April 5, 2008 in Nation/World

Low-cost airline pulls plug

Meghan Barr Associated Press

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Low-cost carrier Skybus Airlines is shutting down today and plans to file for bankruptcy protection next week, becoming the latest of the nation’s airlines to fail. The announcement Friday came less than a year after Skybus started at Port Columbus International Airport, offering several $10 flights. The airline’s situation worsened in recent weeks, said Skybus spokesman Bob Tenenbaum.

Fuel prices and the worsening economy combined to be insurmountable for a new carrier, said chief executive Michael Hodge.

“We deeply regret this decision, and the impact this will have on our employees and their families, our customers, our vendors and other partners, and the communities in which we have been operating,” Hodge said.

The airline makes 74 daily flights to 15 cities, Tenenbaum said. It has about 350 employees in Columbus and 100 at a second hub at Piedmont-Triad International airport in Greensboro, N.C. Employees learned of the shutdown Friday night.

The announcement adds to a string of bad news for airlines, which have been hurt by a slowing economy, high fuel prices and maintenance concerns.

ATA and Aloha Airlines both stopped flying this week after filing for bankruptcy protection. American, Southwest and Delta airlines have all had to cancel flights recently to address safety concerns about some of their aircraft.

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