RIP Independence Air (Flyi)

Discussion in 'Current Events' started by Chip NoVaMac, Jan 2, 2006.

  1. Chip NoVaMac macrumors G3

    Chip NoVaMac

    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2003
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    Northern Virginia
    #1
    After many months, the end is near for Independence Air. Their last flight will depart IIRC Buffalo at 7PM on Thursday.

    Shame to see them go. I flew them just once, to Chicago, and could not have been happier with them. I hoped that they would make it through, so I could have used them this year.

    A little background. Flyi started out about 18 months ago, after their contract with United as a regional operator went away. At the time they only operated CRJ200's (only to add Airbus 319's (IIRC) for their long distance flights to SFO, LAS, and the such).

    They started out with something like 600 flights a day IIRC. They had only one hub, Dulles (IAD). And that may have led to their early death. As well as predatory practices by better financed airlines, even those in bankruptcy.

    They were a fun, and quirky airline. The safety tape played on my Chicago flight made me pay attention, and even gave me a chuckle and smile here and there. Even walking out on the tarmac to step aboard my flight, made me wistful of days gone by. On my return flight from Chicago, the captain came on the intercom asking for two people from the first 5 rows to move to the center or rear of the plane for better balance. No one moved. About 5 minutes later he came back on the intercom and said, "I asked a few minutes ago for two passengers to move their seat assignments so we can get underway. Well, I will only ask once more. For you don't want me to get out of my seat, now do you?". Shades of cars trips with my Dad!

    Not to mention not having to fight 150 to 200 other fellow travelers to get to my seat (the CRJ200 seats only 50). My trip to Chicago was one of the most enjoyable on Flyi.

    MacDawg will understand better the human/personal impact of this passing. At this time 2700 will lose their jobs. I like to think that these 2700 stayed around because they believed in their jobs, their company, and their customers.
     
  2. clayj macrumors 604

    clayj

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    #2
    I hate what is happening to the airline industry. It's not just Independence Air... it's US Airways, Delta, American, Northwest, Continental, and every other airline that's had to declare bankruptcy in the past 20 years.

    I realize that the airlines have major problems with ossified labor unions, but the fact is that low airfares are killing the airline industry. We all LIKE having low airfares, but the airlines are all running with ZERO margin... and every time one of them fails, we ALL pay to keep them afloat through Federal airline subsidies. ALL of us, all Americans, are paying taxes to maintain low fares for those who actually do fly.

    The answer: Reregulation. ALL air travel needs to be more expensive, at least within the US, so that airlines can make a decent profit and not have to be bailed out anymore. Yes, I realize it will reduce the number of air travelers, but it will also make air travel more enjoyable, the way it was back in the 1970's and 1980's. Right now, flying on ANY US airline is no better than riding on a damn Greyhound bus.

    The death of Flyi is just one more symptom of a larger problem that continues to be untreated.
     
  3. CMillerERAU macrumors regular

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    May 12, 2003
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    Fresno, CA (Prescott, AZ for school)
    #3
    I worked for them for a short time when they switched from being Atlantic Coast Airlines to Independence Air. It took a lot of guts to do what they did. All of the employees were excited about doing something that's never been done before. Sad when a group of people like that try so hard and still fail. I'll remember my time with Flyi for the rest of my life.
     
  4. Counterfit macrumors G3

    Counterfit

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    #4
    Too bad high-speed rail really isn't feasible for most areas of the US. :(
     
  5. TheMonarch macrumors 65816

    TheMonarch

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    May 6, 2005
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    #5
    :eek: Good lord!

    No wonder they had such a hard time...


    Seriously, Airlines need to raise their prices... I mean, no airline meals anymore? WTF? (Last time I flew they did, or at least the airline I used did)


    RIP, Flyi
    :(
     
  6. bigandy macrumors G3

    bigandy

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    Murka
    #6
    i think that airlines just need to realise they're not invincible - like british airways did. CEO change, and they go from a several-hundred-million-pound-a-year-losing business to one of the most profitable airlines in the world quite rapidly.. and they're still streamiling, while building, and their prices aren't exactly out of this world..

    i say let them screw each other over, upset passengers, and generally piss and dismay the world off. they'll learn, either the easy or hard way, what's best to do.
     
