I did a double take when I saw the above image on the internet yesterday. Air Florida, once the state’s “flag” carrier is attempting a comeback 30 years after going belly up. The return of Air Florida with its circa 1980 logo, if it really happens in 2015 s the above advertisement and website claim would be yet another 1980’s airline name revival with the recent rebirth of People’s Express and the probable return of Eastern.
Air Florida and People’s Express were both low cost carriers that flooded the market with cheap flights from Florida to the Northeast, trashing yields for the network carriers on routes between Miami/Fort Lauderdale/West Palm Beach/Tampa/Orlando and Boston/New York/Newark/Philadelphia/Washington. The return of Eastern which was one of those network carriers and as late as 1984 the largest airline in the “free” world (that was 1980’s lingo to exclude state owned industries in the USSR and China) on a small start-up though could end up bringing back memories of the ill-fated Pan Am revivals of the late 1990’s and early 2000’s.
If Air Florida really is revived and plans on offering service between Florida and the Midwest/Northeast as indicated on the above map, we can keep our fingers crossed that maybe the airline will eventually provide affordable air service within the state including to the capital city of Tallahassee, which has become thanks to recent cutbacks the one of the two most inaccessible capitals in the ten largest states by air (the other being Lansing Michigan, though Lansing is a much shorter drive from the state’s population centers than Tallahassee is).
Another issue is the recent withdrawal of Southwest Airlines from several flight pairs in the state. With the absence of High Speed Rail (originally killed by Governor Bush with the help of several Palm Beach County Democrats and more recently by Governor Scott) The following flights within Florida have all been cut by Southwest in the last year:
- Orlando-Panama City
- Orlando- Fort Lauderdale
- Orlando – Key West
- Tampa -West Palm Beach
- Tampa – Key West
- Tampa- Jacksonville
- Fort Lauderdale – Jacksonville
- Fort Myers – Orlando
The lone remaining internal Florida flight on Southwest is Fort Lauderdale-Tampa which has been trimmed from eight flights a day to just three. Similarly Spirit Airlines has cut Orlando-Fort Lauderdale and Tampa-Fort Lauderdale from four flights a day each to just one, which is timed to connect with Spirit’s large Latin American network from Fort Lauderdale. So in other words, the remaining daily nonstops on both routes are simply timed for connections to international destinations and do not run at the right times for business travelers.
The need for affordable JET service (Silver Airlines which formerly was DBA United Express is great but they operate prop planes only) has only intensified as the state has grown and the politicians have killed High Speed Rail.
Florida’s state of transportation and ability to move people quickly around the state is yet another reason why Charlie Crist must be elected Governor. Rick Scott has dropped the ball on these issues, much as Jeb Bush did before him. Like Governor Bush, Scott has a clear ideological agenda and like Bush he did not grow up in this state so perhaps does not fully appreciate the challenges faced in terms of population growth and linking major growing metropolitan areas together. Or maybe like Bush he often simply puts politics above what is best for the state.