Bay Area flight service takes off
January 17, 2006
A flight service that whisks travelers between the Bay Area and Truckee in less than an hour has become a popular option for vacationers or professionals tired of spending hours behind the wheel.Centurion Flight Services, a Palo Alto-based air taxi service that operated 11 aircraft, has seen flights to Truckee double since adding a new Cessna Grand Caravan in early 2004 for flights to Truckee, said Chris Brown, president of the nearly 30-year-old flight service.”It’s been doing pretty well, although it’s never good enough,” said Brown, who estimates he flies passengers into town approximately twice a week. The 9-seat Grand Caravan rents out at $675 an hour, an affordable option if the plane is full.In all, Centurion operates 11 aircraft, and most of the planes service smaller airports in the nation that do not accommodate traditional commercial service.”Out of all the airports that are out there only about 5 percent have commercial service,” Brown said.Centurion’s increase in flights mirrors a national trend in aviation. According to the National Air Transportation Association, fractional ownership jets, a close cousin to air taxis and charters, is the fastest growing segment of the aviation industry.In the United State there are more than 3,000 air taxi operators that operate some 11,000 aircraft, according to the association. Many of these planes fly to the nearly 4,500 U.S. airports that have no scheduled air service.Although the air taxi will carry skis and baggage, most of Centurion’s clientele fly in the summer, Brown said.”This is one of the slower times of year primarily because of weather issues,” he said.Centurion is not the only service that offers private flights to and from Truckee. Truckee-based Regent Air, in business since 1984, flies a Citation jet out of Truckee to destinations within the United States and Canada.The eight-passenger jet, which can reach speeds of 463 mph, can reach San Diego in less than an hour and a half. Regent’s service, however, is a bit pricier. The jet rents out at $1,750 per hour, plus additional fees, according to the company’s Web site.Passengers interested in Centurion’s shuttle service between the Bay Area and Truckee can call Centurion at (800) 983-5444. More information about Centurion can be found at http://www.centurionfs.com. Information on Regent air can be found at http://www.regentair.com. The charter service, based out of the Truckee Tahoe Airport, can be reached at 582-1102.