Airlines you never heard of are rare these days, with starting a new carrier a difficult and expensive endeavor that few entrepreneurs want to undertake. But how about an airline that's been in business 16 years, mostly as a charter operator and government contractor, and may be best known for providing a jet to transport accused Russian spies out of the country this summer? Here's a good profile of Vision Airlines, which is launching scheduled flights using a turboprop between Atlanta and Louisville, Ky., a typical high-fare route dominated by a legacy carrier.
The article mentions another airline many people have never heard of -- Allegiant -- which flies to Florida and Myrtle Beach, SC from Lehigh Valley ABE airport and dozens of other smaller cities, but to very few major airports (including PHL). Aviation consultant Mike Boyd, at his annual forecast summit a couple of years ago, noted that he's tried hard, "but I can't fnd anything wrong with the Allegiant business model," an important statement for a typically skeptical expert. That is apparently still the case, since Allegiant has expanded and stayed profitable over the last two years as the legacy carriers struggled. Allegiant charges low fares, has lots of fees and operates a limited number of flights on each route.