New Air, which plans to launch low-fare, high-frequency domestic services from New York's Kennedy Airport in January 2000, aims to emulate low-cost operator Southwest Airlines to survive in the market.

In its application to the US Department of Transportation, privately owned New Air says it aims to achieve operating costs "comparable to or even lower than those of industry leader Southwest", whose operating cost per available seat mile is just 7.39c.

In April, New Air concluded a deal for up to 75 Airbus A320 family aircraft, of which 25 are firm. The deal includes the lease of seven A320s to allow New Air to begin services in January, because the 25 aircraft on firm order are scheduled to arrive from June 2000 and continue for four years. The 50 additional A320s will be delivered between 2003 and 2007.

New Air has applied for 75 new-entrant slots at the congested New York airport, but it has yet to specify where it plans to fly. It has, however, listed 44 potential destinations, including Chicago, Boston and Washington DC. New Air will start services with two A320s in a 162-seat, all-economy configuration, rising to 11 aircraft within a year. The carrier will be headed by chief executive David Neeleman, who was founder of Morris Air (sold to Southwest in 1993), and went on to launch Calgary-based WestJet.

Michael Lazarus, who will chair New Air's board, is co-founder and managing partner of Weston Presidio Capital, one of New Air's major investors.

The New Air investment group includes many of the original Morris Air investors. The president and chief operating officer will be Dave Barger, who was a vice-president with Continental Airlines.

Source: Flight International