Make us your home page

USA 3000 to end service at St. Petersburg-Clearwater airport

Discount airline USA 3000 will cease flying to St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport in August as part of a wider retreat in Florida.

USA 3000, owned by the parent of Philadelphia-based Apple Vacations, ranks as the small airport's second-largest airline, carrying 30 percent of passengers. "It's a large loss," said Noah Lagos, the airport's executive director. "They flew 300,000 people last year. We were very surprised."

The airline, which makes 21 weekly flights at the airport, will stop service on Aug. 19. It also will cease operations in Melbourne (Aug. 1) and Fort Lauderdale (Aug. 19) and won't resume seasonal service in Sarasota in October, said Angus Kinnear, chief operating officer for USA 3000. The airline will continue flying to Fort Myers, he said.

Like other carriers, USA 3000 is struggling with record fuel prices. After summer vacation season, traffic drops off and fares go down in Florida, he said. "In September and October, we were looking at a big, black hole," Kinnear said.

Launched in 2000, the airline carries Apple tour customers early in the day, then switches to scheduled public flights. USA 3000 flies from the local airport to Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and St. Louis.

The airline will keep making scheduled flights between those cities — plus Cincinnati, Baltimore and Columbus, Ohio — to destinations in Mexico and the Caribbean, Kinnear said.

Florida has some of the lowest domestic air fares in the country and only Fort Myers fetches ticket prices high enough to make money with oil at $125 a barrel, he said. Customers booked on discontinued flights will be contacted and receive refunds on their credit cards.

With USA 3000 and Allegiant Air flying a combined 80 percent of passengers, St. Petersburg-Clearwater International was poised for its best year since 2004.

Recruiting another big carrier will be a tall order. Only two airlines, Allegiant and Southwest, made money in the first quarter of 2008. Several smaller ones — ATA, Skybus and Aloha among them — went out of business in recent months.

"The tone of the industry is to hunker down and try to keep what you've got," Lagos said. "There's not a ready replacement for USA 3000."

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

USA 3000 to end service at St. Petersburg-Clearwater airport 05/14/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 20, 2008 5:00pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Nearly 1 in 4 Tampa Bay homeowners considered equity rich

    Real Estate

    If your home is worth at least 50 percent more than you owe, you're rich — equity rich that is.

    About one in four Tampa Bay homeowners are considered "equity rich." [Associated Press file photo]
  2. The FHP trooper behind quota on speeding tickets will retire Sept. 5

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — A Florida Highway Patrol official's call for troopers to meet ticket quotas has cost him his job.

    Major Mark D. Welch, Troop Commander of Troop H, wrote an email asking his employees that he wants them to write two citations each hour. "This is not a quota," he wrote. His resignation is effective Sept. 5. [Florida Highway Patrol]
  3. Trump shuts down CEO advisory councils as main group acts to disband


    President Donald Trump's main council of top corporate leaders disbanded on Wednesday following the president's controversial remarks in which he equated white nationalist hate groups with the protesters opposing them. Soon after, the president announced on Twitter that he would end his executive councils, "rather than …

    President Donald Trump meets with Merck's chief executive, Kenneth Frazier, second from left, and other leaders of the pharmaceutical industry in the Roosevelt Room of the White House last January. On Wednesday, Trump's main council of top corporate leaders disbanded following the president's controversial remarks in which he equated white nationalist hate groups with the protesters opposing them.
[New York Times file photo]
  4. A long-awaited vision for Tampa's Westshore Marina District

    Real Estate

    TAMPA —Eleven years after plans to develop a waterfront tract on the Tampa side of the Gandy Bridge were first announced, a new rendering gives a hint of what Westshore Marina District ultimately will look like.

    Rendering of Marina Pointe, a condo project overlooking Tampa Bay as part of the Westshore Marina District. [Courtesy of Masterfile Corp.}
  5. Buddy Brew Coffee to open downtown Tampa location


    TAMPA — Buddy Brew Coffee plans to open a new location in downtown Tampa at Park Tower in early 2018. The specialty coffee craft roaster, which was founded in 2010, has five other locations throughout Tampa including the Oxford Exchange, Sarasota, Hyde Park Village and Terminal F inside the Tampa International …

    A cappuccino is displayed at Buddy Brew in Tampa in January 2017. [CHARLIE KAIJO | Times]