Lanier Flight Center’s charter operations branch is about to add a $1.5 million jet to its fleet of general aviation aircraft.
President Troy Wheeler said that starting in October, Lanier Flight Express will begin offering charter trips from Lee Gilmer Memorial Airport on an 8-seat Cessna Citation for people who “need to get somewhere fast.”
He bought the jet several months back. With a 12,000-pound takeoff weight, the Citation can travel 425 miles per hour. A full flight will cost passengers about $2,000 per hour, split between them.
It’s currently being refurbished and repainted, but will soon be ready to fly.
As far as charter flights at Lanier Flight Express go, it will be top of the line, Wheeler said. The business also owns a Cessna TTx, which goes for $500 per hour; and a Cessna Turboprop, at $1,000 per hour.
While Lanier Flight Express has been in business since 2004, Wheeler said this was a good time for the company to expand its fleet.
“(Commercial airlines) are always full. It’s harder to get a flight and prices are going up,” Wheeler said. “And, you can’t always get to where you want to go.”
Added Wheeler: “With us, it’s on-demand charter. It’s ‘where do you want to go, and when?’ and we can take care of you.”
The typical customer, Wheeler said, is “a business person who needs to take a day trip and doesn’t want to have to travel to Hartsfield or go on a two-day trip. He wants to be able to get out and get back home.”
On a typical trip, he explained, a businessman or businesswoman would leave on a jet at 7 a.m., be in, say, Miami, by 8:30 a.m., do his or her job, leave there by 4:30 p.m. and be home by 6 p.m.
“He’s given himself time for more productivity. He’s better prepared, and he’s less stressed,” Wheeler said.
While he admits that the cost of charter flight can be pricey, he says it “buys you time. It’s quick and easy, and it gets you back home with the family quicker than any other mode of transportation.”