Chartering a small plane for business travel can cost anywhere from $1.35 a mile to $200-a-minute - but under some circumstances it can be the economical way to go.
That's the position being advanced by the General Aviation Task Force which, according to an article in the current issue of Esquire, is funded by interested parties that include charter operators, aircraft makers and fuel suppliers.Through its General Aviation Market Expansion or GAME plan, the task force wants to get people in lower-level positions to consider top-executive transportation.
By writing your own flight, the task forces says, you can save days of travel time on a multistop trip, not to mention immeasurable amounts of exasperation.
General aviation can be costly. Charter prices range from $1.35 per mile for a four-passenger single-engine prop plane to $350-$750 an hour for an 18-passenger turboprop to $12,000-an-hour - $200 a minute - for a business jet.
If you rent just the plane but supply your own pilot, costs are lower.
The GAME people acknowledge price is a huge stumbling block, but they say a charter begins to become cost-competitive when it carries two passengers. They say it crosses into cost-efficiency when it carries three or more. Some small aircraft can accommodate up to 18 passengers, so if you fill the plane up it becomes downright economical.
GAME said the advantages of chartering or renting tended to run in inverse proportion to the size of the destination cities and the distance between them. It's on relatively short hops between cities with little commercial traffic that small planes shine.
Safety is another matter. The FAA regulates small aircraft less stringently than it does large airliners. The bottom line is that little planes are less safe.