Aircraft charter companies align services resources

December 18, 2008
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Two full-service fixed base operators serving West Michigan’s aircraft charter needs began coordinating their schedules for aircraft, pilots, pricing and capacity in October and are now talking merger.

The partnership between Rapid Air and Tulip City Air Service marked the first integrated aircraft charter and maintenance alliance in the area. The merger is contingent on federal, state and local approval, as well as Tulip City Air’s reaching a satisfactory agreement with the West Michigan Airport Authority.

Rapid Air operates out of Gerald R. Ford International Airport and Tulip City Air operated out of the Tulip City Airport in Holland. As soon as Tulip City Air Service gets the airport authority’s nod to renovate its current facility, the company will immediately get started on renovations that will include a completely new fixed base operator facility with contemporary state-of-the-art customer and pilot waiting areas.

“The intent is to proceed with those renovations as quickly as possible,” Ludema said.

The combined company will have nine aircraft, 15 pilots and eight aircraft maintenance personnel, said Ron Ludema, president of Tulip City Air. Ludema said Rapid Air President Paulus Heule approached him quite a while ago with the idea of an alliance and that the idea made a lot of sense to Tulip City Air. He said the alliance of the past few months was partially intended as a pre-test to a merger and partially a way to get the most value from all the available personnel at both companies.

The test run went very well, he noted, and in just a few months both companies have seen gains in efficiencies. The alliance has simply made it easier and more convenient for customers of both companies to book a charter flight or schedule maintenance, he said.

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