Blink Jets positioned to start Europe’s first air taxi service

Financing just came through for Blink, a British startup airline advertised to be the first “taxi service” across Western Europe. The idea behind the service is that business travelers can save time (and maybe money) by commuting from smaller airports with fewer restrictions. So rather than taking the tube out to London Heathrow three hours early, waiting in a giant queue for ticketing and security, flying the hour to Charles De Gaulle in Paris, taking the RER into the city, linking up to the subway and into the city center you can get to a local London Airport 10 minutes early, be in the air 20 minutes later and be in Pairs by the end of the hour.

It’s particularly handy for a small group of high paid individuals whose time is worth far more in meetings versus in transit. But for plebeians like you and me it could be tough — I have a feeling that the flights are going to be a tad more than your average Ryanair flight. So if you don’t know the CEO of a home improvement store or a rapper, it might be a little while before we get to ride in one of these Cessna Citation Mustangs.

Operations and planning are well underway and service is marked to begin in May of 08. Start saving up your bottle deposits now.

The Rise of the Air Taxi?

Get ready for traffic jams in the sky! Small airlines flying so-called “Light Jets” or “Very Light Jets” (VLJs) are springing up and expanding service. They operate these fleets as “air-taxis” or “air-cabs,” the idea being that you fly in a small jet (or small turbo-prop) plane from a small regional airport, with up to 11 other passengers, travel on-demand (when you want), and pay approximately full-coach prices. As the “taxi” fills up, each passenger pays less.

The business model may work because these jets cost so much less than larger airliners. For example, the Eclipse VJL can cost as little as $1.7m (wait, let me get my checkbook), which allows these airlines to charge as little as $600 per hour, or, alternatively, $1-3 per mile per passenger, up to 1000 miles. They also operate out of tiny airports, such as Teterboro (NJ) or Hanscom Field (MA), which saves them money, and passengers time.

Recently, Linear Air, a Boston-based airtaxi service, expanded their service to the DC area (Manassas). They even offer service to Puerto Rico.

SATSair offers a similar type of service and is based in South Carolina. Other competitors include DayJet, out of Florida, and Pogo, started by former American Airlines CEO Crandall.