If you remember the 1980s and the business environment of that time, the PEOPLExpress name should be a familiar one to you. PEOPLExpress was a discount air carrier headquartered in Newark, NJ, that began flying in 1981 and was absorbed by Continental Airlines six years later.
PEOPLExpress Returns to Service
Although not the originator of no-frills flying, the original PEOPLExpress took it to its highest level, utilizing some 75 aircraft to 50 destinations at its peak. When PEOPLExpress folded discount flying continued, but the airline’s unique approach ended with it. That approach included onboard payments, a practice never copied by its competitors before or since then.
The new PEOPLExpress shares the original airline’s name, but it has a number of differences. For one, it is a subsidiary of Vision Airlines, a Nevada-based airline best known for charter and a limited number of scheduled flights. The idea for a new PEOPLExpress was hatched in Feb. 2012, but the first flight did not take place until this past Monday.
Another difference for the new airline is that it is based in Newport News, Virginia, not Newark. Local Newport News businesses and private investors are behind the latest iteration of PEOPLExpress, with that city operating as its initial hub.
The revived airline is flying to Pittsburgh, Newark and Boston and will follow up with flights to West Palm Beach and St. Petersburg in Florida, Atlanta and New Orleans later this summer. Introductory fares will start as low as $76, far above the $19 off-peak rates that the original airline offered back in the 1980s. Yet, with inflation and high rule prices, today’s rates are competitive and could very well help the new PEOPLExpress to gain a following.
“From the very beginning, PEOPLExpress™ was designed to provide a fun, creative and innovative approach to air travel to dispel the myth that low air fares have to mean low service or an impersonal experience,” said Jeff Erickson, a long-time airline executive on behalf of the carrier. “PEOPLExpress™ is restoring the concepts of respect, value and excitement to the air travel experience.”
Erickson went on to note how airline travel is no longer the enjoyable experience that it once was for many people. The air carrier looked at markets that are underserved from Newport News and has sought to provide a “great experience at a great price.”
New Boeing Aircraft
Unlike the earlier business model that used retired and reconfigured aircraft from its competitors, including Lufthansa, the new PEOPLExpress will have a fleet of new aircraft to offer, specifically three Boeing 737-400 jets, configured to hold 150 passengers.
PEOPLExpress will offer a standard no-frills model, allowing customers to add amenities, as desired. Its checked bag fees come in lower than its competitors, with carry-on bags charged $25 per bag per leg. Complimentary snacks are included; beverages may be purchased.
More Jobs to Follow
The Newport News economy receives an immediate boost as 100 jobs were created to serve the new airline. The company expects to double that number by the end of the summer. Those opportunities include administrative, customer service, finance and accounting, airport operations and technical operations openings.
People interested in learning more can call the airline’s toll-free phone number, (844) 435-9739 or (844-4FLYPEX). A website also provides information and offers online flight booking.