SOURCE: Million Air

August 22, 2006 08:30 ET

Requests for Charter Surge by 50 Percent for Million Air's Charter Divisions

HOUSTON, TX -- (MARKET WIRE) -- August 22, 2006 -- As a result of increased delays and inconveniences tied to commercial airline travel, Million Air Charter, the private jet aircraft transportation division of the Million Air fixed-base operation (FBO) chain, has seen a 50 percent surge in air charter requests in one week.

Since Aug. 10, Million Air's charter requests have risen to a level comparable to the holiday season. Those requests have been equally split between domestic and international flights.

Roger Woolsey, president and chief executive officer of Million Air, said most reservations have been made by business travelers.

"There are three prices to doing business -- the out of pocket dollar of the transaction, the access cost of doing business with a company and the quality of the output," Woolsey said. "Right now with the changes in commercial aviation, a business' access costs, or in this case travel costs, are through the roof. What used to be a daytrip now requires an overnight stay. Productivity is suffering because business professionals lose valuable hours of their workday standing in long lines at commercial airports. They also can't depend on the reliability of commercial schedules or the availability of flights. Private charter travel alleviates those hassles and actually helps companies lower their cost of doing business."

Million Air offers response times as fast as one-hour for reservations, worldwide operations, gourmet catering and limo service as a few of the added customer service benefits.

"Chartering a private airplane is not just for the rich and famous, as most people tend to think," Woolsey said. "To put it in perspective, the cost is slightly more than a first-class commercial airline ticket. When you consider the incidental costs of flying commercial, such as hotel stays and meals, not to mention the lost employee productivity time, the value of charter far exceeds commercial travel. The customer is in control, enabling employees to return home the same night to enjoy quality time with family and friends -- you can't put a price on that."

Drent Sarault, vice president of Million Air Charter, believes there is a misconception about the air charter traveler. Only 14 percent of Million Air's charter customers are top managers, such as CEOs and presidents. The other 86 percent are middle managers and other professional staff members.

"Air charter travel is a cost-effective way for businesses to connect with their customers all over the country," Sarault said. "Commercial airlines only travel to 558 airports around the U.S., while private aircraft can access 15,000 private airports in cities of all sizes across the country, making it much more convenient to reach your customers."

"It's difficult to predict how long this spike will last," Woolsey said. "But, I believe any luxury product or service used once becomes a necessity. Once someone experiences the convenience of air charter travel, they will truly see the value. As long as it remains difficult to fly on commercial airlines, I think more people are going to explore air charter options."

Million Air, one of the largest aviation service providers in the world, provides upscale, private jet and FBO services. Headquartered in Houston, the company operates a network of 30 FBO locations in the United States, Canada and the Caribbean. Its charter divisions, which consist of large and medium size jets, turbo-props, and helicopters, operate charters worldwide from strategic locations across North America. For more information, visit www.millionair.com.

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