Suwanee-based airline pulls out of Toledo 1 month after starting service

4:40 PM, Jun 26, 2012   |    comments
Aircraft used by Vision Airlines (USA Today)
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ATLANTA -- Suwanee, Ga.-based bargain air carrier Vision Airlines is pulling out of Ohio's Toledo Express Airport less than one month after it began flying there.

The carrier, which launched its Toledo-Myrtle Beach, S.C., service on June 1, says its last flight from Toledo will be June 29. Poor sales were cited in discontinuing the route, The Associated Press reports.

"Despite the port authority's efforts to support this service -- through waiving off all airport fees, including landing fees and terminal use fees, and an aggressive advertising and marketing campaign -- the traveling public did not support the route to the level necessary to maintain this air service," the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority says in a statement quoted by The Blade of Toledo.

Port authority spokeswoman Holly Kemler says the agency spent about $36,000 in advertising to promote the new service.

As you might expect, Vision's abrupt pullout left some Toledo airport officials scratching their heads.

"This was shocking to us," Jerry Chabler, chairman of the port authority board of directors' airport committee, tells theBlade. "It was almost like the movie 'Runaway Bride' -- we've been jilted. I don't think Vision gave it enough time, only a month."

Still, he says local travelers need "to step up to the plate" and book flights on Toledo's carriers if they want airline service to remain viable in Toledo.

Airlines have sharply curtailed Toledo flights during the past decade, with many carriers pulling out altogether. Vision's departure leaves Toledo with just two commercial carriers: American and Allegiant. American's American Eagle unit offers four daily round-trips to Chicago O'Hare while Allegiant offers a handful of weekly flights between Toledo and airports in Florida.

Most recently, Toledo was among the dozens of airports affected by the sudden shutdown of leisure outfit Direct Air.

And it was in 2009 that Toledo was to host the inaugural flight of start-up carrier JetAmerica, only to have that airline shut down a month before its schedule first flight.

That continued an already bad run for the northwest Ohio airport, which already had lost six big airlines between 2000 and 2008.

Of course, Vision Airlines also brings its own shaky business model to this story.

Just last year, Vision announced what it billed as one of the largest expansions in modern airline history when it added 20 new destinations in January 2011.

The carrier touted fares as low as $49 each way. In May 2011, Vision said it was establishing a new connecting hub at the Northwest Florida Regional Airport near Destin. By May 2012, Vision had dropped not only Destin, but nearly all of its regularly scheduled routes.

The carrier briefly tried service from the Bahamas, but that also appeared to be a losing venture for the company. Vision resurfaced again this summer with a handful of new routes, including several of Direct Air's dropped routes to Myrtle Beach.

One of those was Toledo, which lasted all of 28 days.

(USA Today)

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