The Air Taxi Association was officially launched today as a way to bring together companies that operate principally VLJs on a per-seat, on-demand basis, though at least one operator is using piston-driven Cirrus SR22s for the job. The eight founding members include familiar names such as budding Eclipse 500 operator DayJet, as well as some lesser-known start-ups such as Atlanta’s Imagine Air and Switzerland’s Jetbird.
JetBird, the planned low-cost air charter service, caused quite a stir at the 2006 EBACE exhibition when it ordered 50 of Embraer’s Phenom 100 very light jets and optioned another 50. Speaking exclusively to EBACE Convention News before this year’s show, JetBird managing director Paul Gearney confirmed that the order still stands and that the operator expects to begin flying in April 2009.
Embraer’s European unveiling of its Phenom 100 very light and 300 light jet full-scale cabin mockups here yesterday provided a platform for the Phenom’s fleet launch customer, start-up charter operator JetBird of Zurich, to announce the launch of its low-cost service.
Zurich-based startup JetBird announced it ordered 50 Phenom 100s, a very light jet under development by Embraer, for a planned European on-demand air taxi service. The $140-million contract includes an option to purchase 50 additional aircraft over five years and allows JetBird to convert its positions into either the four-passenger Phenom 100 or the nine-passenger Phenom 300, a light jet also under development by Embraer.
The much-anticipated very light jet (VLJ) air-taxi market is beginning to take shape with operators gearing up for the start of service in the eastern U.S. and Europe. VLJ fractional ownership companies also have been formed in Canada and California, a sure sign that the era of the VLJ is about to begin in earnest.
A Zurich-based start-up charter operator announced at EBACE last month its plans to place into “low-cost, on-demand” charter service a fleet of Embraer Phenom 100s by mid-2009, the first of two European operators to make public their programs to base their charter fleets, at least initially, on very light jets.
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