|Hubs||Detroit City Airport|
Pro Air was a United States airline founded by Kevin Stamper in July 1997 to serve the centrally located Detroit City Airport in Detroit, Michigan. Its headquarters were in the Lower Queen Anne area of Seattle, Washington.
Pro Air charged extremely low fares and experienced high passenger load factors on most of its flights; however, many of its flights were delayed with mechanical and crew problems.
When Pro Air 737's underwent "C" maintenance checks, Spirit Airlines, Pan Am Clipper Connection, and Casino Express operated their flights for them via charters. A Pan Am Boeing 727 collapsed the fence at the end of runway 33 in at Detroit City Airport (DET) due to having to significantly increase engine thrust because of the short runway takeoff length of 5000 ft.
Pro Air required its initial employees to go "door-to-door" in the metropolitan Detroit area and pass out flyers promoting the airline. The airline's first flight crew base was located in Indianapolis. Most employees moved to the Detroit area when the Detroit City Airport hub operation commenced in 1998.
Pro Air was in direct competition with Northwest Airlines on many of their routes. They originally started with a single fare for everyone, but about 18 months afterwards they went to tiered fares with advance purchase requirements. They also had originally served full meals in coach (in addition to first class) but scrapped the program after realizing that the cost of the meal accounted for, on average, 10% of the fare that the customer paid. They were known for their signature "hot meal" service (even on the 35 minute DET-MDW route) in First Class along with premium alcoholic beverage service, and were the only airline to charge a mere $2 for beer and wine in Economy class (mixed drinks were $3).
Pro Air pioneered one of the lowest fares on the DET-LGA-DET route at $59 each way (which has since been topped by Spirit Airlines $0.01 fares). "Founder's Fares" were offered for those passengers who already flew them as a "thank you" promotion. Detroit-area vehicle manufacturers General Motors and Chrysler also had programs in place for their employees and their families who flew on Pro Air with discounted fares of $30 each way being available. After slightly more than three years of operations, Pro Air was grounded by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on September 18, 2000 for numerous regulatory violations and its aircraft were then quickly repossessed by the lessor.
During its existence, Pro Air operated flights from Detroit City to Baltimore-Washington International Airport, Chicago Midway Airport, New York LaGuardia Airport, Orlando International Airport, Fort Myers, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Newark, Orlando, Philadelphia, Seattle, Atlanta and Tampa. In 1998, it was also operating nonstop flights between Indianapolis and two destinations in Florida, Fort Myers and Orlando. By early 2000, it had ceased serving Fort Myers, Milwaukee and Tampa. Due to Detroit City's short runways limiting the amount of fuel the aircraft could carry on takeoff, flights to Seattle and Florida stopped in Chicago and Atlanta, respectively. Tickets could be purchased for just the Chicago-Seattle or Atlanta-Florida portions of the flights.
It operated a small fleet, starting with two Boeing 737-400 jetliners, and then expanding to three Boeing 737-400 and one Boeing 737-300 aircraft. The 737-400 had a seating configuration of 138 in coach and eight in first class, with slightly increased legroom in both classes when compared to seating offered by major U.S. airlines. Pro Air had McDonnell Douglas MD-90 jetliners on order; however, the airline shut down before the first aircraft could be delivered, but not before it was painted. Just before Pro Air's demise, General Motors (GM) had been in talks to offer their three corporate-configured Saab 2000 turboprop aircraft to the airline, indicating that they would choose which routes and frequencies the aircraft would operate on as Pro Air Express flights; however, the deal was never consummated due to the airline shutting down operations.
The planes had special flaps in order to facilitate takeoff from Detroit City Airport on the short runways.
Aircraft in fleet:
- Boeing 737-300
- Boeing 737-400
- McDonnell Douglas MD-90 (ordered but not operated prior to Pro Air's shut down of all flights)
Destinations in February 2000
According to the February 24, 2000 Pro Air system timetable, the airline was serving ten U.S. destinations:
- Atlanta, GA (ATL)
- Baltimore, MD (BWI)
- Chicago, IL - Midway Airport (MDW)
- Detroit, MI - Detroit City Airport (DET) - Hub
- Indianapolis, IN (IND)
- Newark, NJ (EWR)
- New York City, NY - LaGuardia Airport (LGA)
- Orlando, FL (MCO)
- Philadelphia, PA (PHL)
- Seattle, WA (SEA)
- "Employment." Pro Air. May 23, 1998. Retrieved on September 18, 2009.
- "FAA Orders Pro Air to Halt Flights". ABC News. 19 September 2000. Retrieved 28 May 2017.
- http://www.departedflights.com, Feb. 1, 1998 Pro Air route map
- http://www.departedflights.com, Feb. 24, 2000 Pro Air route map
- Pro Air Acquires Aircraft to Launch Pro Air Express; New Service to Feed Jet Flights From Smaller Cities., PR Newswire, August 25, 1999
- http://www.departedflights.com, Feb. 24, 2000 Pro Air system timetable & route map