SkyWest Airlines founder Ralph Atkin is trying to to establish a Vienna-headquartered regional carrier for flights into Italy and eastern Europe.
The carrier, called euroSKY, has only one airplane. It flies out of Vienna on a circuit serving Wroclaw, Poland; Kosice, Slovakia; and Trieste, Italy.In October, Atkin expects to add two additional 19-seat Metroliners, the same type of plane used for many years by St. George-based SkyWest. Then, he will add routes from Vienna to Verona, Italy; Debrecen, Hungary; and Ostrava in the Czech Republic.
During the next few weeks, he plans to move his family from St. George to Austria "for at least two or three years" while he works to see euroSKY's fleet grow to at least 15 airplanes.
Atkin's investors include a group of Utah business executives he declines to identify. There also are partners from Prague, Vienna and Slovenia.
He said eastern Europe is devoid of regional service. Vienna is perfect as a launch pad because it is centrally located with a modern airport and has long been considered the gateway to the east, he said.
Atkin does have an early jump on a variety of potential competitors - American and European, according to Scott Hamilton, who edits an international industry trade magazine, Commercial Aviation Report.
"He may be the only individual doing it, but some established airlines are getting into creating regional carriers in Europe," Hamilton said.