PEOPLExpress Is The New Airline Coming To Newport News

15 Feb

The employee-owned company has completed one round of capitalization and a second round is being managed by New York investment firm W.R. Hambrecht and Co., Morisi said.

After the announcement, Christine DeZarn, a former PEOPLExpress employee who is now the new company’s vice president and chief marketing officer, said a public stock offering will be made at a later date, but she didn’t know when that would occur.

Officials with the Peninsula airport and a regional economic development entity that sometimes provides revenue guaranties to new airlines that locate in Newport News have said the company has sought no publicly funded incentives or subsidies.

Morisi said during the announcement that Newport News was chosen for the company’s headquarters because the city is “conveniently located between Richmond and North Carolina. We believe we can stimulate a significant market here.”

In an effort to re-invent PEOPLExpress, DeZarn said, management level employees were sought from within the airline industry but also from areas — like hospitality — that fall outside its ranks.

“We looked for a mix of ideas, people that bring skills and tactics that maybe break out of the industry standard,” she said. “A lot of assumptions are made when an industry inbreeds too much and stagnates.”

‘Make flying fun again’

PEOPLExpress was initially born about 30 years ago during a time when the country was economically stressed and the airline industry was wrought by “cumbersome connections” and high fares, Morisi noted during his introductory remarks Monday.

The airline found success back then by servicing secondary markets with a low-fare option, he said, adding that the current intention is to return to those roots because “leisure travel is almost fare prohibitive.”

Morisi said the new PEOPLExpress would “make flying fun again” by questioning industry-accepted practices and finding ways to serve customers better while operating in a tight, cost-controlled environment with an efficient management structure.

Filling a gap

Ken Spirito, executive director at the airport in Newport News, said it has been a long time since the airport has served Pittsburgh. The new airline’s Newark and Providence flights will also help fill a route gap when AirTran Airways ceases its operations in March, he said. The AirTran routes currently include destinations in Boston, New York, Atlanta and Orlando.

“I think Boston is in our future,” he added, noting the same about expansions into more Florida destinations and other states.

In addition, headquartering the airline on the Peninsula will stimulate the local economy by filling a 15,000 square foot office space with employees who will shop, buy cars and houses, Spirito said.

“We believe the time is right to start this airline,” Morisi said.

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“This was an iconic airline. Somewhere along the way the niche got lost,” he said. “We intend to stay focused on that… We’re going to build that culture again. PEOPLExpress was a household name back then and we’re going to do that again right here in Newport News.”

Copyright 2012 – Daily Press, Newport News, Va.

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http://www.aviationpros.com/news/10629080/peoplexpress-is-the-new-airline-coming-to-newport-news

 

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