Air-taxi bidding site goes online

 - April 2, 2007, 5:56 AM

A group of airline and corporate pilots has established BidQwest, an online site where air taxis can bid on charter flight requests.

A spokesman told AIN that BidQwest (www.bidqwest.com), which went online in February, now has nearly 70 air-taxi companies “safety qualified” to bid. Safety audits are done continuously by Aviation Research Group/U.S. of Cincinnati, including background checks of flight crews 24 hours before departure, according to the spokesman.

Operators can view the bids of their competitors during the bidding process. Also, passengers can request a safety audit of a specific operator. BidQwest said there is no charge for passengers to request bids or for air taxis to make them; nor are passengers required to keep a debit account from which fares would be drawn.

Other than payment by credit card, which carries a fee, BidQwest said checks for payments are deposited in an escrow account to protect them from being lost if a flight is canceled due to any number of reasons, including BidQwest going out of business, the company emphasized.

A markup percentage of the final, agreed-to fare goes to BidQwest, but the company preferred not to share the details.