European block charter gets a facelift

 - May 5, 2008, 10:15 AM

UK block-charter firm European Skytime has introduced a new “First Step” alternative to its Flight Commitment program. The new option offers lower flight-hour rates for companies willing to nominate a local airport as their home base for all trips. Initially, 25 UK airports are being targeted for the program, including Gloucestershire Staverton (where European Skytime is based), Cambridge and Norwich.

Pricing starts at £750 ($1,125) per flight hour in a four-passenger Piper Seneca. This can be switched to an eight-seat Piper Chieftain for £1,125 ($1,700) and to a Cessna Citation Bravo for £2,850 ($4,275). The lowest prices for the Seneca and Chieftain are generally available out of airports in southern England, where the charter operators that European Skytime uses are more plentiful.

Customers have to commit to blocks of between 25 and 50 hr and receive a 5-percent discount for doing so. Same-day round trips receive a 30-percent discount, and journeys with a single night stop are reduced by 20 percent. Taxiing time of 12 min is factored into each bill.

European Skytime director Steve Westlake told AIN that “First Step” is aimed at introducing companies to executive charter at more affordable entry-level rates than those available in other block-charter or fractional-ownership programs. He has enlisted the regional airports to help market the new service.

Separately, in anticipation of European aviation authorities finally approving single-engine commercial IFR operations, the UK company has been looking into the availability of Socata TBM 700s and Pilatus PC-12s for its charter programs. However, in Westlake’s view, both of these turboprop singles are currently priced too high in Europe to compete with Beech King Airs and light jets.