If two Prescott entrepreneurs fulfill their lofty ambition, they will soon be flying high – literally and figuratively – from Ernest A. Love Field in Prescott to destinations in 13 communities in three states.
The two – Henry Gellerman, a semi-retired film, TV and financial manager; and Paul Zawadzki, a 737 airline pilot with more than 5,300 hours in aviation – are founding ArizonaHop, an “on demand” charter airline service headquartered in Prescott.
The air service is named for the short flights between cities – less than an hour each.
The two men have reviewed and met all Federal Aviation Regulations. Gellerman said, “A lot of moving parts have been involved in our getting approval for our business plan. The FAA certainly has been a major factor. We’re also aggressively involved in fundraising, for it will take about $3 million to make this proposal fly.”
They have developed proposed flight routes from the Prescott base at Ernest A. Love Field to North Las Vegas (not McCarran International Airport), Nevada, Cottonwood, Sedona, Flagstaff, Tusayan (Grand Canyon), Kingman, Laughlin-Bullhead City, Wickenburg, Glendale and Scottsdale.
They selected these destinations because their market research revealed that many travelers to the Southwest want to see these destinations because of their scenic, historic, cultural and recreational appeal. “Major carriers don’t fly to some of these places. We will. Besides that, passengers won’t have to worry about fighting check-in lines and TSA processes because we’re a charter airline service that operates on demand. They’ll be no two-hour waits in crowded terminals and expensive parking lots.”
They hope, once the air service is ready to expand, also to have flights to Tucson and to Palm Springs, California.
“We think, with the announcement by the Trump administration that it wants to eliminate federal subsidies for air service – Essential Air Service (EAS) – to rural communities, our charter service will fill that void,” said Gellerman. “We also believe that many passengers, and probably a lot of international travelers, will like it that we’re making it possible for them to see so many scenic attractions in our flight routes.”
The air carrier they intend to use for charter flights will be a Pilatus PC12NG (next generation) single engine turbo-prop passenger plane manufactured in Switzerland. Gellerman says the plane will accommodate eight passengers in absolute comfort – fine leather, excellent wood veneers, attractive textiles.
“Seats will be arranged in commuter seating configuration. It will have a fully enclosed lavatory and a baggage area at the rear. More important, it will be fully pressurized. The five-bladed prop will give the plane a quieter, yet higher airspeed – about 312 miles per hour. Two licensed pilots will be on each flight.”
Zawadzki, who graduated from Embry Riddle-Aeronautical University in Prescott, said the Pilatus has the reputation of being the best-selling pressurized single-engine turbine powered aircraft in the world. He noted the plane is mainly used is for regional airline operations and for corporate transportation.
The founders explained that fares will be competitive and tickets will be available only online. Hence, only credit cards will be accepted for payment.
“Our website became operative on May 1, so now potential passengers can go to ArizonaHop.com and find out when we are planning our inaugural flights. Bookings for flights will be accepted by telephone, phone Apps and online. ‘On-demand’ passenger lists are aggregated by cloud servers, and they will compile and print out daily flight dispatch lists.”
“We will be marketing in printed periodicals, on Northern Arizona radio, Phoenix and Las Vegas radio. We’ll also be on Facebook and Twitter to share our messages, promotions and contests. Of course, our ArizonaHop.com site will carry all of our air service’s information, promotions and videos,” said Gellerman.
Both Gellerman and Zawadzki say they are looking forward to providing an “on demand” flying experience to charter passengers who otherwise might not have such an opportunity. FBN
By Ray Newton, FBN