Western Pacific Airlines
|Founded||1994 (as Commercial Air)|
|Commenced operations||April 28, 1995|
|Ceased operations||February 4, 1998|
|Hubs||Colorado Springs Airport, Denver International Airport|
|Subsidiaries||Mountain Air Express|
|Company slogan||Super Summer Saver Jet, Future Logo Jet, Beat the System, Winter Wonder Plane and Spring Fling Jet|
|Headquarters||Colorado Springs, Colorado|
Western Pacific Airlines, or WestPac, started scheduled passenger flights on April 28, 1995, with eight Boeing 737-300s. The low-cost airline was formed in 1994 under the name Commercial Air, changed to Western Pacific. Edward Gaylord of Gaylord Entertainment Company was involved in the formation and management of Western Pacific. Its headquarters were in unincorporated El Paso County, Colorado, near Colorado Springs.
Originally based at Colorado Springs Airport, Western Pacific routes were mainly west of the Mississippi River. Routes were extended to the eastern U.S. and on the west coast as new Boeing 737-300 aircraft were acquired. At one point the airline leased Boeing 727-200 jetliners as well. The airline declared bankruptcy in February 1998 and ceased operations.
Color in the Sky
- Stardust Resort & Casino - Las Vegas, Nevada
- Purgatory Ski Resort - Durango, Colorado
- Womack's Casino - Cripple Creek, Colorado
- Crested Butte Resort - Gunnison, Colorado
- The Broadmoor - Colorado Springs, Colorado
- Thrifty Car Rental - U.S. car rental chain
- ProRodeo Hall of Fame and Museum of the American Cowboy - Colorado Springs, Colorado
- The Simpsons - FOX-TV Network's hit television show - N949WP
- Spirit of Durango - City of Durango, Colorado Board of Tourism
- Security Service Federal Credit Union - Colorado Credit Union
- Colorado Tech University - Denver, Colorado & Colorado Springs, Colorado
- Colorado Springs - City of Colorado Springs, Colorado Board of Tourism
- Sam's Town Hotels and Gambling Halls - Boyd Gaming properties in Las Vegas, Nevada, Kansas City, Missouri and Tunica, Mississippi
The company also had other schemes with no corporate affiliations or advertising. They were:
- Spring Fling Jet
- “Beat the System”
- Winter Wonder Plane
- Super Summer Saver Jet
- Future Logo Jet
A marketing promotion with Rupert Murdoch’s American Fox network was broadcast nationwide in September 1995. During the episode, “Who Shot Mister Burns?” of The Simpsons, callers who phoned in with the correct answer won free air travel or other prizes.
Mountain Air Express and new Washington Dulles Service
Western Pacific was involved with the creation of a new commuter airline, Mountain Air Express (MAX) which began operations in 1996 flying Dornier 328 turboprops. MAX provided passenger feed for Western Pacific at Colorado Springs and later at Denver.
Earlier, Western Pacific had leased two (2) Boeing 727-200 jetliners from Express One International to initiate new service to Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) during the airline's expansion in 1995.
Changing Hubs and the Declining Years
In 1989 Denver announced that Denver International Airport would replace Stapleton International Airport. Since the airport was self-funded it would charge higher-than-normal landing fees to pay back the bonds. Denver International Airport was also twice as far from Denver as Stapleton International Airport. Shortly before the opening of the airport Continental Airlines shut down their Denver hub, leaving Denver as a hub for one carrier, United Airlines, whereas Stapleton had once been a hub for airlines like the original Frontier Airlines (1950-1986) and Western Airlines.
Effort was made to explore using a secondary airport as an airline's hub, taking Continental's place without incurring the high landing fees of Denver International Airport. Centennial Airport in Denver, Jeffco Airport in Broomfield and Colorado Springs Airport were considered, though Colorado Springs had been chosen as the hub for Western Pacific when the airline began.
While Western Pacific's Colorado Springs hub had initially been successful and was beginning to siphon traffic from Denver, by 1997 the airline had not made a profit in two years of operation. Colorado Springs Airport is south of the Denver metropolitan area, limiting its appeal to front range travelers from much the Denver area. Western Pacific executives decided to move the hub from Colorado Springs to Denver International Airport in 1997.
