aimlessly on treeless Chadler St! Think of the school paying for the 40% who cannot pay as an offshoot of No Child Left Behind. Time to send this idea packing. Let's tackle the real issues!

Anonymous said...

Springfield has four TV stations (ABC, CBS, NBC, and FOX). This is from WHSM (CBS 3). Keep in mind that Westover already got $3 million earlier this year.

There is also a video here:

Westover Metropolitan Airport in Chicopee may be spreading its wings, if a transportation bond bill passes. State Representative Joseph Wagner is pushing for $15 million in funding to go toward expansion of the airport.

"This airport serves as a gateway to this region and surrounding regions and provides economic opportunity," said Representative Wagner. He says this investment is part of the larger mission to attract more passenger airlines to Westover. "We sort of prime the pump, and private industry takes it and runs with it at that point. So $15 million will yield a great return if targeted in the right areas."

Westover's passenger terminal was last remodeled 20 years ago. Airport officials say they have outgrown the building, and they already know what they would use the funding for. "We would build a new passenger terminal which would be 50,000 to 60,000 square feet. We would make air side ramp area improvements so air crafts could more easily maneuver around the passenger terminal. There would also be auto parking and roadway improvements," said Allan Blair, the President and CEO of Westover Metropolitan Development Corp. Blair says all of the improvements would help the airport grow its Skybus service, as well as other potential airlines.

The House and Senate need to pass the bill before sending it to Governor Patrick for approval. Representative Wagner says this should happen in three weeks.

Anonymous said...

Westover seems to following the Worc Airport Model. Build a terminal.........and hope the passengers show up.............better watch out what they wish for esp. if their $15M is debt funding as opposed to an out right grant.

Anonymous said...

Westover seems to following the Worc Airport Model. Build a terminal.........and hope the passengers show up.............better watch out what they wish for esp. if their $15M is debt funding as opposed to an out right grant.

Anonymous said...

I agree completely with Jahn. The idea of funding Westover when its only airline service was from 1987-1988 and June to the present is nuts. This is the kind of utter waste that makes MA look bad.

Would a mall invest $20 million into a property that only had tenants for two out of the last 21 years? The "build it and they will come" strategy is what led to the ORH debacle. After this Westover terminal is built it will need to be maintained. Who is going to pay for that? Look in the mirror.

If Worcester cannot support a single airline, how does it make sense that a small city like Chicopee could do it? Even worse, the only airline at Westover is Skybus -- which is unproven at best and likely on shaky ground. You don't invest all this money to "show Skybus that we're serious".

If you also think this plan is awful, then contact the following. Bill might want to also repost this into a main thread.

House Staff:
Room 134
State House
Boston, MA 02133 House Staff Telephone: (617) 722-2400

Senate Staff
: Room 208
State House
Boston, MA 02133 Senate Staff Telephone: (617) 722-1604

Anonymous said...

More about this Westover nonsense. We have a beautiful terminal sitting unused and the state wants to hand this money over for another terminal that may also end up empty?

Imagine how much smarter it is to leverage the existing ORH facility and use a FRACTION of that $15 to bring service to Worcester. It is plenty close enough to Western Mass and would actually help out Logan.

Airport in line for $15 million
Thursday, March 20, 2008


CHICOPEE - Westover Metropolitan Airport is in line to receive $15 million for infrastructure improvements to support the expansion of its passenger air service.

State Rep. Joseph F. Wagner, D-Chicopee, announced yesterday that $15 million was recently added to the Joint Transportation Committee's proposed $4.8 billion transportation bond bill. The House and Senate need to pass the bill before sending it to the governor's desk for final approval, which should happen within three weeks, Wagner said.

"There's not a doubt in my mind that it will find its way to the governor's desk," said Wagner, who co-chairs the Transportation Committee.

The airport, which is owned by Westover Metropolitan Development Corp., introduced its first regular passenger service in almost two decades in July when Skybus Airlines debuted there. The discount airline, based in Columbus, Ohio, announced this week that it will be adding two daily flights to Florida on June 1. There are also flights to Columbus and Greensboro, N.C.

"I think it's (the bonding) an appropriate time given there's been the establishment of passenger service at Westover," Wagner said. "We've seen an expansion of Skybus in a very short period of time."

Pogo Jet Inc. has also announced that it wants to offer charter jet service at Westover beginning next year. The company has established its base at the airport.

"It's very good news," said Allan W. Blair, chief executive office and president of Westover Metropolitan Development Corp., of the $15 million.

Blair said he's working on a scope of infrastructure improvements needed at the airport, which includes a new terminal at a cost of between $7 million and $9 million. Ramp improvements and new parking lots, access roads and signage are also on the list. The terminal was last renovated in 1988. While the airport does comply with post Sept. 11, 2001, security requirements, security arrangements should also be improved, Blair added.

"I believe, given the level of activity we're seeing, the only way to handle the traffic is a new building," Blair said. "These buildings are portals for those who enter our market, and we want it to be a pleasant experience for them."

Both Blair and Mayor Michael D. Bissonnette praised Wagner for including the money in the bond package. Bissonnette said state Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Daniel O'Connell is scheduled to visit the airport today to review the facility.

"We're very grateful for the administration's support of this and the chairman's efforts to get it into the transportation bond bill," Bissonnette said. "It's a clear signal to Skybus we support their continued expansion at Westover."

Anonymous said...

Go for it Westover. Don't be dragged down by Worcester's failings.

Use the opportunity and use itto go forward.

Worcester Airport is a glorified Aero Club being subsidized by the taxpayers...and that's the way they like it!!!