  7. SharksFan22 macrumors regular

    SharksFan22

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    Dec 29, 2003
    Location:
    Bay Area, CA
    #7
    Not necessarily a fan of re-regulation per se, but I agree with you that something has to be done. I won't bore everyone with reposts of my rants on the "Aisle or Window" thread from last week, but the long and the short is that airline travel has become homogenized to mediocrity and most attempts to improve it have failed. I, for one, would pay a premium to an airline that had more business-class type amenities such as larger, more comfortable seats. Or one that had a section specially designed for families with small children.

    Unfortunately, Americans as a whole tend to gravitate towards the cheapest product available, not the best overall value -- see WalMart.
     
  8. Chip NoVaMac thread starter macrumors G3

    Chip NoVaMac

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    #8
    I think it is shameful that we have allowed the airline industry to behave they way they have. Sure deregulation has allowed for lower pricing, but at a cost. That cost is lower wages now for so many within the airline industry.

    I will side with Flyi on the aspect (if not fact) that United (the second biggest carrier out of IAD), used predatory pricing forcing Flyi to respond in kind. This forced Flyi to end up closing shop on Thursday.

    No where else in our economy, that I can think of, allows for a database of pricing like the airlines. United could announce $99 RT to SFO from IAD, or even a fare of $600 RT for the same route.

    In the first case United is losing money big time. Even while in bankruptcy. Why? Because they have the resources to do so. In the second case it may or may not represent a reasonable return on their investment. But in the end neither fare might last if other airlines don't respond in kind. In particular to price increases.

    It is a shame that we are so price driven. I am even guilty of this. For I added London to my February Iceland trip, since the airfare difference was nada/zilch/nothing.

    Since deregulation we have corpses littering the airline landscape. Eastern, Midway, Pan Am, NY Air, and Peoples Express to name a few. But the human toll is far greater. For many airline employees don't see the mid-to-high five figure or six figure incomes that the pilots make. Many make $20K to $40K a year. Pretty much the same from 20+ years ago.

    With our shrinking rail and bus interstate transportation system, it is for the benefit of all for the government to insure that air transportation remains reliable and "affordable" for the benefit of the people and the economy.

    In order to have fair competition, I think any regulation of the airlines needs to address the basic cost of doing business. For if it costs the airlines $300 to fly from IAD to SFO, then they should not be allowed to sell these flights for $200. States have already stepped in on the likes of Costco and gas prices, selling below market. So why should we not step in on the airlines?
     
  9. madoka macrumors 6502

    madoka

    Joined:
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    #9
    Hmmm. . . the other day I was arguing with a friend over whether gas should be priced at $8 a gallon. That way a lot of people wouldn't drive any more/ or less and clear up the roadways of congestion. But this argument and yours sounds horribly elitist doesn't it.
     
  10. clayj macrumors 604

    clayj

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    #10
    Two problems with what you said:

    1. Elitism has nothing to do with it. The airline industry is constantly running on a razor's edge because of deregulation, fare wars, fuel price uncertainty, and general stupidity on the part of unions, management, CEOs, the Federal government, and virtually everyone else. This is all a question of ECONOMIC VIABILITY. As it stands right now, the US airline industry is a hairsbreadth from disaster. Air travel has gotten cheap, but the cost of that is lower quality, more delays, being treated like cattle, air rage, etc. You can term this "elitism" if you like, but nowhere are the masses guaranteed cheap air travel, and certainly not with a taxpayer subsidy which we are ALL paying, whether we fly or not.

    2. The reason automobile travel works as well as it does is because things cost a reasonable amount. Gas doesn't cost 5¢ a gallon, and the oil companies/gas station chains don't expect to be bailed out because they're selling their product for less than what it's worth. And all of the roadways are funded by gas taxes, so the system is more or less self-sustaining.

    Again, my point was that regulation would increase stability in the airlines, so less of them would go out of business and we wouldn't have to bail them out all the damn time. The cost of doing that would be fewer fliers, but that would be a GOOD thing since the system is overburdened as it is.
     
  11. adk macrumors 68000

    adk

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    #11
    Although I do feel sorry for the employees if Flyi, Their company had a bad business plan from Day one. They started out as a regional/express carrier, and they unleashed tons of flights without anybody having heard of them. On top of that, they used the CRJ200, which has an extremely CASM. It's pretty much impossible to turn a profit right now flying a mainly RJ fleet, and unfortunately Flyi learned that the hard way.
     
  12. topher macrumors member

    Joined:
    May 1, 2004
    #12
    Reregulation?

