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Potential for new domestic low-fare carriers in the U.S.

This week, Travel Weekly (free subscription required) reports on the happenings at June’s World Low Cost Airlines Congress-Americas that took place in Miami.

According to Anthony Tangorra, CEO of Latitude Transport Advisory, “There’s an opportunity for lower-fare new entrants in the U.S.,” despite the current troubled times of the U.S. airline industry and the flop of Independence Air late last year. The most recent addition to the handful of low-cost airlines in the U.S. is Go!, an intra-Hawaii carrier that’s been engaging in fare wars with Aloha and Hawaiian.

Prospective carriers include Virgin America, which plans to offer “broadband access, an entertainment system with a nine-inch screen, interactive games, on-demand movies and…a touch screen to order food that is sold on board,” according to the airline’s CEO.

Another prospective carrier is Skybus, which received Department of Transportation approval to begin flying earlier this year, and has dubbed itself “America’s Ultra-Low Fare Airline.” According to industry reports, it plans to follow the model of one of Europe’s most prominent low-fare carriers, Ryanair, by using out-of-the-way, uncrowded airports, and will “outsource everything it can.” Ryanair doesn’t offer reclining seats and charges for checked baggage, but it remains to be seen whether Skybus will do the same. According to Travel Weekly, insiders report that Skybus isn’t being greeted favorably, and there’s “some disgruntlement and disagreement over Skybus’ proposed routes.”

Whether these or other new low-fare carriers will give AirTran, Frontier, JetBlue, Southwest, and Spirit a run for their money remains to be seen. Stay tuned for more details.

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