Skybus grounded for good

Skybus, the no-frills airline headquartered in my home town of Columbus, announced yesterday it was folding its wings and quitting. The airline has discontinued all flights, stranding passengers who were due return trips from their outbound flight, and declared bankrupcy.

The move, which the airline attributed to rising fuel costs, gives credence to the naysayers who had derided the company's model from the onset. With only a few planes, (five at launch), the airline attempted to use unrealistically tight turnaround times to service an ambitious national flight schedule.

Intially, Skybus was best known for its policy of reserving at least ten spots on each flight to sell for $10 each. Later, it gained notoriety as the airline that could not be contacted by telephone, refusing to deal with customer service problems except by e-mail. When it ran into maintenance problems with a couple of jets on the same day recently and had to cancel a number of flights, its customer non-service brought a great deal of negative press.

I'm sad to lose the many direct flights Skybus offered, but this and the earlier folding of ATA demonstrates how difficult it is to play in this high stakes, low rewards industry. At the moment, I just want an airline I can count on. The only one I can think of is the U.S. Air Force.

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