Morris Air Service has signed a lease agreement with Braniff Airlines to have the Dallas-based carrier handle most of Morris' charter service beginning in May, a spokesman said.
Under terms of the agreement, Braniff will service routes from Salt Lake City to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Anchorage, Mazatlan and Cancun. Ports of Call Airline in Denver, which currently handles those flights, will continue to service Morris' discount charter to Hawaii."Because of this new agreement, we will be able to extend to our customers even better service and greater flexibility in terms of lower air fares resulting from our decreased costs," said David Neeleman, executive vice president of Morris Air.
Neeleman declined to say whether this latest move in the local charter air service war will result in another slash in fares.
Morris cut its fares to Los Angeles earlier this year to $59-$79 each way in response to Murdock Travel offering a discounted charter service to southern California on America West Airlines.
Although Morris Air offers the cheapest fares to L.A., it has also been criticized for delays and late arrivals.
Neeleman said that problem, coupled with competition from Murdock and other factors, were reasons why Morris began looking for a more reliable and established carrier to handle its charter business.
"We researched the market extensively to find a carrier that excelled in both safety and customer service," he said. "Braniff, in particular, met our requirements in both of these areas. Last year they had a 95 percent on-time record in charter service."
Neeleman explained that Ports of Call's 707 aircraft are better suited for long haul trips to Hawaii, and that contracting with another carrier for shorter-distance flights would be better for both Morris and Ports of Call.
Morris will lease from Braniff "new generation" 727-200 aircraft. "Braniff is a financially strong air carrier. They recently added 50 new A320 aircraft to their inventory with an option for an additional 50 craft," Neeleman said.
In addition to more aircraft to prevent mechanical delays, Braniff will operate check-in counters and arrival gates.
Neeleman noted that Morris' service to the Bay area in California will move from Oakland to Braniff's operation at San Francisco International Airport.