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Old 08-21-2007, 11:34 AM   #1  
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Default Virgin Charter

Air taxis - tiny, short-hop planes that are so affordable that business fliers can charter them whenever they want - are taking off. So much so that Richard Branson was thinking of starting his own air-taxi service. But then the Virgin boss came across a startup called Smart Charter with an even better idea: to become the Expedia of airplane chartering. Branson became the majority investor and swiftly renamed it Virgin Charter. Now the venture is creating a travel portal for the 2,500 air charter services in the United States - and all the air-taxi services to come.

Most charter operators are mom-and-pop shops that still take reservations by phone or fax. They are notoriously inefficient: Last year an estimated 40 percent of charter flights flew empty. If a CEO books a flight to St. Croix, for example, there might not be anyone who wants to charter the return trip to the plane's base. So customers often end up being charged for the empty flight back.

The industry is more than ready for a better scheduling system. Says Virgin Charter CEO Scott Duffy, "We will reduce or eliminate the concept of an empty leg." By bringing in more revenue and reducing the cost of operating air charter services, Duffy hopes to spur more competition and waste less jet fuel.

To build a reservation system that can coordinate among thousands of operators, Duffy hired two top engineers who once worked at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. (One was also the lead programmer for Google's AdWords system.) The site is scheduled to launch in a private beta test in September and publicly early next year. Air charter operators will be able to list their flights and monitor reservation requests online, many of them using the Web to do so for the first time.

"The problem is not that there aren't enough jets," Duffy says. "The problem is that it's too hard to buy and sell what is already out there." A popular online reservation system may be just what the air-taxi industry needs to get off the ground.

www.cnnfn.com

-LAFF
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Old 08-21-2007, 11:50 AM   #2  
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Originally Posted by LAfrequentflyer View Post
Air taxis - tiny, short-hop planes that are so affordable that business fliers can charter them whenever they want - are taking off. So much so that Richard Branson was thinking of starting his own air-taxi service. But then the Virgin boss came across a startup called Smart Charter with an even better idea: to become the Expedia of airplane chartering. Branson became the majority investor and swiftly renamed it Virgin Charter. Now the venture is creating a travel portal for the 2,500 air charter services in the United States - and all the air-taxi services to come.

Most charter operators are mom-and-pop shops that still take reservations by phone or fax. They are notoriously inefficient: Last year an estimated 40 percent of charter flights flew empty. If a CEO books a flight to St. Croix, for example, there might not be anyone who wants to charter the return trip to the plane's base. So customers often end up being charged for the empty flight back.

The industry is more than ready for a better scheduling system. Says Virgin Charter CEO Scott Duffy, "We will reduce or eliminate the concept of an empty leg." By bringing in more revenue and reducing the cost of operating air charter services, Duffy hopes to spur more competition and waste less jet fuel.

To build a reservation system that can coordinate among thousands of operators, Duffy hired two top engineers who once worked at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. (One was also the lead programmer for Google's AdWords system.) The site is scheduled to launch in a private beta test in September and publicly early next year. Air charter operators will be able to list their flights and monitor reservation requests online, many of them using the Web to do so for the first time.

"The problem is not that there aren't enough jets," Duffy says. "The problem is that it's too hard to buy and sell what is already out there." A popular online reservation system may be just what the air-taxi industry needs to get off the ground.

www.cnnfn.com

-LAFF

Don't they already have something like this?? Its something like CharterX. I think that companies can post their dead-legs to sell and clients can request certain flights. It will figure out the best aircraft for that trip and then email the companies who have those aircraft.
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