Originally published in The Hanscom Beacon Winter/Spring Issue 2007
Linear Air, the leading very light jet air-taxi operator, has received certification from the French government to offer charter service in the Caribbean to the French West Indies, including the island of St. Bart’s. The company welcomed this latest certification with a group of new investors, including European private equity firm COFRA Group, following a closing of $2.5 million additional funding.
Linear Air also expects to be among the first air-taxi operators to begin flying the Eclipse 500 VLJ later this year.
According to Bill Herp, President and CEO of Linear, “This has been a monumental year for Linear. With the addition of the COFRA Group to the Linear Air family and certification to serve St. Bart’s, we are proving Linear Air is a true leader in the airtaxi market, one that has been formally recognized for both current operational achievements and expected future success with the VLJ’s.”
Linear Air, based in Lexington, Mass., is a premier air-taxi service that provides regional private air travel to executives and families with personalized customer service, flexibility and convenience at attractive fares.
The company operates the largest fleet of luxury Cessna Grand Caravan propjets in the U.S., with aircraft based at Hanscom Field, and provides on-demand charter service to more than 500 cities in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic U.S., eastern Canada and the Caribbean. On summer weekends, the company offers per-seat scheduled charter service to Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket from the Teterboro Airport outside New York City.
Until the company takes delivery of the Eclipse 500 Jet (VLJ), Linear Air flies one of the safest aircraft in modern aviation history, the Cessna Grand Caravan. Brand new and turbine-powered, the Grand Caravan can carry up to 12 passengers, though they have luxuriously configured it for only eight guests. According to a Linear Air spokesperson, “Their aircraft can fly above most weather, at speeds rivaling jet service. Best of all, it has a 99.8% dispatch rate since it entered service in 1985, meaning it beats the airlines hands down in the all-important on-time category.”
With delivery of the new Eclipse 500 (VLJ), Linear Air will be able to expand its existing propjet service to smaller markets within point-to-point 500-mile regional networks around major metropolitan areas and will enable Linear Air to pass reductions incost to customers.
Each Eclipse 500 jet costs approximately $1.6 million, just onethird the cost of the current smallest jet on the market. Each jet seats 4 passengers and is similar to the experience of a flying limousine. Linear Air expects to fly the aircraft at speeds averaging 345 miles per hour to a maximum range of 1,000 miles, with the average trip measuring between 300 and 500 miles.
Linear Air has ordered 30 of the Eclipse 500 jets over the next two years and will begin taking delivery at the close of this year. Obviously, Linear Air has been successful because of CEO Bill Herp’s marketing skills and because he strongly believes in the importance of creating a customer base prior to delivery of aircraft. It’s what sets Linear Air apart from competitors by allowing an easy transition into the jet-taxi market.
Apparently, Bill Herp speaks from experience. Not only does he hold a BBA from Notre Dame and an MBA from Harvard, but also possesses one of the most enviable track records in taking start-up companies to successful fruition.
As they say in business, “It takes vision, mission and intuition – and certainly a large amount of hard work to bring a company to fruition.” Those words epitomize the character of Bill Herp, President and CEO of Linear Air.