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4 Answers

charter service / new business

Asked by: 2321 views Commercial Pilot

Hello people. I don't know if this is the best site to ask my question, but I will anyway. I am wanting to start up a small business, and have been approved for the amount of $400,000. I've tossed around a few ideas, and one of them is to start a charter service. I would like to have a smaller jet, maybe an older model Citation, or something of that nature. Something at least in my budget. I myself can't legally fly it, so I would have to hire someone that could. I have all my licenses and ratings, so I could be trained to do so over the course of several years, hopefully. Anybody think that a small business of this nature could turn a modest profit? Any ideas or thoughts would be appreciated. Thank You, Jon

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4 Answers

  1. Bob Watson on Oct 17, 2013

    There’s a saying: The best way to make a small fortune in Aviation is to start with a big one (and I’m not sure $400K counts as a big one, in aviation terms).

    I would think that $400K would not be enough to start a jet charter, let alone carry it long enough for it to generate the business to keep it going. But, what do I know (besides watching lots of names come and go at the local airport).

    You don’t say where you’d start this business, so it’s impossible to guess what the market for such a service is, who your competition is (or could be), and what sort of maintenance infrastructure is nearby. If it were me, I’d ask around for some local expertise to get a handle on what it would take to establish a 135 business and what it might cost to support the required staff, facilities, and an affordable jet (not to mention the startup, certification, and facilities costs). You might also check and see what your target market would pay to fly in an older jet (or if they would even consider it). My guess is that the “private jet” clientele would prefer newer equipment, so an older jet could reduce your target market to near zero. But there are still many variables. You might be able to sell ice boxes to Eskimos, for example.

    All that being said, I think it’s possible to start a profitable, aviation-related business with that size of a nest egg, but it would take the right combination of services and market (and determination and all the other things a small business needs to be successful).

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  2. Mark Kolber on Oct 17, 2013


    One thing you will want to look into right away is the feasibility of obtaining a Part 135 certificate for the operation. It can be very difficult and time-consuming with some FSDOs have years-long backlogs. Some people even went to far the establish an office is a different state than the one they were in because it was more efficient to get through the process there. You might want to at least check in with one of the Part 135 compliance companies like GLN Compliance in the Denver area.

    Other than that, like a lot of businesses, it depends. Like other businesses, smaller and especially not-established charter companies were hard hit by the recession.

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  3. jondickson on Oct 18, 2013

    Thanks for the responses so far. I’m open to several locations where I would start this business, but if I could do it where I’m located now it would be great. I currently live close to Louisville Kentucky. I would like to try and base it from there and focus on flying to all the major cities within about 1 to 2 hours flight time. That would include: Chicago, Nashville, Indianapolis, Cincinnati, Columbus, St Louis, etc., etc. Of course I would be open to just about any flight that could make some money.

    I’m in the very beginning of starting anything. To be quite honest I wasn’t even considering starting a business that dealt with aviation until a friend convinced me to look into it. She said with my aviation education and experience I could maybe make this work. I only have a Bachelors in Aviation Science, and of course the appropriate licenses and ratings. What I don’t have is the experience or the flight hours. I would definitely have to hire a pilot trained on the jet, and hopefully I could learn from them.

    I have to agree that an older jet may be affordable, but it also might not attract the business. I’ve seen several older jets for sale that look good to me, but may not look as good to another audience. I’m willing to advertise for less, but then I run the risk of failing all together.

    Once again all responses are appreciated. I’ve got some time to decide on this, luckily.


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  4. Sam Andrews on Oct 20, 2013

    Jon, Just my two cents. I have often thought of starting a business such as this also. unlike you I have not taken the steps you have. Having said that It’s best to remember the Turtle always wins the race.
    There’s a lot of hoops to jusmp through for the 135 certificate. Why not start yourself a flight school with a basic trainer 172/Cherokee a complex airplane and a twin. Then get the 141 school going. The benefithere is you will possibly be able to pull from a small pool of CFI’s. You’ve got your feet wet in the certification process From there supplement the twin by offering charter flights, after you get the 135 okay. All this is taking you further down the path. When the demand gets going you got yor charter service. From there the sky is the limit maybe even a 121 operation.
    My home airport has only one airline and servicing one city. I’d look at a location like that to start this operation.
    Just like I said my two cents. Also, like the guy said you have to have a large fortune to make a small one in aviation. But the tortoise has the advantage.

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