As aircraft membership club Wheels Up celebrates its first anniversary next Friday, founder and CEO Kenny Dichter said the company has expanded in line with initial projections and he predicted even more growth in the coming year. “We currently have 28 airplanes, nearly 600 members and are on target for meeting and exceeding our business objectives. In a short time, we are a major player in the private aviation industry,” he said.
Charter and Fractional
News and issues concerning the aviation charter and fractional-ownership industries and markets, including company announcements, regulations, new developments and labor issues.
The EASA issued a long-awaited notice of proposed amendment (NPA) on Thursday that would allow commercially operated single-engine turbine aircraft to fly at night and in IMC throughout Europe. EASA regulators said that some member states, as well as third-country operators, already allow some of their operators to conduct commercial single-engine IFR (SEIFR) flights under an exemption to EU-OPS rules, creating an “uneven playing field.”
Royal Jet, Abu Dhabi’s luxury air charter operator, postponed its major fleet-replacement orders until the second half of the year after a board meeting last month. However, the company hopes an eventual delivery schedule will not be affected by this delay.
Regional fractional provider Executive AirShare’s operating arm, Executive Flight Services, earned International Standard for Business Aircraft Operations (IS-BAO) certification. Executive Flight Services earned IS-BAO Stage One certification following an audit of its safety management system, organization and personnel, standard operating procedures, training programs, flight operations, aircraft equipment and maintenance requirements. Executive AirShare operates 50 aircraft in its fractional and managed fleets from bases in six Central U.S. cities and Buffalo, N.Y.
Online charter hub Returnjet is extending free access to aircraft availability data to brokers in a bid to challenge the market dominance of rival portal Avinode. The change will also allow operators that have registered their fleets with the site to have complimentary access to the real-time data.
Operators will continue to pay a 3-percent “introduction fee” for any flight conducted as a result of customer contact from the site. Returnjet plans to introduce reduced introduction fees for flights booked by brokers.
As onboard Wi-Fi proliferates in the business jet fleet, the Baltic Air Charter Association (BACA) issued guidelines yesterday for charter brokers in an effort to stem billing surprises to clients after flights are completed. The association said it is “vital that brokers keep on top of technological and other service developments and that any potential hidden costs of a charter are considered and dealt with in advance.”
The Air Charter Association of North America (Acana) and Air Charter Safety Foundation (ACSF) have teamed to raise standards for the air charter industry, to include Part 135 and 121 operators and air charter brokers. The two associations are collaborating on the development and implementation of best practices “that will lead the air charter industry,” said Acana chairman and co-founder Scott Bickford.
A new seaplane service connecting New York City with Boston and Washington, D.C., will make its debut this month. Tailwind Air Service has partnered with established New England seaplane operator and charter provider Fly the Whale and will conduct morning flights aimed at business travelers, using amphibious Cessna 208 Caravans departing 23rd Street on Manhattan’s East River.
Air France unveiled the details of its partnership with executive charter operator Wijet for first-class connections. Starting today, passengers of the “La Première” cabin on long-haul flights from Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport can buy an optional connecting flight to and from their final destination aboard one of Wijet’s Cessna Citation Mustangs.
Vilnius, Lithuania-based air charter firm KlasJet started operations this week after receiving its air operator certificate (AOC) from the Lithuanian CAA late last month. Its first charter trip was a three-hour flight to a Mediterranean resort. KlasJet launched its operations with a VIP-outfitted Bombardier CRJ200 and Challenger 850. It plans to operate up to 10 business jets. The carrier’s fleet is supported by Avia Solutions Group and its subsidiaries.
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