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Start-up Skybus secures more cash

Low-fares start-up Skybus is closer to launch after securing another $72.7 million in capital, making it one of the best financed start-ups in US history.

With the addition of funds from private equity fund Tiger Partners, the Columbus-based carrier has more than $160 million. This is just under the $177 million Virgin America has secured in pre-launch financing and is more than the $130 million that JetBlue, which previously was the best financed start-up in US history, secured before its launch.

One of Tiger's managers, Michael Hodge, has joined Skybus as chief financial officer. Another Skybus backer, Wall Street giant Morgan Stanley, says other big-name investors, including mutual-funds conglomerate Fidelity, have put money in the venture.

Skybus expects final FAA approval within two months. It has received two leased Airbus A319s and another two are due by June. Last year it ordered up to 65 A319s with deliveries from 2008.

Skybus has yet to start selling tickets or reveal its first destinations. But it did unveil a plan to paint its aircraft with advertisements. One aircraft will run a promotion for Nationwide Insurance, one of several Columbus-based companies which have invested in the airline. Columbus is also providing Skybus with $57 million in incentives.

Skybus expects final FAA approval within two months




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