Air Transport World

Navigating niches in the Northwest. (Mohawk Airlines )

Robert Peach, Jr., resurrects the name Mohawk for his independent regional and makes his bid on point-to-point, high-frequency service. By Kathryn B. Creedy.

"I made a quiet pact with myself that when I turned 40 I would quit whatever I was doing and give the airline business a shot," said Robert Peach in describing his transition from founder/owner of a successful construction business to airline president. After all, he grew up watching his father, Robert, Sr., run the old Mohawk Airlines--the one that was merged with Allegheny in 1972. "My younger brother and I always talked about getting back into the airline business," he says. Consequently, Peach, now 42, and John Barkett founded the new Mohawk last July. Brother John is one of the investors.

There is much about this story that says that the more things change, the more they stay the same. While Mohawk is the quintessential new breed of regional airline, it also is a good example of the old breed--those of the late 1960s and early 70s. There is the entrepreneurial founding father; the emphasis on hometown; the effort to serve community needs rather than those of a major carrier and an experienced work force that wears many hats and keeps the airline lean. But unlike many of the last-generation founding fathers, Peach brings to Mohawk experience in turning companies around and creating his own successful businesses.

Syracuse-based Mohawk bills itself as the largest independent regional in the Northeast, offering 88 flights daily and serving 15 cities in five states with a fleet of eight Beech 99s and one 1900. It is an ambitious billing considering that its passenger statistics have hovered around 5,000-7,500 monthly since service was inaugurated last July. Disadvantages and problems

But Mohawk faces an environment that is both vastly different and much the same. Like the other new independent regionals, it faces the disadvantages of being independent in a code-sharing, hub-and-spoke world. Independents also face problems such as inability to obtain joint fares or gain "decent" airport facilities.

Indeed, airport access remains a big problem. Mohawk gained access to the coveted White Plains, N.Y., market, where it was being handled by Command Airways. But it wound up with no counter coverage when Command left the market last year and-despite Mohawk's incumbency-did not cede that counter area to Mohawk, instead giving it to Metro Northeast TWExpress. …

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