Takeoff to Luxury
|Want to Be a High Flyer?|
Trombley, 46 and a former AOL senior executive who now runs his own company called College Coach Prep, is the owner of a Marquis Jet Card that enables 25 hours of private jet travel annually. So the morning of game day, he and his son board a jet to Indiana.
After about an hour and twenty minutes, they land at South Bend Regional Airport and head straight for the university. "Within 10 minutes, we are at the college bookstore, buying sweatshirts," Trombley says. The following day, they hop back on the jet and are back home in time for his son's soccer game.
That's just one example of the Trombley family's pleasure trips. It is their second year flying through Marquis, and their jet card allows them to make plans at a moment's notice, travel safely and save time.
"It is the ultimate luxury," Randy Trombley says.
Not Just for CEOsFor Trombley and thousands of others, private jet travel has become a viable and preferred option. Today, there are more choices in private aviation, including fractional ownership and the expected availability this summer of smaller, more affordable business jets. As a result, the industry is welcoming a whole new class of customers. You can become one of them if you've got the income. But beware -- those who have flown privately warn that it may be too good. "Private aviation is a drug," explains Ken Austin, executive vice president and chief marketing officer of Marquis Jets, a leader in the fractional ownership industry. "It's very hard to go back." In light of just how difficult commercial airline travel is predicted to be this summer (thanks to escalating fares, long waits at security checkpoints and crowded planes), it's easy to understand what makes private aviation so alluring: Private jet passengers enjoy unmatched levels of comfort and privacy. Perhaps more important is the time saved. Imagine heading for the closest community airport and arriving on the tarmac just minutes before takeoff -- without the parking hassle and endless lines at larger commercial airports. There are more than 5,000 such small, noncommercial airports in the U.S., according to the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), vs. the 500 airports that serve the commercial airlines. Although private aviation is costlier than its commercial counterpart, the demand for it is growing. According to the GAMA, 189 business jets were shipped to customers in the first quarter of 2006 vs. 139 in the first quarter of 2005, an increase of 36%. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) estimates that private-business-jet travel will triple over the next 10 years.
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