Private Corporate Jets Fill Chester’s Skies

Just outside of Philadephia, a suburban airport is booming with corporate jets. Many businesses are realizing that this way of traveling has its advantages. The Philadelphia Inquirer had this story.

“By chartering a jet, Roger Moog, aviation planner said, companies are choosing productivity over frequent flight delays and long security lines.

“It’s all based on what a businessperson’s time is worth,” he said. It costs $1,600 an hour to charter a small Learjet and $4,000 an hour for larger aircraft such as a Dassault Falcon 900.

“If you fill the airplane up” with people, Malchione said, “it becomes competitive with an airline ticket. And you can conduct meetings all the way. That’s hard to do on an airliner.”

In two years, the number of jets based at the airfield has doubled to 44, and many are owned or leased by corporations, airport manager Gary L. Hudson said.

The presence of JetDirect Aviation L.L.C., a major jet-aircraft management company, has contributed to the surge, Hudson said.

“It’s in the part of the greater metropolitan area that’s experienced the greatest growth, both in corporate and individual wealth,” said Gregory Campbell, president of JetDirect. “CEOs tend to fly out of airports that are close to their homes, so it happens to be a very good location.”

An airport neighbor, Keystone Helicopter Corp., attracts buyers from around the world. They land their jets at Carlson when checking on the progress of their custom-made helicopters.

“A lot of people don’t realize you can take off from Chester County and go directly to Europe,” said Albert A. Koenig, chairman of the Chester County Area Airport Authority, owner of the airport.

Carlson is also a bargain.

Hangar fees, fuel and maintenance are probably 50 percent cheaper than they are at Philadelphia International, Malchione said.

With 50,000 takeoffs and landings a year – roughly 10,000 by jets – Chester County is also one of the busiest regional airports for general aviation, the term the Federal Aviation Administration uses for unscheduled flights that don’t require a ticket to board.