PUNTA GORDA — Skybus Airlines is adding another nonstop route into the Charlotte County Airport.
This time, it is from the Westover Metropolitan Airport in Chicopee, Mass., within a half-hour’s drive of both Hartford, Conn., and Springfield, Mass.
Skybus spokesman Bob Tenenbaum said the addition of a fourth route into Punta Gorda since the airline began flying there in December is because of the success of the routes so far.
“The flights have been successful beyond anyone’s expectations,” Tenenbaum said. Skybus is an ultra-low-fare airline that allows advertisements in and on its planes, and charges passengers for everything from early boarding to gifts and food during the flight.
As the airline, which offers a limited number of $10 seats on every flight, continues to grow, the Chicopee flight is one of the first that will not originate from one of its two hubs in Columbus, Ohio, and Greensboro, N.C.. That is a milestone of sorts for the company.
“We were pleasantly surprised,” said Gary Quill, head of the Charlotte County Airport. “That now gives us two locations in the Northeast plus Columbus plus Greensboro, and that’s pretty neat.”
On the flip side, skyrocketing jet fuel prices have forced Skybus to cancel one of its twice-daily, round-trip flights from Greensboro, N.C., to Punta Gorda.
The hope is that the remaining flight will carry more passengers and increase that route’s overall profitability in light of the fuel costs.
The airline will also stop a seasonal daily offering to Columbus on March 31, which was a pre-planned move that leaves two flights per day to that destination.
Skybus only takes reservations through the Web. Seats on the new flight to and from Chicopee, plus all the Skybus destinations from Aug. 1 to Sept. 2, are already available at www.skybus.com.
Skybus, which flies Airbus A319 jets, continues a brisk business to smaller airfields up north, with total February passenger counts out of Punta Gorda of 31,788. That beat the previous record of 29,152 passengers set in January.