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Independence Air

Independence Air[1] is a low-cost air carrier with its major hub being Dulles International Airport of Washington DC. Since inception, it has made Dulles the largest low-cost hub in the United States. Independence Air is largely an eastern regional carrier covering an area ranging from as far west as San Diego, Los Angeles, San Jose, San Francisco and Seattle to as far south as West Palm Beach and Fort Myers to as far north as Burlington and Rochester.

Known as Atlantic Coast Airlines from 1989 to 2003 it has operated as United Express for United Airlines and Delta Connection for Delta Air Lines. During 2003 revenues were generated about 80% from United Express operations and 20% from Delta Connection. United Airlines entered bankruptcy protection in December 2002. At that time United Airlines contracted a consulting firm, Bain, to renegotiate its regional partners contracts. Atlantic Coast Airlines employees and managment went though a significant cost reduction program to remain competitive as a United Express carrier. Presented with overwhelming competition from other regional airlines Atlantic Coast Airlines and United Airlines were unable to negotiate a mutual agreement. At that time Atlantic Coast Airlines continued to honor it's 10 year contract with United Airlines. Expecting that United would be unable to honor that contract Atlantic Coast Airlines developed an alternate business plan.

After announcing plans to part with United Airlines, Atlantic Coast Airlines' signifigant cash position made it a prime target for a takeover attempt. Mesa Airlines launched an attempt at a hostile takeover in the Summer of 2003. Significant SEC violations were committed in the attempt that were vigorously defended in the courts. At the same time the employees of Atlantic Coast Airlines organized a grass roots effort to avert the takeover attempt. Within a few months the stock purchase plan was removed by Mesa Air.

On November 19, 2003 Atlantic Coast Airlines announced that it would become a low cost carrier under the name of Independence Air.

Independence Air currently flies Canadair regional jets customized with leather seats. New Airbus A319 aircraft (also outfitted with leather seats) started scheduled operations on November 22, 2004. Twenty eight Airbus 319's are scheduled for delivery in 2004-2007. The first of those arrived at Dulles on September 9, 2004 to commence proving runs. Independence Air officals stated before launch that estimated CASM costs (CASM is how much it costs an airline to fly one seat one mile) were to be at about $0.22. The CASM for the Airbus is projected to be much lower, in the range of JetBlue's ($0.065 per mile). In comparison, Southwest's costs are about $0.075 a mile, and US Airways' are approximately $0.11.

As of January 2005, Independence serves 38 airports, compared to 60 served by Southwest and 30 by JetBlue. Additional Airbus A319 cities will be added in February with service to West Palm Beach and Fort Myers, beginning in March Las Vegas will be added. In May, Los Angeles, Seattle/Tacoma, San Francisco, San Jose, and San Diego will be added to the network.

Atlantic Coast Airlines previously operated United Express flights out of Dulles and O'Hare International Airport in Chicago with Jetstream 41 planes and the Canadair regional jets. Their Delta Connection flights out of Logan International Airport in Boston, Massachusetts and Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky International Airport in Covington, Kentucky were operated with the Fairchild Dornier 328. Its status as a United Express carrier ended on August 4, 2004 and its status as a Delta Connection carrier ended November 2nd, 2004.















New Hampshire

New Jersey

New York

North Carolina



Rhode Island

South Carolina





West Virginia


Independence Air uses the IATA designator code DH "Dulles Hub"

Callsign under Atlantic Coast Airlines "Blue Ridge[Tail Number]"

Callsign under Independence Air "Independence[Tail Number]"

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Last updated: 05-15-2005 14:15:53