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Taking at look at America’s newest airline, Red Way at Lincoln Airport

An Airbus 320 belonging to Global Crossing Airlines, operating as GlobalX, is seen on the tarmac at Cancun International Airport (CUN) on July 2, 2022. - (Photo by Daniel SLIM / AFP)
Photo by DANIEL SLIM/AFP via Getty Images

Nebraska Cornhuskers’ fans may have noticed in the news yesterday that the Lincoln Airport (LNK) is soon to be the operating home of America’s newest “airline” when Red Way begins serving seven destinations starting this June. The new air service is targeting leisure markets out of Lincoln’s airport for twice weekly routes to start.

The new airline service is being marketed as seasonal for now, with frequency increasing on select routes to three a week beginning in September if demand permits. The initial launch will feature a roundtrip flight twice a week to seven destinations out of Lincoln, starting with Orlando and Minneapolis, expanding to Atlanta, Dallas, and Las Vegas, and finishing its initial route offerings with Austin and Nashville.

  • 2x weekly Orlando (MCO) service starts June 8, 2023
  • 2x weekly Minneapolis (MSP) service starts June 8, 2023
  • 2x weekly Atlanta (ATL) service starts June 16, 2023
  • 2x weekly Dallas (DFW) service starts June 16, 2023
  • 2x weekly Las Vegas (LAS) service starts June 16, 2023
  • 2x weekly Austin (AUS) service starts June 24, 2023
  • 2x weekly Nashville (BNA) service starts June 24, 2023

Atlanta, DFW, and Minneapolis are scheduled for three-flights weekly beginning in September. Atlanta service does not have an end date on the schedule, but Austin and Nashville are scheduled to cease seasonal operations Sept. 6, with Orlando and Las Vegas ending on Nov. 2, and DFW and Minneapolis on Nov. 3.

Red Way will be directly selling seats on aircraft on behalf of GlobalX Air Tours, with the aircraft owned and operated by Global Crossing Airlines. Global Crossing was founded in 2018 and commenced operations Aug. 7, 2021. With Red Way acting strictly as sales agent for the operation, it is essentially a “virtual airline” for all intents and purposes, but still essentially qualifies as America’s newest “airline” beginning this June when it launches.

GlobalX is headquartered in Miami and has operating bases in Atlantic City, Las Vegas, and Miami. It operates a fleet of Airbus A320ceo aircraft family, including six A320-200 for passenger service, two A321-200 aircraft for passenger service and one for freighter service, with two A319-100 aircraft on order to be used for government contracts.

Though, there is at least one A319 listed on the company’s website in service per its registration code, but oddly it is listed as an A320 there. More on that, shortly. GlobalX also has other aircraft on order currently in the development phase, but I won’t bore you with the details of those long term growth plans.

Red Way will be operating with an ultra low cost model in mind, marketing bare bones fares starting at just $59. Passengers can add on other options to their fare for a fee, including a carry-on bag, checked bag, seat selection, or extra legroom.

Flights are available on sale now directly on Red Way’s website. The configuration provided at booking suggests that GlobalX is launching with A320 aircraft, including N282GX and N283GX, though N283GX is listed on GlobalX’s website as having the same layout despite the fact it is actually an A319.

The former aircraft, N282GX, was leased to Virginia America after assembly in France and later used briefly by Alaska Airlines before ending the lease. The 17 year old A320-214 is now leased to GlobalX. N283GX was initially leased by Mexicana Airlines from 2006-2010, by Avianca from 2011-2016, Cobalt 2016-2018, and HiFly Malta from 2019-2021. It is scheduled for delivery soon to GlobalX on lease.

The choice for Lincoln and destinations are an interesting one to an extent. LNK has been reduced to just United Express flights to Chicago, Houston, and Denver after Delta had to cut service due to a national pilot shortage affecting regional airline operations in 2022. Delta was unable to sustain service in the wake of staff issues despite feeding flights into its Atlanta hub until 2020 and Minneapolis until 2022. Allegiant also served a Las Vegas route until 2009.

According to 2019 roundtrip passenger counts assembled by Simply Flying, Atlanta saw 10,200 passengers and Minneapolis 21,800. After that, Orlando was next highest at 5,500 and Las Vegas next with 4,400. No other destination saw more than 3,600 passengers at most, though none at that point had direct service.

Regardless, this is a massive influx of seats to the market. At its peak, DOT data suggests that Lincoln averaged around 400 passengers per day and is now down to around 300 as of Sept. 2022 (most recent available count). Presuming the 150-seat explanation is correct for GlobalX aircraft being used for the routes, that’s an influx of 300 seats per day to bring it to around 600.

GlobalX CEO Ed Wegel was confident of their research into partnering with Red Way to open Lincoln services, however:

“Lincoln represents the very best of America. Hometown values, hardworking citizens and a real zest for capitalism . . . We’ve looked at the numbers. There’s been a lot of research and analysis that’s gone into this, and we know that this is a winner.”

It also helped that the American Rescue Plan Act provided $3 million in funds via the City of Lincoln to provide a big boost in start-up costs for the airline service, however, as well. It would not be the first time a service has started seasonal operations using a separate charter airline’s aircraft, either.

Apple Vacations, for example, uses charter services to market vacation packages out of a number of Midwest airports, from larger fields like Milwaukee to smaller ones like Lansing. Though not a perfect comparison to what Red Ways will offer, still a helpful example that it can be done, even if the scale is significantly smaller in total volume.