A day after the move to Denver was completed, Western Pacific announced it would "purchase" competing Denver-based Frontier Airlines which had acquired Continental's former gates at the Denver International Airport. The two carriers would immediately enter into a codesharing agreement with the Frontier flight schedule being secondary to Western Pacific's schedule. Western Pacific then shelved plans to expand their Colorado Springs hub.
The merger process with Frontier then began. However, after Frontier gained access to Western Pacific's financial records as a part of the due diligence process, Frontier and their bankers then decided to no longer pursue this opportunity and the merger was abruptly canceled, leading to Western Pacific's bankruptcy and also nearly destroying Frontier in the process.
Western Pacific declared Chapter 7 bankruptcy in February 1998. Frontier Airlines survived and currently operates a jet fleet that is approximately twice the size of the proposed combined Western Pacific-Frontier operation.
The airline served the following destinations in the U.S. during its existence:
- Atlanta (Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport) - ATL
- Chicago (Chicago Midway International Airport) - MDW
- Colorado Springs (Colorado Springs Airport) - COS - Original Hub
- Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas (Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport) - DFW
- Denver (Stapleton International Airport then replaced by Denver International Airport) - DEN - Subsequent Hub
- Houston (Houston Intercontinental Airport) - IAH
- Indianapolis (Indianapolis International Airport) - IND
- Kansas City (Kansas City International Airport) - MCI (also served by codeshare partner Mountain Air Express)
- Las Vegas (McCarran International Airport) - LAS
- Los Angeles (Los Angeles International Airport) - LAX
- Miami (Miami International Airport) - MIA
- Nashville (Nashville International Airport) - BNA
- Newark (Newark Liberty International Airport) - EWR
- Oklahoma City (Will Rogers World Airport) - OKC (also served by codeshare partner Mountain Air Express)
- Ontario (Ontario International Airport) - ONT
- Orlando (Orlando International Airport) - MCO
- Phoenix (Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport) - PHX
- Portland (Portland International Airport) - PDX
- San Antonio (San Antonio International Airport) - SAT
- San Diego (San Diego International Airport) - SAN
- San Francisco (San Francisco International Airport) - SFO
- San Jose (San Jose International Airport) - SJC
- Seattle (Seattle-Tacoma International Airport) - SEA
- Tulsa (Tulsa International Airport) - TUL (also served by codeshare partner Mountain Air Express)
- Washington, D.C. (Washington-Dulles International Airport) - IAD
- Wichita (Wichita Mid-Continent Airport) - ICT
Mountain Air Express Destinations
Mountain Air Express (MAX) served the following destinations on behalf of Western Pacific via a codesharing agreement. MAX was a wholly owned subsidiary of Western Pacific and was created to provide passenger feed. This commuter airline operated Dornier 328 propjets.
- Albuquerque, NM - ABQ
- Aspen, CO - ASE
- Casper, WY - CPR
- Cheyenne, WY - CYS
- Colorado Springs, CO - COS
- Denver, CO - DEN
- Grand Junction, CO - GJT
- Gunnison, CO - GUC
- Hayden/Steamboat Springs, CO - HDN
- Kansas City, MO - MCI
- Oklahoma City, OK - OKC
- Salt Lake City, UT - SLC
- Santa Fe, NM - SAF
- Tulsa, OK - TUL
- Boeing 727-200 - leased from Express One in order to facilitate new routes
- Boeing 737-300 - main aircraft type in fleet
- Boeing 737-700 - on order at the time of cessation of all scheduled service (these aircraft were never delivered)
Codeshare partner Mountain Air Express operated Dornier 328 turboprop aircraft.
- "World Airline Directory." Flight International. March 19–25, 1997. 91. "2864 S Circle Drive. Suite 1100. Colorado Springs, Colorado. 80906, USA"
- "Council District Map." City of Colorado Springs. Retrieved on December 7, 2009.
- Western Pacific Airlines to Serve Denver - New York Times
- The Pueblo Chieftain Online - WestPac plans to add Colorado Springs flights
- The Pueblo Chieftain Online - Western Pacific calls it quit
- New York Times
- Seabury Group - Investment Banking & Advisory Services
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