Earthjet Unearths More Details

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If you think you've heard it all when it comes to air-taxi concepts, think again. West Palm Beach, Fla.-based Earthjet is adding its own twist by using a franchise business model for per-seat Part 135 service, in addition to conceptually designing the roughly 14,000-pound light jet to be used by the franchisees. "We believe the franchise model is a very effective way to structure an air-taxi service. Essentially, Earthjet will provide pilot and business training to franchise owners to ensure consistency of service," company President and CEO Dean Rotchin told AVweb. As for the air-taxi aircraft, Earthjet presented a conceptual design package that includes performance data and supplier bids to several "leading" aircraft manufacturers, and two are interested in building the six-seat (in air-taxi configuration) jet. A decision on which company will manufacture the airplane is expected later this year, according to Rotchin. All Earthjet flights will be nonstop, and per-seat fares will be fixed at $375, $675 or $975, depending on the distance. "This allows for simpler and more consistent pricing," Rotchin says. The business plan allows for passenger co-mingling on the market-pair flights, and the company believes that it can break even with an average load of 2.5 passengers per one-way trip. Rotchin says service could start with an "interim" aircraft in 2008, with the Earthjet-designed "ideal" airplane entering the fleet in the 2010 timeframe.