US company offers 'on demand' air travel

Chartering an airplane may always have seemed like the preserve of millionaires, movie icons and sports stars.

A new development is travel is allowing the aircraft to come to the passenger instead of the other way around.

A new development is travel is allowing the aircraft to come to the passenger instead of the other way around. Image by ImagineAir

An American company is hoping to change all that and put private air travel in the reach of small companies and even groups of family or friends.

ImagineAir offers what they call 'on demand air travel' relying on a network of thousands of small and medium-sized airports that are dotted right throughout the United States.

Rather than fly in and out of major commercial airports – many of which are full to capacity – they stick primarily to the local airports, bringing passengers virtually door to door.

Dave Kalinske, ImagineAir chief operating officer, told Lonely Planet: ‘We are trying to create a paradigm shift in air travel, where instead of you going to the aeroplane, the aeroplane comes to you.’

Fares for the average return trip work out at around US$1200, but can sometimes come in at less than a thousand dollars.

However, if a group of three is travelling, and the ImagineAir option cuts out what otherwise might be connecting flights or having to overnight in another city, the private air taxi can quickly become economical.

Small group of friends or family planning to travel on a special occasion, or treat themselves to business class, have also been using the low fares charter flights.

There are other advantages of course: no luggage fees, no lengthy queues at check-in or security gates, and delays or cancellations become highly unlikely.

Mr Kalinske said: ‘We are bringing private air travel to a new type of passenger. We operate [mainly] across the east coast but we can go anywhere [in the US]. Landing fees are minimal, much lower than the hub airports and we can get into the smaller airfields.’

He said their clientele was a mixture of business and pleasure, around 75% corporate and the remaining 25% made up of personal travel.

ImagineAir said they were concentrating on building up their current fleet with the aim of eventually expanding into Europe and the rest of the world.

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