Air Transport World

Pro Air makes waves.

The Detroit-based start-up has gained the spotlight with innovative agreements with major corporations

Sometimes when you're a little fish, it helps to make a big splash. That certainly was true for Pro Air, the Detroit-based start-up that has managed to survive almost two years in Northwest Airlines' pond since commencing service on July 4, 1997. Last June, the tiny airline won the backing of two of the world's largest manufacturing companies, General Motors Corp. and Daimler-Chrylser (then Chrysler Corp.), both of which agreed to guarantee a percentage of their business travel to Pro Air.

The historic and widely reported agreement was viewed as a slap at Northwest, the dominant carrier in Detroit, and put Pro Air on the radar screen at a time when it operated only two Boeing 737s to four destinations--Baltimore/Washington International, Indianapolis, Newark and Philadelphia--from Detroit's close-in City Airport. Under the terms of the agreements, GM and DaimlerChrysler agreed to pay a flat monthly fee in return for unlimited business travel access on the airline among those five cities. The agreements run for five years, with options to extend them another five. …

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