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Airline start-up PEOPLExpress now has planes to fly.
The fledgling airline has been trying to set up operations in Newport News since last year. With Wednesday’s announcement that PEOPLExpress had acquired Idaho-based XTRA Airways, the airline has not only secured its first aircraft but also the Federal Aviation Administration certificate required to operate as an airline in the United States.
XTRA Airways is based out of Boise, Idaho, where it operates a fleet of Boeing 737 aircraft. It was reported in April that PEOPLExpress had a purchase agreement in place to acquire in airline, though the name of the airline was unknown at the time.
The announcement did not include a potential start date for service, and wydaily.com was unable to reach PEOPLExpress CEO Mike Morisi by phone.
“The purchase of XTRA Airways fits well into the PEOPLExpress long-term business model,” Morisi said in a statement on the company’s website. “Their talented team of airline industry specialists has maintained excellent relationships with the FAA, its customers, and industry leaders for more than 25 years.”
PEOPLExpress had explored the possibility of buying planes and then applying for an air operator’s certificate, but that process could take up to 18 months. By acquiring XTRA and its certificate, the airline has bypassed that process entirely.
XTRA Airways was established in 1987 and is certified to operate in the United States, the Caribbean, Canda, Mexico and Central and South America.
The addition of PEOPLExpress to Newport News-Williamsburg International Airport would bring more flights to an airport that lost 43 percent of its market in March 2012, when AirTran left.