A passenger on World Airways' proposed cross-country flights won't be paying for empty seats, extravagant promotion efforts, automated reservations systems or elaborate - but perhaps unwanted - food and beverage service. World officials told Congress yesterday.
The fare of under $100 each way - about half the current coach fare - wouldn't cover these items.
Instead, World will offer consumers "a seat moving between two points," William Hardenstine, senior vice president for sales, told the Senate Aviation Subcommittee.
The seats will leave on wide-bodied jet aircraft from underutilized airports - Baltimore and Newark on the East Coast and Oakland and Ontario, Calif., on the West. The carrier plans to put more seats on the DC10s and DC-8s it will be using than other airlines, but Hardenstine said the seats - all one class - will not be uncomfortable. They also plann to fill 75 per cent of them, in contrast to the half-full loads the scheduled carriers often fly.
Tickets would be sold by travel agents and through Ticketron; the only way a seat could be reserved would be through the purchase. In addition, food and beverage service, other than non-alcoholic beverages, will be extra.
"There will be no frills, no payment for excess capacity or empty space, just safe and reliable air transportation at the lowest possible cost," Hardenstine said. "We are proposing an entirely new concept in transcontinental air service, a concept that would dramatically reduce seat costs and thereby justify a fare low enough to bring our service within reach of millions of Americans who cannot afford to travel by air today."
World has been trying to sell its idea to the Civil Aeronautics Board for ten years this month. Its first application, contemplating a one-way far of $79, languished at the board until 1973 when it was dismissed as "stale." After a similar appalication was dismissed in January 1976 - the CAB said the law didn't a low it to give a charter airline the authority to offer scheduled service at the same time - World took the board to court and won. This January, the board said it would hold hearing on the application.
[Yesterday, a board official said the staff is working on an order outlining the information the board will seek in the World proceeding; the board members then must vote on it.]
World's difficulty with the CAB is an argument for change in the current regulatory framework within which the airline industry operates, its officials said. "At the very least, we think qualified carries such as World should be given the opportunity to test their new ideas against the conventional wisdom in the marketplace," Hardenstine said.
In endorsing legislation designed to open the air industry to more competition, Jerry Scoutt, attorney for World and a partner in the firm of Zuckert, Scoutt and Rasenberger, suggested the subcommittee impose "strict time limits" on board proceedings. Worrying that the scheduled carries are in a position to drive the charter sout of business in a less regulated environment, he also urged that any measure clearly state that concentration or domination by a group or class of carriers is not in the public interest.