Make us your home page

Tarpon Springs owner of new airline Jet America had recent bankruptcy

The airline business has a long history of booms and busts.

If new discount airline Jet America becomes a winner, Steve Schoen of Tarpon Springs can claim one of the industry's better turnaround stories.

Chairman of the airline's parent company, Schoen filed for bankruptcy in November 2007 with more than $900,000 in debt. His only assets: a watch, his clothes, proceeds from a $1,500 Social Security check, his wedding ring and a 2004 Subaru.

His debt, mostly owed to credit card and finance companies, resulted from his role as an investor in failed Southeast Airlines based in Largo, says Bryan Glazer, a spokesman for Jet America. But in July 2008, two months after the bankruptcy case closed, Schoen was planning to launch an airline.

Jet America made a splash this week, announcing plans to start flying between Toledo and Newark July 13 with a single leased Boeing 737. The fledgling carrier will soon add flights to Lansing, Mich.; South Bend, Ind.; Minneapolis; and Melbourne on Florida's east coast.

Officials touted $9 fares for at least the first nine seats sold on each trip and charge a top fare of $199 one-way. Checking luggage, reserving a seat — even buying a ticket on the Web site — all incur extra charges.

The architect is Schoen, 67, an owner of Casino Airlink in the 1990s. The company sold vacation packages leaving from St. Petersburg-Clearwater International to Mississippi Gulf Coast casinos.

He was later an investor in Southeast, which abruptly closed days after Thanksgiving 2004, stranding passengers and leaving employees with worthless paychecks. Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport, a Southeast destination, says it also got stiffed.

Schoen failed to make good on a personal guarantee to pay rent for the airline's ticket counter and office space, according to the airport's claim. The $50,000 debt, along with claims of other creditors, was wiped out in court.

Casinos also have hard feelings over how Schoen's airlines stranded customers, said Jeremiah Gerard, director of air service development and business at the airport. "Every time his name comes up, everybody cringes," he said.

Schoen incorporated a company in July 2008 called Sun America, which originally was to operate as Air Azul. The company changed the operating name to Jet America this month and dropped planned flights from Rockford, Ill., and Charleston, W.Va.

Schoen serves as chairman and has no money invested in the airline, says Glazer, the spokesman. He sold the business plan to investors who put up seed money. "You don't need money if you can convince someone to else to put up the money," says Glazer.

Steve Huettel can be reached at or (813) 226-3384.

Tarpon Springs owner of new airline Jet America had recent bankruptcy 05/29/09 [Last modified: Friday, May 29, 2009 8:28pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Will new laws protect condo owners from apartment conversions and rogue associations?

    Real Estate

    Danny Di Nicolantonio has lived in St. Petersburg's Calais Village Condominums for 33 years. Annoyed at times by the actions, or inaction, of the condo board and property managers, he has complained to the state agency that is supposed to investigate.

    That has left him even more annoyed.

    A bill passed by the Florida Legislature would affect places like The Slade in Tampa's Channelside district, where cCondominium owners have battled a plan to convert homes into apartments.
[Times file photo]
  2. Walmart opens first Pinellas County in-house training academy


    Seminole — It had all the hallmarks of a typical graduation: robe-clad graduates marching in to Pomp and Circumstance, friends and family packed together under a sweltering tent and a lineup of speakers encouraging the graduates to take charge of their future.

    New Walmart Academy graduates are congratulated Thursday morning by associates during a graduation ceremony at the Walmart store, 10237 Bay Pines Boulevard, St. Petersburg. The Walmart location is one of the company's training academies where managers complete a one week retail course. David Shultz and Richard Sheehan, both from St. Petersburg, get high fives from the crowd.
[SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]

  3. Lawsuit: Florida contractor fakes death to dodge angry homeowners

    Human Interest

    SEMINOLE — For weeks, Glenn Holland, 67, crawled out of bed before the sun rose to look for a dead man.

    Last year Glenn and Judith Holland said they paid a contractor thousands of dollars to renovate their future retirement home in Seminole. But when they tried to move in on Dec. 14, they said the home was in shambles and uninhabitable. They sent a text message to contractor Marc Anthony Perez at 12:36 p.m. looking for answers. Fourteen minutes later, they got back this text: "This is Marc's daughter, dad passed away on the 7th of December in a car accident. Sorry." Turns out Perez was still alive. Now the Hollands are suing him in Pinellas-Pasco circuit court. [LARA CERRI   |   Times]
  4. Owners to level Port Richey flea market but may rebuild

    Public Safety

    PORT RICHEY — The owners of the recently shuttered USA Flea Market have agreed to demolish all structures on the property, leaving open the possibility of rebuilding the weekend shopping attraction, according to Pasco County officials.

    Pasco County officials shut down the USA Flea Market after it received hundreds of citations for health and code violations.
  5. Kimmins Protégé-Mentor Program a crash course on business know-how



    Williams Landscape Management Company was founded 30 years ago with one employee.

    Marisela Linares and Jorge Castro listen to speakers during a workshop at the Kimmins Contracting Corporation on Wednesday, June 7, 2017.   Kimmins Contracting Corporation is handling road construction projects Jeff Vinik's company as he remakes the Channel District. To do some outreach, the company is partnering with three minority contractors, but it's a unique partnership with Kimmins not only giving them the opportunity, but taking them through a series of workshops. It's essentially providing training to the subcontractors so they will be in position to get other contracts.