Budget Charter Offers Discount Rates

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JetSuite Air, a new charter company headed by former JetBlue exec and staffed with ex-JetBlue pilots, is trying to apply some of the lessons they learned with the budget carrier to the bizjet charter market. The company, which began flying last year (it started life as Magnum Jet four years ago and had planned to use Eclipse 500s), now has nine Embraer Phenom 100s and recently started offering what amounts to seat sales on shorter routes. For instance, a one-way trip from Van Nuys to Las Vegas is being offered at $999 for the four-seat aircraft, less than four full-fare airline tickets. But as with airlines, the bargain fare is subject to advance booking, blackouts and is non-refundable. JetBlue founder David Neeleman is one of the main investors and he said the strategy suits the times.

"People are focused on value now and I think they'll turn to an operator that gains brand recognition and one they know they can trust for safety," Neeleman told The Wall Street Journal. In exchange for the airline-like fare provisions, JetSuite customers are not asked for monthly fees or up-front payments. The discount seats will be available on JetSuite's frequently traveled routes in the Southwest, but typical charter operations to specific locales outside those areas will run at full fare.