Where angels fear to tread….Skybus lasted less than a year exploiting Columbus, Ohio, as an underserved market with high fares. Wait a moment…isn’t that the Southwest mantra? And wait another moment…doesn’t Southwest already serve Columbus? Yes, on both counts. And didn’t JetBlue try – and pulled out. So why then is AirTran taking on Columbus? Well, the carrier is linking Columbus, the state capital, with warm weather points- Orlando and Fort Myers, Fla., as well as with its Atlanta Hartsfield/Jackson hub. The two Florida points we suspect have a brighter future than the hub. And Skybus used to serve Punta Gorda, Fla, about 40 miles from Fort Myers. AirTran must believe that there’s a strong enough local market that it won’t cannibalize its long-standing and quite successful service at Akron/Canton (110 miles away)or at Dayton (65 Miles away). Eat your heart out, Cleveland (125 miles away) Hopkins!
And then there’s another cold-weather state capital, Harrisburg, Pa., where AirTran also announced new service, a single daily roundtrip. Harrisburg has been suffering for some time as US Airways and Northwest and Delta all cut back, but this new Orlando service is again a warm-weather delight. And for the state capital, it is very welcome news.