There was once a low fares airline in the United States called People Express Airlines, which was branded as PEOPLExpress. The airline started services on 30 April 1981 with Boeing 737-100s sourced from Lufthansa, for flights from New York Newark to Buffalo, Columbus and Norfolk.

With fast expansion – including using leased Boeing 747s for flights from Newark to London Gatwick – the airline looked to be on course for success. So what happened to them?

People Express Video

Following on from the last video about California’s Pacific Southwest Airlines, this time we have a look at the story of People Express. The video below runs for a little under 12 minutes and covers the salient points.

It’s fascinating to see some of the methods they used to keep costs down, such as cross utilisation of employees. Also, I never knew all staff were required to hold stock in the company. Not sure how I’d go if someone asked me to do that where I work!

Once again, it seems the airline began to unravel once they started to go off their business plan. They originally flew routes that did not compete with major airlines, but once they did, those airlines matched People Express from a pricing perspective.

Acquisitions such as that of Frontier also contributed to the end. Eventually the airline was purchased by Texas Air Corporation and merged into Continental Airlines.

Overall Thoughts

People Express certainly allowed many people to start flying for the first time. Their low fares increased the amount of people flying between cities and the business model, at least in the beginning, worked very well.

Over expansion and trying to change their core model to compete with other carriers led to their eventual downfall. How many times have we seen that play out in the aviation industry?

Did you ever fly with People Express? If so, what were they like? Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.

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Featured image by Aero Icarus on Flickr via Wikimedia Commons.