LEA Readies Mustangs for VLJ Air-taxi Service

 - February 5, 2008, 9:43 AM

London Executive Aviation (LEA) officially unveiled the first of the 10 Cessna Citation Mustangs it has on order during a ceremony at Farnborough Airport on Thursday. The UK company is now preparing to begin charter operations with the four-passenger aircraft around February 18. According to LEA CEO Patrick Margetson-Rushmore, the charter firm 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. Last week, Germany’s Triple Alpha Jet Charter became Europe’s first commercial Mustang operator. Meanwhile, new operator Bikkair, based in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, has also received its first Mustang and plans to have it flying for hire before the end of the month. Very light jet air-taxi service is expected to thrive in Europe because airline service continues to be fragmented and most intra-continent business aviation flights there are short-haul, an ideal environment for small-jet service. The majority of VLJ air-taxi operators in the region are planning to offer whole aircraft on demand, much like LEA, Bikkair and Triple Alpha.