Charter Operator Launches Campaign To Combat ‘Gray’ Charter Operations


California-based Exquisite Air Charter has added its own “extra layer” of protection for helping customers identify illegal charter operations. Citing an influx of first-time charter customers spurred to private air travel by the COVID pandemic, the company said it is concerned that many may lack an understanding of essential safety standards.

Rena Davenport, CEO of Exquisite Air Charter, said, “This newly developed program allows us to go through the appropriate expert-vetted checks, complementing the work of regular safety organizations like ARGUS and Wyvern, to ultimately avoid operators and owners that are offering illegal charters while doing as much as we can to keep the skies and our customers safe.”

Davenport cited some red flags, such as extraordinarily low prices. The program also helps alert potential customers to unqualified and non-certified operators—or so-called “gray” charter operators—using aircraft that lack sufficient maintenance and fight crews that may not be type-qualified. Inadequate weight-and-balance calculations are another hazard she cites. Beyond the safety factor, gray charter operators don’t pay appropriate taxes and certification fees to aviation authorities.

Davenport said of the program, “While there are established awareness campaigns from The Air Charter Association in the UK and NBAA in the U.S. to educate stakeholders about the hazards of illegal charters, we wanted to add tangible value for our customers with a thorough internal review process that secures working only with reputable, experienced, and trustworthy private aviation operators worldwide.”

Mark Phelps
Mark Phelps is a senior editor at AVweb. He is an instrument rated private pilot and former owner of a Grumman American AA1B and a V-tail Bonanza.

Other AVwebflash Articles


  1. Raf, I worked for an Air-Taxi in Alaska that would be called names in the media every other month. We called it free advertising 🙂 . This bashing from the competitors disguised as a news story is just how competition works sometimes. We where called ‘illegal’, ‘shady’, ‘dangerous’, ‘outlaws’ and any other negative that they could come up with. “Grey” wouldn’t have even been noticed.

    The Air-Taxi I was with focused on “Passenger Service” instead of shiny paint and interiors. We accommodated any and all animals, greasy parts, smelly fish boxes, game meat and any other odd item we could strap down in the aircraft. Carpet and side panels were replaced with more durable but less attractive materials. The paint on the aircraft would be close enough to represent the companies’ colors. The company was so busy that it charged 15% more on many routes. The passengers didn’t complain because we would ensure they had ground transportation to and from their flight. No worry about missing their flight.

    If Exquisite Air Charter would put just a little more effort into ‘accommodating’ their customers instead of ‘demanding’ them to meet Exquisite Air Charter’s ‘High Standards’ they wouldn’t be writing this hit piece against their competitors. We all have to operate with the same FAA Regulations. Obviously, they have already called and reported their competitor many times and the FAA couldn’t find a violation.

    P.S. The company charged more so it could pay ‘all’ the employees more also…. 💸