Courtesy of ImagineAir
ImagineAir uses Cirrus SR-22 airplanes to transport up to three passengers.
For many business travelers in the Tri-County region, the preferred mode of transportation to places such as Washington, Baltimore or Boston has been the car.
In many cases, air transport isn't usually considered. The drive time to Philadelphia International Airport, as well as dealing with parking and security, makes it even more time-consuming than simply keeping it on the road.
However, there's a growing trend in the aviation industry that's bringing air travel closer to the customers.
An example is ImagineAir, an on-demand air taxi service that recently expanded its service in greater Philadelphia to include airports in the Tri-County area, such as Kolb Airport in East Pikeland Township, Chester County, and the Perkiomen Valley Airport in Skippack Township, Montgomery County.
ImagineAir has been among several air taxi services that have been expanding their reach in recent years.
A recently profile in Forbes indicates: "The Atlanta-based company wants to do for private aviation what Uber is doing for ground transportation."
Indeed, the company said it wants to deal directly with its customers, via digital sources.
A simple click on a website can bring a plane for the trip.
"It's a little more modern than air taxis," said ImagineAir CEO Bill Hamilton in a phone interview. "You traditionally call a broker, and we've simplified it. You can do it in three minutes and bring an airplane to you. You choose the closest airport, and we'll come pick you up."
Hamilton said the typical customer books a flight four days in advance, though same-day service could be available. The company's fleet consists of 11 Cirrus SR-22 propeller-powered airplanes that can seat four. The company is planning to add 10 more plans this year.
An average trip is about 230 miles, though it could be up to 500.
"The sweet spot is what would normally be between a three- and seven-hour drive," Hamilton said.
The average price for a flight is $1,200, which would cover up to three passengers. The rates can vary, depending on travel date and demand.
CAPA, Centre for Aviation, a Sydney-based organization that tracks global aviation trends, said such smaller carriers are exploiting new technology and marketing to business travelers who want less of a hassle.
It also noted that companies such as ImagineAir, Wheels Up, Surf Air and Jet Suite can use fleets of smaller planes to make shorter connections that their bigger airline competitors can't, because of either government regulations or their business models.
Citing a study from the U.S. Travel Association, CAPA noted: "The growth of these new models is remarkable and comes despite the fact the industry has never exploited the numerous studies that show business aviation is good for the bottom line. Nor have they exploited the half-dozen studies that explain just how bad the commercial airline hassle factor is or just how much it costs travelers and the economy. This overwhelming data easily makes the business case for business aviation and will drive growth."
Regional airports served: Kolb Airport, East Pikeland Township, Chester County; and Perkiomen Valley Airport, Skippack Township, Montgomery County.
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