    If you think of our country as a huge business, and the GDP as our one big product (the thing we sell to the rest of the world), then the concept of airline reregulation stops sounding so enticing.

    The vast majority of air travel is not for family vacations and visiting sick relatives. Airport parking garages are full on Mondays and Fridays for a reason. Business travellers have to be able to move from place to place...

    So, when you propose regulating the airlines into higher pricing structures, you're essentially proposing a tax on the profit margins of all businesses that rely on air travel.

    In one sense, I almost agree with you. Just like the Fed raises interest rates to combat inflation and keep a measured pace on economic growth, it doesn't do us as a country any good to let airlines bid each other into bankruptcy if we have to pay back the difference in taxes for subsidies.

    But, there are budget carriers out there that are making a profit. There is a formula that allows for crazy cheap air travel (Southwest), acceptable airline profitability and growth, and a fluid air travel economy. The trick is getting the old dogs to abandon the old business model, and the start-ups to start up right. The trick is not to have the government imposing artificially higher fares.
     
  13. JesseJames macrumors 6502a

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    #13
    I don't see how you can make the airlines good business models either way.
    There is so much discrepancy it's a wonder that they stay in business at all.
    It's almost like the healthcare dilemma.
    I noticed in the classifieds that an FBO was hiring aircraft fuelers and the starting pay was 9 dollars an hour. That is not a living wage. That's an existing wage. Basically for a teenager on summer break or something.
    Also, I don't see why anyone would want to be a flight attendant anymore. It's miserable work in a relatively miserable environment. The golden era of "luxury aviation" is over. Been over for a while. Welcome to the Walmart-ization of the skies.
     
  14. Studawg7 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    May 15, 2004
    Location:
    Cville, VA
    #14
    couple of things

    1. Why isn't there a luxury airline with all the comforts one might demand?

    For instance there are luxury clothing, cars, stereos etc etc. Many products and services sold have both the low end and the high end. But there is also a difference in two low cost competitors. There is Walmart and then there is Target. One is really cheap, but the other is cheap but so much better! Seems to me the major airlines are all the ultra low end and there would be a market for a higher end airline; especially with people here saying they would pay more for a flight with better service! Probably this all couldnt happen but its an interesting thought.

    2. Why is a capitalist economy like ours bailing out the airline industry? Seems to me its the only industry that ever gets bailed out when management screws up. Granted there might be a couple of other examples (Chrysler in the 80s) but seriously, when we herald our free market the way we do, its counter to ask the government for help. Let the market decide.

    Oh and I did fly last week on US Air to Dallas. There were crumbs in my seat when I boarded and the general interior of the plane wasnt great. Talk about lousy service.
     
  15. Superdrive macrumors 6502a

    Superdrive

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    #15
    Independence had a flawed business plan from day one. Using regional jets for point to point service (especially at $39 each way) is not going to make money at ANY airline. Having a hub at Dulles and not being able to finance their Airbusses didn't help matters at all. Hopefully airlines such as United will benefit from this by getting a deal on some slightly used equipment or time slots.
     
  16. Superdrive macrumors 6502a

    Superdrive

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    #16
    1. Luxury airlines have been tried. Price is what matters for people. The Concorde (luxury service) and Muse Air (luxury competition with Southwest) are just a few examples of this. Currently United offers Premium Service (economy plus seating, business, and first [no coach]) from JFK to SFO and LAX. People have no loyalty to an airline. If US Airways is $30 cheaper than everyone else, suddenly that time they lost your bag becomes a distant memory.

    2. Nobody is really bailing out the airline industry right now either. A number of airlines are in bankruptcy, while others are in the black, or preparing to emerge from bankruptcy. The government offerred loans after 9/11 to keep some from dying, but those were pretty non consequential. If the gov't were bailing out these companies, we'd still have Vanguard, Independence, and (to some degree) ATA. The airline industry is very cyclical. During the 1980s shortly after deregulation, the airlines went through tough times. The 90s were prosperous, and now in the 2000s, the companies are learning to fight in the new market. Keep in mind that the price of your ticket has gone down or held the same since the 1980s too.
     
  17. adk macrumors 68000

    adk

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    #17

    Also look at the reduction of service in the first class cabin. Some domestic flights don't even serve a meal in first on two hour flights, which shocks me. "Would you like a bag of pretzels to go with your $1200 seat?"
     

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