Air taxi an upgrade for the private jet set

Linear Air puts VLJ into service

"With the numbers of jets that are being talked about and the number of hours that you'd have to fly to make them economic, there just has to be a huge demand," says Mr. Mann, of R.W. Mann & Co. in Port Washington, New York. "It is absolutely the case that a lot of high-time-value individuals, entrepreneurs and corporate executives are opting out of the commercial airline system because of the delays and the inconvenience and are looking for alternatives." But, he adds, it's not clear that the VLJ model will be more successful than the larger corporate jet services that have grown dramatically over the last five years.

Major airlines are particularly concerned about the projected growth of the VLJ market, because of their impact on the nation's already congested airspace.

"The business aviation community is fond of telling people that they use only 4 percent of the capacity at the 25 major airports in the United States," says John Meenan, executive vice president of the Air Transport Association, which represents the major commercial airlines. But he contends that's misleading, because business jets use a significantly larger percentage of the air traffic control resources.

"For instance in Southern California, they use 37 percent [of the air traffic control operations,] while the commercial sector uses 40 percent," he says.

Mr. Meenan worries the introduction of thousands of VLJs could eventually create aviation gridlock. But VLJ proponents like Mr. Strait, contend that since the microjets will be flying to smaller airports, the concern is nothing more than "a red herring."

(c) Copyright 2007. The Christian Science Monitor

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