By Bill Cresenzo
PeoplExpress, slated to begin a low-fare airline operation at Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport last year, is in talks about purchasing another carrier.
Michael Morisi, PeoplExpress president, said the company could announce the carrier it's purchasing as soon as Feb. 1.
"We did close a small loan with the City of Newport News Economic Development Authority, and have placed a deposit on the acquisition of an existing certificated air carrier," Morisi said last week. "We are getting close to finalizing the due diligence and when we do, we will be permitted to announce the name of the carrier and our plans."
The $500,000 loan from the Regional Air Service Enhancement Committee of the EDA is a short-term, non-interest loan.
"Within about 10 days we will announce the carrier we are acquiring, ou r new CEO and additional funding information as well as a target launch date that is very realistic," Morisi said.
PeoplExpress is still awaiting certification from the Federal Aviation Administration.
The airline is a revival of an airline of the same name that started in 1981. By 1985, it was generating $1 billion in annual revenue. It was bought by Continental in 1987 and later stopped flying.
AirTran shuttered its service at the airport in March of last year, causing a huge blow to passenger activity at the airport. As of November, the airport had seen a 38.4 percent drop in activity, from 804,806 passengers during the first nine months of 2011, to 495,596 for the first nine months of 2012.