Monday, September 22 2014
Melbourne, FL -- The restructuring of the airline industry and the changes to service in the past seven years have left a void that Elite Airways is intending to fill with nonstop, point-to-point service. Elite launched its first commercial airline service on September 11, 2014, between Melbourne, Fla., and Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD).
“The convenience of air transportation has evaporated since the Great Recession,” said Elite Airways CEO John Pearsall. “We want to bring it back. We want to relieve passenger hassles and point-to-point service is the way to do it. We have identified at least five markets that would be highly beneficial to Space and Treasure Coast residents, which could be served much more conveniently and efficiently with non-stop service. We intend to grow into those markets. We plan to announce additional non-stops shortly.”
Pearsall cited a single statistic illustrating the opportunity. Between 2007 and 2012, the reduction in departures between smaller communities have fallen 43.1 percent, according to a study by MIT’s International Center of Air Transportation. The number of seats available between small communities has dropped 32.6 percent.
“What that means is that it takes far too long for passengers to get to their destinations because they have to fly somewhere they don’t want to go, a hub, rather than directly to their destinations,” he said. “Serving smaller markets is a tremendous untapped opportunity for innovative companies like Elite. The Space Coast community is all about aviation and aerospace and it understands what it takes to start an airline and make it successful. Our plan is to start to grow the routes to meet demand.”
Elite Airways completed a market study on how airline service changes has impacted the Melbourne and Washington Dulles markets which is attached to this email. Current service from Melbourne to Washington, DC, takes up to six hours.
“We depart at 7 a.m. and arrive in Washington by 9 a.m.,” Pearsall explained. “That gives Washington-bound business travelers a tremendous jump start on their day. Flying through hubs, as you do today from Melbourne, you get to Washington about noon. Or passengers have to drive to Orlando, endure the cost of parking, long security lines and the tremendous hassle factor of current airline service. On Elite, travelers will not only arrive sooner and fresher but they will also enjoy a complimentary breakfast. We don’t even charge for any ticket changes. We think that’s pretty compelling.” The service will operate two days a week to start, on Mondays and Thursdays.
Some 28,000 travelers fly to Washington from the Space Coast annually. The Space Coast, with a half-million population and a quarter million in the workforce, is home to numerous companies that do business in Washington. Organizations include nine colleges and universities, Northrop Grumman, Embraer, Boeing, DRS, Harris, General Electric, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Rockwell Collins, Patrick Air Force Base, Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. It is the only quadra-modal transportation hub in the world serving land, sea, air and space. It has a high-tech workforce and is highly innovative, all aspects Elite identified as providing an excellent opportunity for success for its new service.
Success, said Pearsall, who bills his company as Melbourne’s Hometown Airline, depends on the people of the Space and Treasure Coasts served by Melbourne International Airport (MLB).
“We identified Melbourne as the place we wanted to sink our roots in 2006,” said Pearsall. “That’s what makes us different. We have moved here, and more than half of our employees come from the area. We are hiring local pilots, maintenance technicians, flight attendants and reservations agents.
Elite Airways’ foundation was its successful charter business. “We used the charter operation as a launching pad, gaining experience,” he continued. “Our clients include some of the toughest, high-standard clients out there, including the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and NASCAR. We have worked through years of certification and invested over $7 million to get our commercial 121 certificate, which means we must meet the same standards as all other airlines. We have identified an untapped niche in airline service, and we will prove that it can be successful.”
Elite Airways, with a fleet of five Bombardier CRJ 200s, will use the 50-seat aircraft between Washington and the Space/Treasure coasts with fares as little as $99 one way. Its fares are competitive with Orlando, especially when factoring in parking costs and security hassles. The company currently employs 80 but expects that number to rise to 100 by the end of the year.
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