Independence Air will drop over a quarter of its regional jet schedule next month as part of a network revamp that includes the termination of five routes and a substantial reduction in its Washington Dulles services.

The struggling low-fares start-up's largest shareholder wants it to consider selling out to a rival if a bid for regional jet flying with United Airlines is rejected.

From 31 January, Independence Air will reduce its departures from 560 a day to 410 by dropping routes and cutting services from its Washington Dulles hub. "This is all about better matching supply with demand," says the airline, which has sold four Bombardier CRJ200s to SkyWest Airlines.

Meanwhile Ed Shapiro, a partner with Boston-based investment group Par Capital, which owns a 10% stake in Independence parent Flyi, says he wants the airline to change strategic direction: "We believe the Flyi assets have value if utilised in alternative ways to today's Independence Air strategy and any strategy that can help realise that value should be fully explored, including a sale of the company."

Independence is one of 10carriers holding a request for proposals from United to assume the contract now operated by Air Wisconsin. Flyi, which reportedan $83 million net loss in the third quarter of 2004, recently warnedof a possible Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing.


Source: Flight International