New airline flying high out of Newport News

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) – Hampton Roads’ newest airline is really taking off. PEOPLExpress executives say business is so good, they’re adding more cities earlier than planned.

The low-cost carrier started flying out of Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport in June, with fares starting around $56 one-way.

The company said the success this soon is pretty close to a best case scenario, especially when bringing back an old brand. And since this week marks one month since the airline has been flying to four cities from Newport News, they’re marking the special occasion by adding one more city on Friday.

Photos: PEOPLExpress expands

“We’re seeing great response from the public,” said PEOPLExpress CEO Jeff Erickson. “So, we likewise respond to that and are adding these cities. The inaugural flight to Atlanta is absolutely full. Not a seat available on it.”

Erickson told WAVY.com after several delays getting the company off the ground, primarily due to troubles raising financing, they’re flying high now, exceeding expectations. It was a gamble, but they figured after AirTran left the Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport, more and more people were probably missing cherished moments or paying a lot more to continue making the same trips.

“We’re kind of taking advantage of the traffic that historically was here,” Erickson said. “It feels great. A lot of people have worked very hard to get us to this point, and we’re very satisfied that the public’s responding like it are.”

Their low fares are leading to more customers, like the Sabo family. They’ve been in Hampton Roads from Pittsburgh for a week.

“It makes travel something you don’t really have to think about,” said Barbara Sabo. “Let’s just do it, and it’s affordable, and that’s what I think everyone hopes for. You need to see family and friends, and this way you can.”

They say they saved $400 by using the new airline.

Erickson said PEOPLExpress has nearly doubled foot traffic for the Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport, and by the end of August, they’ll have planes headed to and from St. Petersburg, Florida and New Orleans, Louisiana.

Right now you can book flights with PEOPLExpress through Oct 15. Although he wouldn’t go into specifics, Erickson said they may have more expansion plans to announce by the time they open up booking for the holidays.

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