Looking for a quick trip to Portland, but don’t want to hassle with the nasty drive down I-5 orthe long lines at Sea-Tac airport?
Well, Arrow founder Russell Belden feels your pain. The entrepreneur behind the Seattle-based private jet club, which plans to start limited service for members between Seattle and the San Francisco Bay Area next month, is now floating a new idea to run what essentially amounts to an air taxi service for the Northwest.
The idea is that members of Arrow would be able to charter a small plane between Seattle’s Boeing Field and Portland, as well as other cities in a 250-mile radius.
Belden said they’ve already been booking charter flights for members as part of their service, and the Seattle to Portland air taxi could simply formalize those efforts. He said a number of members have expressed interest in quick trips throughout the Northwest, whether heading to Portland for a business meeting or traveling to Yakima to sample the wines.
Belden said they were inundated with requests specifically for Portland trips. “With a big plane, you can’t make money going to Portland, unfortunately that has been proven,” said Belden. That’s when the aviation geek started looking for a lower-cost option, finding that in the Cirrus SR22, a small four-seater that cruises at about 180 miles per hour and can deliver passengers between Seattle and Portland in about 60 minutes.
“It’s very comfortable. It’s like being in a BMW 3 Series,” says Belden. Arrow can fly into Portland’s primary airport, but Belden said their preference is to fly to Hillsboro near the Nike campus.
There are already a number of air taxi services, including ImagineAir and Hopscotch Air, that use the Cirrus aircraft on the East Coast. And Belden is looking to replicate that model for the Northwest.
He’s still experimenting with pricing, but said it would likely be about $600 for a member to charter a roundtrip flight between Seattle and Portland. (That means with three adults prices would be about $200 roundtrip, given that the service works the same as a car taxi). Belden also said that they are looking at a lower-tier monthly membership for those who’d want to participate in the Northwest air taxi service, dubbing it a “concierge service.”
Those who want full access to Arrow, including the private service to the Bay Area, must pay $500 per month to be in the club. Belden has fiddled with the economics of the Bay Area flights in recent weeks, reducing the number of memberships that are available in part because he said some of the early members wanted to fly more regularly.
That caused some headaches in terms of the logistics of getting people up and down the West Coast. He’s still trying to sort through those challenges, though he’s hopeful to put those behind him as they begin limited service next month. At this point, he says they’ll likely be at capacity at 100 members.
“We’re moving forward, good things are happening, we’re happy with response,” he says.
In terms of the private air taxi, Belden said that could get off the ground this summer if there’s enough interest. “We’re seeing how many people would be interested in this. If there are enough, we’ll do it,” he says.
Belden said his ultimate goal with Arrow is to create a more pleasant traveling experience, away from long lines and security now associated with air travel. “My greater vision with Arrow is that Arrow is aviation,” he says.
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