Gatherings of Mustangs with European charter firms

 - February 26, 2008, 6:06 AM

Very light jet (VLJ) charter operations are on the rise in Europe with the service entry of the first Cessna Citation Mustangs. During the last week of January, Germany’s Triple Alpha Jet Charter became the continent’s first commercial operator of the four-passenger aircraft from its Dusseldorf headquarters. The approximate charter rate will be n1,800 ($2,600) per hour.

The UK’s London Executive Aviation (LEA) received the first of its 10 Mustangs on January 31 and was preparing to begin operations around February 18. It is set to take delivery of two more jets next month and another two in May. Meanwhile, new operator Bikkair, based at Rotterdam in the Netherlands, has also received its first Mustang and planned to be flying it for hire by the end of last month.

According to chief executive Patrick Margetson-Rushmore, LEA will be able to operate the Mustang for about 25 to 30 percent less than the Citation Bravo. Its base charter rate will be £1,200 ($2,400) per flight hour.

The British operator might offer reduced one-way charter rates when it has enough Mustangs to base some of them at airports farther south in Europe, such as those near France’s popular Mediterranean resorts. LEA’s Mustang operations have been placed under the command of Capt. Graham Foley, who will manage the company’s dedicated VLJ team.