As airline service becomes more and more difficult, and takes more and more time, business groups are looking for alternatives. If the company is big enough it can acquire its very own aircraft and pilot, thus enabling it to travel when and where it wants to. But for others this isn't practical.
Two businessmen, John Beardsley and Kent Craford, decided to start their very own airline to fly from Portland to Seattle and back. Their first idea was to use floatplanes (given the water all around them), but the logistical problems were too great. Day flights only, to slow and accident prone.
Enter the Pilatus PC-12. This single engine turboprop can make the trip in a mere 35 minutes, burn 55 gallons of jet fuel, and requires one pilot to carry 7 passengers with a one-way fare of between $ 149 and $ 224. The new airline is called "SeaPort Air Group, and will operate 8 round trips Monday through Friday with 5 round trips on weekends.
By avoiding the TSA hassle and the ability to use smaller, closer in airports, more and more of these operators will spring up to replace traditional airline service in areas where it makes sense. Today it takes at least a full day to travel from any point A to any point B, not counting delays, lost baggage and the hassle of TSA.
General aviation continues to find solutions to the traveling publics needs which are innovative, and with the increased safety of turbine powered aircraft combined with excellent pilots and pilot training, these operations should fill a real need for businessmen traveling.
Keep your eyes peeled for more and more of these operations as airline travel continues to deteriorate, mergers continue to eliminate routes, and the airlines left standing fill their aircraft to capacity (and oversell their seats).
Until next time keep your wings straight and level Hersch!