Regional flights are becoming increasingly expensive for both airlines and consumers. As airlines continue to roll back their short-haul flight programs, a more pragmatic competitor sealed a venture capital investment this week in its attempt to revolutionize short-haul travel in the United States.
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Landline, which operates an expanding bus network in the Midwest, was founded last year by David Sunde with the vision of connecting isolated minor cities with major metropolitan hubs. The company reportedly secured a $3.85 million investment led by Los Angeles-based Upfront Ventures.
Landline's initial service offerings launched this June, connecting Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport with isolated regional cities Duluth and Mankato. Confirmed future services will connect the airport with six more cities in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa. But the most intriguing development for the company is its partnership with Sun Country Airlines.
Starting in November, Landline bus routes will operate in conjunction with Sun Country. Customers can book a bus between the airport and any Landline destination as part of their itinerary, and critically, the companies will work together to accomodate displaced passengers. "Unforeseen circumstances can delay road or air travel," Landline's website reads. "Should this occur, you will automatically be rebooked on the next available Landline or flight."
The three-hour trip between Duluth and Minneapolis costs as little as $5 each way (fares during peak times start at $9) and Landline allows a full-size bag, carry-on and personal item free of charge. Further, baggage will be checked at the bus stop by Landline and will meet customers at their final destination, eliminating the need to check in at the airport desk.
Bus-to-flight connections are common in Europe, where German airline Lufthansa maintains a strong network of these routes, but only one other route of its kind exists on this side of the Atlantic - a United bus service between Allentown, Pa. and Newark, N.J.
Landline plans to change all of that, and its ability to secure the attention of investors indicates it might be onto something.