PEOPLExpress rises again. A new airline has taken up the name of the low-cost air travel pioneer that operated from 1981 to 1987, offering fares as low as $19. Pending government regulatory approval and securing of financing, the new PEOPLExpress, based in Newport News, Va., hopes to begin flying this summer with destinations that include Providence, Pittsburgh, Newark, N.J., and West Palm Beach, Fla.
Why those cities? The carrier's strategy involves seeking out markets that are underserved or those that have lost service due to industry consolidation. Major carriers have been trimming schedules and pulling out of smaller, less profitable markets since the recession.
The carrier hopes to keep costs low by hiring a nonunion work force and flying only Boeing 737s, which will help control maintenance costs as mechanics will only have to work on and supply parts for a single type of plane.
Much of the new PEOPLExpress's playbook comes from the original carrier and is also reminiscent of Southwest Airlines' operations. In fact, chief operating officer Michael Morisi, as well as several members of the board, worked at the original airline.
In interviews, Morisi says that the experience of PEOPLExpress veterans should help the new venture avoid pitfalls that brought about the downfall of its predecessor -- primarily problems brought about by quick expansion.