Skybus Airline Reportedly Picks Greensboro as New Base

Columbus, Ohio-base airline could announce new operation at Piedmont Triad International Airport, Greensboro newspaper says.

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GREENSBORO, N.C. — Gov. Mike Easley was expected to announce Monday that Skybus, a discount airline based in Columbus, Ohio, will locate a new base at Piedmont Triad International Airport.

The move would create approximately 400 jobs.

Skybus is known for offering 10 seats or more on flights for $10 each.

Easley’s office disclosed Sunday that the governor will be at the airport for a “major economic development” announcement.

The News & Record newspaper in Greensboro reported Monday morning that the announcement apparently is about Skybus. Easley’s office and Skybus declined comment, the newspaper said.

State and local officials reportedly have already agreed on an incentive package to land Skybus, the paper added.

The airline reportedly also considered Richmond, Va., for the base. However, Virginia officials denied they offered Skybus as much as $50 million in incentives for the operation, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

According to the Richmond report, the Skybus operation package will include up to 22 flights per day.

Should Skybus pick the Piedmont, it would be the third major air industry win for the area in recent years. FedEx is creating a hub at Piedmont Triad International, and HondaJet picked the airport for its new headquarters and manufacturing facility.

Skybus, a low-cost airline, offers direct flights from its Columbus hub to 19 other cities. Direct flights are also available from Boston to two cities in Florida.

However, Skybus recently said it would stop flights to the Seattle area and San Diego due to increasing fuel costs. The airline also is cutting back on service to the Los Angeles area.

“We only fly into airports that do not suffer from severe congestion – after all, airplanes only make money when they are flying,” Airbus Chief Executive Officer Bill Diffenderffer says on the airline’s Web site. “We use the Internet for everything from sales to customer support – like If you want a sandwich and a Coke during your flight, you’ll pay for it – just like you do in any other business. But mostly we just keep things simple.”

The airline flies AirBus A319 aircraft. Most models have room for 156 passengers.

Skybus was formed in 2003.