Wheels Up! The Anywhere-Anytime Realm of Charter Flight

Above: Where do you want to go? Katherine Forst, John Pugh and J.R. Boesen at Exec 1 Aviation can get you there in high style.

BY STEVE DINNEN 

John Grubb’s trips to his second home in Arizona start not with a drive to the Des Moines airport but to Ankeny. There are no TSA lines at Ankeny Regional Airport, no queuing up in an icy-cold (or brutally hot) jet bridge and then finding somewhere in an overhead bin to stash your gear.

Grubb, accompanied by his wife, Kay, instead climbs aboard one of five Beechjet 400s operated by Exec 1 Aviation. In 2 hours, 40 minutes they’ll touch down at Scottsdale Airport, thus concluding another successful charter for Exec 1’s fleet of jets (and one turbo-prop aircraft).

“It’s expensive, but worth it,” says Grubb, citing the lack of crowds, ease of use, immediate availability and attention to detail by Exec 1. The charter company also makes sure to have his favorite snacks on board.

J.R. Boesen, president of Exec 1, says that as Des Moines has grown, so has the need for jet leasing. Exec 1 serves businesses that lack aircraft, as well as firms with their own planes that might occasionally need some extra capacity. The company can customize a leasing program for steady clients or offer charters on demand.

Exec 1 is both an operator and a broker, so if a customer needs a large-capacity aircraft (the Beechcraft carry eight), Exec 1 can tap into a national network that will secure the right plane. The company also owns a six-passenger propeller-driven plane, which has a shorter range than the jets but can land and take off on shorter runways.

This special service does not, as Grubb noted, come cheap. But Exec 1 looks at its planes as delivering productivity. Take, for example, a morning trip to Little Rock, Arkansas, for a team from one Des Moines company. Commercial airfares for that trip would have totaled $4,781, but then the company would spend more than $2,000 more on hotels and meals for an overnight stay. The Exec 1 flight cost $9,451. After lunch in Arkansas, the entire staff jetted back to Des Moines, ready for another full day of work.

While most jet travel is for business, there is an occasional desire to get away for leisure, and Exec 1 has planes standing by. On one such trip, to the Turks and Caicos, John Grubb said the hassle of customs clearance was greatly eased as Exec 1 opted to use services at a a smaller airport that could get that job done in a fraction of the time it would take using commercial service through Miami.

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