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University partners with Lane Aviation to offer charter flights

Service expected to begin late fall

Ohio University recently announced a partnership with Lane Aviation of Columbus to offer chartered flights on the university's King Air 350 airplane.

"We began looking at this last year to determine whether there was a market demand for this type of plane and service," said Ken Carley, director of Airport Operations for the university.

"We found there was. This type of plane is more economical for private or charter flights than competing jet aircraft. Nobody in Ohio has a turbo prop plane that can carry as many people as we can."

The partnership with Lane Aviation is ideal – the 75-year-old company maintains an ever-growing charter customer base with needs for a King Air 350. Prior to the agreement with the university, the company had to seek such transportation out of state, said Tom Deuber, Lane president and Ohio University alumnus.

"The King Air 350 is a great aircraft and meets the specific mission needs of a growing number of our charter customers," Deuber said. "Having this plane available will enable us to meet that growing demand and we are excited about working with the team of professionals in OU's flight department."

Carley said a partnership with a private charter operator has the potential to increase the annual usage of the plane to 350 hours and provide revenue of approximately $300,000 per year, offsetting a significant amount of the operating costs. In the past, operational costs for the plane were higher because the aircraft was underutilized, resulting in a higher fixed cost per hour. The revenue from the charter flights will reduce our hourly break-even rate, saving the university nearly $500 per hour, he added.

"We are very pleased to begin this partnership with Lane Aviation," said Roderick J. McDavis, president of Ohio University. "It gives us a great opportunity to optimize the use of a University resource while encouraging and supporting economic development in our region in a very tangible way."

Lane Aviation will absorb all licensing costs for adding the plane and crew to their charter certificate. Carley said Lane will also retain the university pilots for all chartered flights on the King Air and the university will retain its preferred use and scheduling flexibility.

"We are doing something pretty proactive here to trim budget costs," Carley said, adding that monies from the general fund were removed from the airport's current budget in anticipation of a partnership agreement.

Air Transportation Services also retains the ability to provide the co-pilot internship program when the aircraft is operated for university use, Carley added.

Having a charter aircraft based at Ohio University Airport will also serve the regional business community by providing access to corporate air service with no aircraft repositioning costs.

Carley said he expects charter flights to begin in late fall once the certification process has been completed.