Local flights up since 9-11
Although flights at large international airports have been on the decline since September 11th, some small airports have been seeing an increase in traffic.
Since July 2001, the Truckee Tahoe Airport has seen a 24 percent increase in flight traffic.
General Manager David Gotschall believes that one of the reasons behind the increase was, specifically, the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
“People are looking for alternatives to coming to the airport two to three hours early,” Gotschall said.
One of those alternatives, he said, is to buy into a fractional-ownership aircraft, something he’s seen a lot more of these days.
Gotschall said that for first-class passengers on commercial jets, fractional-ownership can be cheaper. If, for example, a family is flying a short distance, a fractional-ownership jet makes sense.
A company will sell one-eighth of an aircraft to an individual, who then has the opportunity to fly whereever he wants, whenever he wants, even if one of the other owners is using the jet at the same time.
Industry-wide, fractional-ownership usage has increased by 40 percent, Gotschall said.
Gotschall is not surprised by the increase in traffic, and actually predicted it one week after the terrorist attacks.
“The economic factors, with the market going in the tank, you would think that it would be going the other way,” he said.
Gotschall believes that because investing in stocks right now is so unstable, people are putting their money into something more tangible – like an airplane.
He said companies like Toyota have been trying to find ways to manufacture affordable aircraft – some which cost less than a typical sports utility vehicle.
“I think there’s a real bright spot on the horizon for general aviation,” he said.
While Gotschall envisions a world with an aircraft in every garage, he also notes that the majority of aircraft owners today are relatively wealthy.
Although the “golden era” of general aviation may not be on the horizon yet, Gotschall expects the increases in traffic – particularly in fractional-ownership aircraft – at Truckee Tahoe to continue, especially with new rules beginning to be enforced by the Transportation Security Administration – like 100 percent bag checks.
“Americans are not going to put up with this for very long,” Gotschall said, referring to what he calls the “line of shame.”
Gotschall did note that the increase in traffic will not affect noise levels emitted by the airport since fractional-ownership aircraft tend to be less noisy.
Also, employees of the company that sells and administers the aircraft fly the planes, so they do not require hangars.
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