It’s a sad day for Washington area frequent fliers, as Flyi, Inc, parent company of low cost carrier Independence Air announced yesterday that all operations will be ceasing scheduled flights Thursday evening, January 5.
Independence Air was controversial from it’s inception and launch 18 months ago – a rebranding of former United Airlines regional affiliate Atlantic Coast Airline as a low cost national carrier. The shutdown will affect consumers in the 37 markets served by Independence Air, as the disappearance of Independence Air’s low fares will allow competitors to raise their fares.
Independence Air held the #2 ranking in customer satisfaction among the major airlines and served over 8 million customers in its short existence. The arrival of Independence Air in 2004 gave many mid-size markets access to short-hop, low-fare flights, to popular destinations.
While consumers may have loved the airline, analyst’s did not. Independence Air’s high cost per-mile regional jet fleet, rising fuel prices, rapid expansion, and cut-throat competition from United and USAir added up to an easy to predict failure. Of course that’s little comfort to the thousands of Northern Virginia based employees who now are left looking for work in a market where most of the companies are in bankruptcy.
The demise of Independence Air also means that the emergence of Dulles as a competitor to BWI in the low cost market may be over.
Bye bye, Flyi, it was fun while it lasted…