“When you’re on ATA, you’re on vacation,” used to be the airline’s marketing slogan. But the 10th largest airline in the U.S., American Trans Air (ATA), has shed its vacation-only image to attract more business passengers by cutting Part 121 charter service, expanding its scheduled service and upgrading to the newest fleet in the industry.
Charter and Fractional » Charter
News and issues concerning the aviation charter industry and markets, including company announcements, regulations, new developments and labor issues.
The Transportation Security Administration’s revised final Private Charter Standard Security Program (PCSSP) released on New Year’s Eve removes the Global Express from inclusion in passenger and baggage screening requirements. At the same time, the revised program adds a minimum seating configuration that expands coverage to aircraft that wouldn’t have been covered solely under a weight determination.
Vee Neal Aviation will expand its charter and management business into corporate shuttle operations using a leased Saab 340A. The Latrobe, Pa. company is the first Part 135 operator to order the 30-passenger twin turboprop for corporate transportation, according to Saab Aircraft Leasing in Washington. A Saab official said the aircraft should be delivered to Vee Neal by mid-month.
On Friday, Sentient Jet Holdings completed its acquisition of Van Nuys, Calif.-based charter/management firm The Air Group. The purchase of the Southern California business occurred before Sentient finalized its acquisition of TAG Aviation USA, which is said to be imminent.
In a December 13 SEC amendment for its initial public stock offering, Pogo Jet provided more information about its planned very light jet (VLJ) charter service. Pogo now expects to begin service in the first quarter of next year and should have 25 Eclipse 500s by the end of that year and up to 115 by the end of 2011, according to the filing.
Don Burr and Bob Crandall exude confidence for their intended new venture, Pogo, but the air-taxi concept is not a matter of belief, nor is the outlook for it dire or grim; the concept is simply immature.
First, to bring the issue into sharper focus, it is important to distinguish between the very light jet (VLJ) itself and the air-taxi concept.
Charter broker Air Partner has seen a 40-percent increase in executive aircraft bookings over the past year. In an October 6 statement, which reported significantly improved financial results for the year ending July 31, the UK-based group said that business aircraft charters had increased most markedly during May, June and July and that many of these bookings were from financial institutions.
To survive in a business as highly competitive as air charter, you must constantly change and reinvent yourself. So goes the conventional wisdom and, indeed, many of the oldest charter companies in the U.S. now tout products that didn’t even exist when they began operation. Some sell so-called “jet cards.” Others have merged or been swallowed by bigger firms.
The FAA has postponed until November 29 the compliance deadline for a controversial flight standards handbook bulletin that addresses aircraft configuration and maintenance programs for aircraft operated under Part 135.
The NTSB wants the FAA to emphasize the need for pilots, particularly those in single-pilot Part 135 operations, to provide “timely emergency briefings.” The Safety Board’s recommendation follows its investigation into the July 13, 2003, fatal ditching of a scheduled Part 135 Cessna 402 in the water off the Bahamas after one engine failed at 3,500 feet msl.