Allied Forces Launches Military Action in Libya

In a bold declaration, the Allied forces of the United States, France, Britain and several other European countries launched attacks against the military forces of Muammar Kaddafi today. A senior official of the French government had stated that Mirage and Rafale jet fighters have already been deployed and could bomb several locations in Libya, including locations in Tripoli and Benghazi that are controlled by Kaddafi.

On Saturday, the conflict between the Kaddafi forces and the Allied countries escalated when Kaddafi sent troops through Benghazi despite declarations of a cease-fire from the international community. This insurgence could complicate matters for bombers and jet fighters as it mixes both the allied forces and the Kaddafi’s troops in one location. Allied forces are worried that they might hit ‘friendly’ target when they are ordered to attack Kaddafi’s forces.

On the same day, the United States, France, Britain and 19 other countries held an emergency summit in Paris. In the meeting, they had agreed to put in place necessary means to make Kaddafi respect the UN’s Security Council resolution demanding a cease fire in the area. Necessary means had included the use of military force by the allied countries. The resolution was announced by French President Nicolas Sarkozy, one of the leaders in the Allied front.

“In accord with our partners, our air forces will oppose any aggression by Col. Kaddafi’s airplanes against the population of Benghazi. Already, our planes are preventing air attacks against the city. Already, other French planes are ready to intervene against tanks that would threaten unarmed civilians,” said Sarkozy in a statement.

The allied forces had previously warned Kaddafi and his regime that they would resort to military force should Kaddafi break the cease-fire resolution given by the U.N. After the incursion in Benghazi, military buildup had increased in the region. Six Danish F-16 fighters landed on a US airbase in Sicily, American F-18s and Canadian CF-18 Hornets were also deployed in the area. Italy has also offered the use of their 7 air and navy bases in the region.

Britain, France and the United States were among the most formidable backers of a resolution passed by the U.N. declaring a cease-fire and a no fly-zone over Libya. Also present in Saturday’s summit were Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa, Qatar’s emir Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani, foreign ministers of Jordan, Moroccan and the United Arab Emirates, and the United States’ own representative, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton.

New Airlines Startups are Competing for Air Space

The US airline business appears to be profitable again, that for most domestic lines. What makes it profitable is there are plenty of good airplanes available at bargain prices. These two combinations are luring some airline hopefuls into the airline business like bees to pollen.

Recently there have been five airline startups announced to the media. Two have recently started operations and three are making claims they are close.

Of the new startups three of the five are following the Allegiant model (low cost leisure travel service), by concentrating on smaller cities and dodging direct competition with the big industry players. The other two are focusing their efforts on the Las Vegas market.

The strategy that today’s startups use is that they either already have planes and are crewed as charter operators or have plans to contract their flying out to other charter operators. This way the upfront capital requirements are minimized and they are able to bypass most of the government red tape of startup airlines.

Two of the recent startups are Direct Air and Vision Airlines. Direct Air is an Allegiant business model clone. Direct Air flies to Myrtle Beach, S.C., and several Florida destinations, including Melbourne and West Palm Beach from the smaller regional cities as Kalamazoo, Mich., Niagara Falls, Rockford, Ill., Worcester, Mass., and a few larger cities. Flight frequencies range from two to five flights a week depending on seasonality and most flights are direct. Airplanes are a mix of MD88 and 737 models, all one class. In addition to the airfare, baggage fees are $25 for the first and $30 for the second for in advance bookings and more for at the airport.

Vision airlines follows the Allegiant business model based around charter operation at startup, now with an extended scheduled network. Its destinations are small and mid-sized cities to and from Destin/Fort Walton Beach, in Florida. Among the cities it’s currently servicing are Baton Rouge, La., Greenville, S.C., Huntsville, Ala., Niagara Falls, N.Y., and Shreveport, La. Only a few flights bypass the Florida hub. Most flights are in 737s or small 30-seat turboprop Dornier 328s and operate only once to three times weekly.

In addition to the basic airfare, Vision charges for checked baggage ranging from $15 for one bag to $30 for the second, while advance seat allocation, sodas and snacks are all free. As with Direct Air, Vision promotes hotel packages and holiday deals.

Industry insiders are not surprise that these recent startups imitate Allegiant. They are by far the most profitable (margins) of any U.S. airline. To date neither Direct Air nor Vision seems to be causing Allegiant’s any headaches anywhere, but that could change.