Despite Bad Press Over Recent Mishaps
Forget, for a moment, the Montrose, CO, accident involving ABC
executive Dick Ebersol. Forget last week's mishap at Teterboro
Airport in New Jersey. The demand for charter air services is
soaring nationwide and accidents like those simply don't seem to be
making a dent in the psyche of the charter-flying public.
With that in mind, the Pittsburgh Business Times reports charter
operators are on a buying spree, picking up more aircraft in
anticipation of growing demand that, at this point, shows no sign
of slacking off.
With those new aircraft are coming new employees who are
crossing over from commercial airline operations. The Journal
points out much of the uncertainty over the future of air travel in
Pittsburgh is fueled by the recent hard times which have befallen
Take, for instance, Voyager Jet Center, based at Allegheny
County Airport. There, company president Rich Ryan says three of
his A&Ps and two of his pilots came from US Airways. And if
more want to cross the line between commercial and charter, Ryan
says, he'll be happy to talk with them.
Karl Foerster crossed over two years ago after he was laid off
from US Airways. Now, he's Voyager's chief pilot and the vice
president of operations.
"When I found Voyager Jet, it was a small company that I quickly
realized was going to be a great player," Foerster told the
Business Times. "I wanted to be a part of this." He says the some
20-percent of his former cockpit colleagues have made the jump so
Another charter outfit based near Pittsburgh, LJ Aviation, is
also adding planes and people. That company's president, Edward
Kilkeary, says he's growing at up to 12-percent a year.
"People are less than thrilled (with commercial airlines). They
are willing to pay more to fly privately," Kilkeary told the
Pittsburgh paper. "This has been a trend throughout the market
because most of the first-class travelers have all gone to private
Yet another -- Corporate Air Management -- says it's growing by
20-percent a year.
Kevin McKinney, senior sales manager at Vee Neal Aviation, based
at Arnold Palmer Regional Airport, says he's seen tremendous growth
since 9/11 and the exponential security increases the airline
industry has seen ever since. "People are trying to get away from
the TSA lines that hold them up, and they feel more secure when
they know the people on the airplane," he told the Business
At the National Business Travel Association, spokesman Caleb
Tiller says the charter situation in Pittsburgh is something of a
classic spiral. He thinks the loss of at least some US Airways
flights in Pittsburgh will be a boon to charter operators.
"If there are fewer flights out of Pittsburgh, it is likely that
commercial flights are going to cost more, which would make
corporate jets more attractive," he told the Business Times.