Skybus Airlines became the fourth airline to fold in a week when it abruptly announced that it would cease all operations effective today. No one didn’t see this coming. But unlike the other air carriers that have expired, this one’s got all the makings of a real whodunit.
The airline would like us to believe it’s just a question of “what” killed it — circumstances beyond its control. (Sound familiar?)
Skybus struggled to overcome the combination of rising jet fuel costs and a slowing economic environment. These two issues proved to be insurmountable for a new carrier.
But that’s not all.
Then again, maybe it was just bad management. One insider had the following assessment:
While a lot had to do with fuel prices, there was an underlying issue that not many are aware of dealing with the employee group and unions. It may be common knowledge the pilots were about to vote in the union, but it was not due to their pay. It was due to working conditions.
The former Skybus manager says one executive in particular was to blame for poor morale. The executive, my source continues, had only one main concern: “Hire young pretty flight attendants with big boobs, and do not hire anyone fat.”
(My insider notes that the executive in question did not go down with the ship. He’s working with another startup airline overseas which, my source says, “he will surely lead to ruin yet again.”)
Don’t even get me started on the airline’s customer service challenges. Look, if you refuse to talk to your customers, even $10 fares can’t save you.
Of course, there might be another explanation for Skybus’ demise. Maybe the bloggers did it.
Yeah, I know. How could a few blog postings destroy an airline?
But this carrier clearly generated a lot of interest from the online community. The most-commented posting on my site is about Skybus. At last count, there were nearly 100 responses.
I’ve heard comments made by the Skybus brass that bloggers just didn’t “get” what they were trying to do. And they wasted no opportunity to criticize our efforts to make sense of it.
Bottom line: high fuel costs and a slowing economy didn’t make Skybus burn through $160 million in startup capital. It was incompetent management, a lack of vision and a pinch of paranoia that probably pushed it over the edge.