Charter company close to doubling revenue each year

TRAVERSE CITY – Imagine you have a business meeting in Chicago. It should only last a couple of hours, but with all the travel time, you’ll be gone at least one entire day. That means a day that you’re not in the office–time you’re inevitably going to have to make up late evenings or on the weekend.

Now imagine pulling up to your own private plane, landing right in downtown Chicago, and heading back to your office by that afternoon. No delays, no kid kicking the seat behind you. It’s not as impossible as you may think.

With Traverse City-based Air Services, Inc. (ASI), you can charter your own plane and fly anywhere in the United States, Canada or the Caribbean.

ASI hangars its planes in the Harbor Air facilities at Cherry Capital Airport. Future plans call for a central locale at the airport–a move that founder and president Roy Nichols says will afford “better control, better security, and better amenities.”

ASI is the only company of its kind in Northern Michigan. And it’s increasing altitude as each year passes.

“We’re close to doubling our revenue every year,” said Nichols.

They’ve increased their fleet from one plane to seven, including three Beechcraft Barons, three King Air Turboprops and one Hawker Jet. Not to mention their increase in personnel; from two pilots to 13 and a full support staff.

Most of the planes they charter are actually owned by other clients. ASI then manages those planes; taking care of maintenance, hiring pilots, and when the plane is not in use by the owner, they charter it out.

They begin by working with a client to determine their aircraft needs, then they suggest choices that would represent the best aircraft value.

“We’re quite knowledgeable in the area of aircraft purchasing,” said Nichols. “We would typically help them to purchase the airplane, take them through the purchasing steps, and the inspections that are prudent when buying an airplane.”

During that process, ASI works to hire and train a flight crew for the aircraft.

“Our pilots really do have a lot of experience,” said Scott Miller, Assistant Director of Operations, and a former Air Force pilot. “Experienced pilots want to live in Traverse City.”

Their pilots also get to fly a variety of routes in several different planes. And at least once a year, they must attend a formal FAA approved school for each plane they fly.

It is that, and a knowledge of the industry to which Miller and Nichols attribute ASI’s success.

“Because of the way we’ve organized our business, we have much better aircraft than a typical charter business,” said Nichols, a former Marine pilot. He had worked in the aviation management industry for years before moving to Traverse City to open a retail optical business. Having owned planes since 1973, he decided an aircraft management business would allow him to use his plane more.

“I quickly found there was a big need for aircraft in the community,” Nichols said. “So we’ve grown very rapidly since then, almost unintentionally.”

All their planes boast the most up-to-date equipment including radar and Global Positioning Systems. High quality aircraft at a reasonable price is something they value for both their management and charter customers.

They also see the importance of treating their customers right.

“We’re very customer oriented,” said Office Manager Judy Geer.

Not only will you find food and drinks on every flight, some planes are equipped with stereos and in-flight phones. They’ll even take care of your rental car, hotel, and dinner reservations.

And you can set your own arrival and departure times–all at a relatively affordable rate.

To inquire about airline management possibilities or to charter a flight, contact Geer at (231) 922-0406. BN