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People Express Its trademark brand of service is back in flight

People Express, the original no-frills airline, was all about cost when it helped revolutionize the industry from its Newark headquarters in 1981.

So it only seems fitting that when a group of investors wanted to restart the airline, they found the cost of obtaining the iconic name was as cheap as it gets: free.

That’s right — the trademark on the People Express name had not been renewed, allowing the new company to grab the old name for nothing more than registration fees.

“It’s such an iconic brand, we were all surprised it was available,” CEO Jeff Erickson said. “But the trademark was left idle so we grabbed it.”

Restarting the airline hasn’t been as easy.

There have been delays, executive departures and layoffs since the initial plans were announced in February 2012. The airline, which is now headquartered in Newport News, Va., made its first flight (into Newark) on July 1.

Erickson, a more-than-40-year veteran in the industry who was brought in last October, feels the time is again right for an airline such as People Express to operate.

The business model, he said, still works.

“People are still paying too much,” he said. “The airline industry keeps saying it has all this free stuff, but it’s all embedded in really high prices.”

Erickson knows this firsthand. He said he recently flew to New York City from Virginia for more than $1,000. The same trip to Newark on People Express will be just $112 round-trip, including all fees and taxes.

There are additional fees — such as for baggage and beverages — but Erickson said the overall price of People Express still wins. By a lot.

Tom Bergeron

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