Airlines' Loss, BizAv's Gain

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An emerging trend in storm response by most airlines is creating opportunities in the business jet industry. Most of the majors now announce "preemptive cancellations" when particularly bad weather is forecast. When the storm that lashed the midsection of the country last week was forecast to dump up to 30 inches of snow on Chicago, all airlines cancelled flights to O'Hare and Midway, more than 2,000 in total, on Wednesday. In the past, flights would launch but airports would close as they got overwhelmed by the combination of traffic and snow. The Chicago storm almost lived up to its billing, but O'Hare and Midway never closed because the absence of traffic allowed crews to stay ahead of the snow clearing. Although there's no word on the level of business jet traffic during last week's storm, charter companies have added up the figures from the late December storms that had a similar impact on the Northeast.

Nick Tarascio, CEO of Ventura Air Services on Long Island, told Time Magazine the late December storms were money in the bank. "The blizzard was the best for our business," he said. According to Time, air charter requests peaked at 1,486 on Dec. 26, more than double that of the same day in 2009. European charter companies also got in on the bonanza when uncharacteristically cold and snowy weather hit the U.K. and southern Europe in December.