Air Transport World

The fun bunch. (Western Pacific Airlines)

Yearling Western Pacific offers a colorful, low-cost, ticketless alternative to bustling Denver. But will it make money?

COLORADO SPRINGS--It takes a little getting used to. Fox TV's cartoon family of Homer, Bart and Marge Simpson, the latter with her 20-ft.-high blue beehive running up the vertical stabilizer of a Western Pacific Boeing 737, their eyes bulging out at boarding passengers from a mustard-colored background.

Subtle it isn't. But the method is effective for the advertiser and the airline, says WestPac founder and CEO Ed Beauvais. Most of the airline's 15 737-300s are flying billboards, carrying advertisements for resorts, television shows, banks and car-rental companies. Businesses fork over thousands of dollars per year for the privilege of seeing their names "slip the surly bonds of earth."

Beauvais says he's having much more fun running this airline than America West, a carrier he helped found in 1983-and according to some, helped drive into bankruptcy in 1991 through overexpansion. America West has recovered and so has Beauvais. By launching Western Pacific in Colorado Springs, he cleverly tapped a market in a city. of 400,000, who yearned for years for affordable air travel that would not involve driving 65 mi. to Denver. Indeed, Beauvais selected Colorado Springs as a base precisely because he saw an opportunity to take advantage of public disenchantment with the high-cost and inconveniently located Denver International. True to his vision, Western Pacific actually is drawing Denver-area passengers away from "that Taj Mahal."

Since commencing operations in late April, 1995, with three aircraft serving five cities, Beauvais has grown the fleet to 15 aircraft serving 19 cities, typically providing 1-2 round trips per day in each market. The average stage length is 829 mi.; the route network includes mostly large and medium-sized cities. Approximately 90% of the airline's traffic is O&D, 10% connecting. …

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