Mercury unveils its new Easy Trip purchase card

 - November 14, 2007, 9:32 AM

Mercury Air Centers in conjunction with GE Capital Financial and Aviation Logistics (Avlog) introduced last month a MasterCard purchasing program specifically for business aviation operators. The Atlanta-based FBO chain also announced affiliations with Starbucks Coffee and UltraJet air charter.

The Mercury Easy Trip card is a universal bankcard “available as a business tool for customers to use in managing their travel expenses,” according to Mercury Air Centers v-p and COO John Enticknap. He said the card is designed to replace the multiple charge cards now carried by flight crews and emphasized that the card is good for virtually all transactions at any FBO, not just the 19 Mercury locations.

Enticknap said that one of the unique aspects of the Easy Trip card is that all transaction details for each flight and all other related trip expenses can be accessed online at any time and are updated within 48 hr of each charge. GE Capital Financial of Salt Lake City, is underwriting the Easy Trip card and Houston-based Avlog assisted Mercury in developing the co-branded card.

Other notable features Mercury points out about its new Easy Trip card: it can be pre-authorized for one-of-a-kind purchases for a specified amount, such as for fuel only; charges can be posted to a specified account, flight number or project code; and online transaction data can be presented in a cardholder-specified format.
Merchants accepting the card will benefit from reduced processing fees, according to Mercury. No details on these fees were available at press time.

Among the new amenities customers can now expect to find at all Mercury FBOs is Starbucks coffee. The FBO chain brews in excess of 500,000 cups of coffee annually and, as with most FBO chains, the brand of coffee has varied by location. “What we want to do is bring the highest level of courteous, prompt and consistent service to all our locations,” Enticknap explained.

In addition to serving only Starbucks coffee, all Mercury FBOs offer only Chevron fuel, as well as laptop modem stations with Internet access, audiovisual conference facilities, pilot briefing rooms with weather and flight-planning services and complimentary crew cars. There are also free chocolate chip cookies to go with the Starbucks coffee at all locations.

In partnership with UltraJet of Cleveland, Mercury is launching Easy Charter, an online air-taxi reservation service that will be available from all FBO locations and via the Internet or telephone. Mercury said the Web-based program allows a charter customer to obtain information on charter aircraft and rates and to schedule and book trips.

UltraJet is the national charter broker affiliated with, but separate from, AvBase Aviation, an aircraft charter/management firm also headquartered in Cleveland. AvBase aircraft, when available, will be used for Mercury’s Easy Charter program.
Currently, AvBase operates two Gulfstream 200s (nee Galaxy), a Citation III and Ultra, a Learjet 31A and 35 and a Hawker 400. When AvBase aircraft are not available, Easy Charter customers will receive information from AvBase pre-selected air-taxi operators within 150 mi of each Mercury location. An AvBase official told AIN that Easy Charter operators must meet certain requirements in terms of insurance, training, aircraft interiors and more.

Easy Trip and Easy Charter are the latest offerings meant to support Mercury’s new motto: “We make it easy!” Earlier this year, Mercury rolled out Easy Turn, an online reservation system that goes beyond just facilitating an advance request for fuel and a car. Through Easy Turn, customers can make advance requests for an exact amount of fuel and other services desired, such as APU, de-icing fluid, hangar space, lavatory service and ice. Additionally, Easy Turn can be used to specify a price and order specific catering items, from ham, turkey, roast beef and club sandwiches to various size food and dessert trays. Hotel reservation requests can include bed size and non-smoking rooms. A newspaper can even be ordered in advance.

Mercury, a unit of Los Angeles-based Mercury Air Group, started with five FBO locations in 1995, is now at 19 locations and is looking to acquire more facilities.
The company is in a continuous process of renovating and expanding at many of its locations. For example, Mercury dedicated a new hangar and tenant office on August 24 at its Hanscom Field FBO in Bedford, Mass.

The 38,000-sq-ft facility includes a 30,000-sq-ft hangar bay that can accommodate GVs or Global Expresses. In addition to the bay, there are 8,000 sq ft of office and shop space available for tenants. The new facility will be equipped with a “full galley for food preparation, in addition to a dishwasher, clothes washer and dryer and an ice machine.”