Japan Exodus Puts Premium On BizJets

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The nuclear crisis in Japan has some companies pulling staff from the island nation in droves and some private jet companies may not only be cashing in on the business, but increasing prices. COO of Hong Kong Jet, Jackie Wu, told Reuters Wednesday, "Yesterday, a charter plane from Tokyo to Australia, one way, was quoted at $265,000, up 20 percent." Wu said he'd received a request to fly 14 people from Tokyo to Hong Kong and charged a 26-percent premium. Some of the companies working the area have already seen significant business gains from participating in evacuation flights in the Middle East. Charter operator Air Partner says it has moved more than 12,000 people from troubled regions since late January. As demand grows in Japan, some companies are positioning themselves and their equipment to respond and cash in on the work.

"We are dealing with over 1,000 people wanting to evacuate from Tokyo this morning," Asia Jet's Mike Walsh told Reuters, Wednesday. Walsh has arranged to have five Airbus A330s on standby to meet demand. Asia Jet's clients have so far been large corporations and non-government organizations seeking to evacuate their employees. Other operators working the area include Metrojet and Air Partner. Air Partner says jet fuel shortages and airport closures have complicated logistics. Meanwhile, inbound flights are apparently seeing extremely low demand. Passenger Andy Beese, who flew to Tokyo late Tuesday, told the Toronto Sun, "I've never been on such an empty flight." Said Beese, "It was a (300-seat Boeing) 777 with barely 20 people on board."