“We’ve seen a spectacular increase in the interest for charter,” says Carver. According to Kupresin, charter is up some 33 percent in 2005 over 2004. “Business as a whole has increased about 15 percent,” he adds.
The Davenport facility has a full-time flight instructor on staff, while Muscatine’s is part-time. Davenport is also home to Carver Aero’s maintenance department. “The hangar [at Muscatine] just doesn’t allow it because of size,” Lewis explains.
At Muscatine, some 270,000 gallons of jet-A are pumped annually, while 100LL is “minimal,” according to Lewis. Davenport has some 400,000 gallons of fuel pumped annually, says Kupresin. And while the price of fuel industry-wide has come down in recent months, Kupresin expects this will be a short-term drop and that fuel prices will remain high in the long term. “Fuel sales have increased a little — not a whole lot — particularly with jet-A, which is up over last year, but we’re down with 100LL.”
Industry Impacts, Growth
On the sales and marketing front, Kupresin says Carver Aero has a robust website (www.carveraero.com) as well as a direct contact marketing initiative. “We know who does charter from our client lists and through contacts within the business community,” he says. “We do as much one-on-one marketing as we can, going to their office, talking with them, showing them our fleet and our pricing structure to try to sell our business.”
The future could hold more locations for the FBO company, says Carver, and adds that communities like Muscatine and Davenport are what he’s looking for. “We’re looking for markets like this; growing towns that have a good economic base.”
VLJs (very light jets) could have an impact on operations for Carver, says Kupresin. “The sport pilot license and the emergence of the VLJ is going to have a significant affect on general and corporate aviation,” he says. “I think we’ll see VLJs here.” With the fuel efficiency and price comparisons to other jets on the market, Kupresin says many of his current customers have already expressed an interest in the new aircraft.