Air Transport World

Command Airways: where to from here?

"There can be no relaxation if we are to overcome intense competitive forces resulting from dog-eat-dog fare wars now in progress.... They are bound to heap more economic stress upon commuters."

This prophetic statement made three years ago by Kingsley Morse, founder and president of Command Airways based at Poughkeepsie, N.Y., is just as true today. Further, he forecast "no let-up in intensity of old and continuing issues affecting commuter/regional airlines" and he warned in addition, "the industry must be prepared to meet and match a host of new issues expected to blossom in the coming years." Many changes have beset the industry since 1982. Return of major airlines to low yield markets, exclusive commuter feed contracts with majors, use of dual designators in major carrier computer reservation systems, unbridled competition among the commuter level carriers and the compulsive urge upon management to expand beyond the limits of resources have compounded the problem and resulted in many closed doors and sell-outs.

Morse sees the competitive climate in the Northeast U.S. markets to be the most intense of the nation--there are too many carriers trying to match or lower unprofitable fares.

Commuter Airways, Executive Air, Altair, Air New England, Vermont Air, among others, have thrown in the towel. In the meantime Business Express, Bar Harbor, Mall Airways, Pilgrim, PBA, Precision, Brockaway, Pocono, Ransome, Suburban and Henson are each fighting for a healthy slice of the short-haul traffic pie.

Where does Command fit?

To place his airline in proper perspective to the total scene, Morse says a review of Command's performance during the past 20 years is essential.

When he entered the aviation industry via the purchase of Mid Hudson Airlines, a scheduled air taxi company based at Poughkeepsie in 1966, "there was every challenge in the world to develop airlift geared to the needs of area business executives. …

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