PeoplExpress, a Virginia-based startup
carrier that is adopting the same name
as the quirky, no-frills carrier of the 1980s,
could be one step closer to takeoff, now
that it has an FAA operating license by
virtue of its recent acquisition of Xtra
Airways, an Idaho-based carrier. PeoplExpress President Mike Morisi spoke with
Senior Editor Gay Nagle Myers about the
tangled web of regulations, requirements,
financing and fleets facing the new low-fare carrier.
plemental operations with 737 aircraft.
It’s been around since 1987, mainly
offering charter services, and is authorized to operate in the U.S., Caribbean,
Canada, Mexico, Central and South
The purchase agreement between
PeoplExpress and TEM Enterprises,
operator of Xtra Airways, gives us the
immediate ability to operate aircraft in
the U.S. under the FAA certificate issued to Xtra. Xtra’s five 150-passenger
737s, which fly charter routes, were part
of the deal.
We now have an FAA certificate and
planes to fly. This is a great foundation
for what we want to do.
Q: The original PeoplExpress has quite
a colorful history. What’s the backsto-ry, and why did you choose the same
A: The name may be the same and the
fares we’ll offer will be low,
very low, but similarities end
there. I worked at PeoplExpress from 1981 to 1987 as
team manager based out
of Newark until Continental
acquired it and the carrier
name was retired.
I remember those days
when we flew out of the
cramped North Terminal at
Newark Airport, offering cheap standby
seats and no-frills fares. Passengers
paid extra for checked baggage, food
and drinks at a time when other airlines
were giving away those services for free.
We are able to use the PeoplExpress
name now because it had not been in
use in the aviation industry for a number of years, and
had not been
maintained as an
active travel industry mark.
Q: Will Xtra have a role to
play in the new PeoplExpress?
A: The purchase of Xtra Airways fits well into our long-term business model. Their
team of industry specialists
has maintained excellent relationships with the FAA for
more than 25 years. We plan
to maintain and develop the
Xtra brand along with the PeoplExpress
brand. At this time it makes perfect
sense to continue the Xtra brand for
our charter service model.
Q: When will you announce a launch
date and route network for PeoplExpress?
A: We will have
an announcement this summer regarding
start of service
and routes to
be served. It’s
a complex process.
There are a lot of logistics, policies
and procedures to be finalized, including filing routes and flight schedules,
setting fares, hiring staff, training programs, reservations setup and upgrading the website.
‘The name may be the same
and the fares we’ll offer will
be low, very low, but simi-
larities end there.’
The bus tour
began in Secaucus,
(Coincidentally, Secaucus also is
home base to Travel Weekly.)
Participants saw 20 “
Sopranos” sites that afternoon, including several in Kearny,
such as the Skyway Diner
where the character Christ
Moltisani was shot in the
second season, Satriale’s
Pork Store and St. Cecilia’s
The tour wound up at Sorrento’s Pastry Cafe near Paramus, where
Tony often stopped for cannolis.
The tour cost $30 and paid 10% commission, and it did a booming business
in “The Sopranos” heyday.
Ka-ching. Bada bing.
Kempinski Hotels boss Reto
Wittmer spoke recently at a lunch
in New York, and he said some
interesting and provocative
things. TC jotted down a few
• “I love the [financial]
crisis — brought the best
results since the foundation
of the company.”
• “We will not grow beyond a
certain number. Luxury is numerically limited. We will never have more
hotels than the age of the company.”
(Kimpton was established in 1897, and it
has 81 hotels now.)
• “Ten years ago, Hilton was a luxury
hotel. Is it today? In 10 years, Kempinski
will be. We will write a few pages in the
new definition of luxury.”
• “The luxury agenda is being rewritten in the hotel business. It is being rewritten around food and beverage and
• “We never pay dividends to shareholders. We reinvest in the company.”
he death of James Gandolfini, best known as
Tony Soprano on HBO’s smash hit “The Sopra-
nos,” reminded TC of the tour of the New Jersey
sites where Tony and his “family” spent their time.
held inside. A steady drizzle had enveloped Southampton for the better part of
two days, and it was midmorning before
the gloom lifted enough to chance an
Paul Ludlow, Princess Cruises’ U.K. director, put a cheery spin on the uncertain
skies. “We’re obviously very excited the
Duchess will be here,” he said, “even on a
typical British summer day.”
Princess Cruises got the photo it wanted when Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, snipped a cord and sent a bottle
of champagne on its way to the Royal
But it was touch and go leading up to
the noon ceremony whether it would be
Q: Where is the
A: We’re in Newport News/Williams-
burg Airport in southeastern Virginia.
PeoplExpress served this airport. We’ll
use gates vacated by Air Tran in March
2012 after it was acquired by South-
west. Air Tran represented 43% of the
airport’s market in 2010.
Friends & Colleagues
Brand USA, the organization that promotes international tourism to the U.S.,
has appointed Yvonne La
Penotiere as chief marketing officer.
Bennett had been responsible for the development
of relationships with ABC’s
hotel and supplier partners.
Braun has supported
ABC’s Premier Hotel Program’s fulfillment operations and assisted with supplier and agency marketing
Q: Why did PeoplExpress recently pur-
chase Xtra Airways?
A: Xtra Airways is certificated by the
FAA to conduct flag, domestic and sup-
Q: What’s your goal?
A: To offer very low fares, great service,
make flying fun again and to make
Newport News/Williamsburg the newest, biggest hub.
Landmark Hotels has
named Christi Lewis
regional sales manager for
group meetings and incentives in the Midwest.
She most recently worked
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ABC Global Services has
had hired one new executive
and promoted two current
Peter Frensz has been
named vice president of
hotel and supplier relations,
William Bennett has been
promoted to director of hotel and supplier relations,
and Patty Braun has been
promoted to manager, business support.
Frensz was most recently
at Trondent Development
Corp. and has also worked
for American Express and
as director of regional group
sales for the Mauna Lani
Bay Hotel & Bungalows on
the Big Island of Hawaii.
SUBMIT YOUR STORIES AND PHOTOS: Gerry Bourbeau, Travel
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T W ILLUS TRATION B Y THOMAS R LECHLEI TER