Ride ends for Aspen jet charter | AspenTimes.com

Ride ends for Aspen jet charter

Wyatt Haupt Jr.
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN ” A once high-flying, jet-charter service with roots in Aspen has been grounded, a Federal Aviation Administration representative said Wednesday.

Jetride Inc. closed down about two weeks ago when the company “voluntarily turned in [its operating] certificate,” said FAA spokesman Roland Herwig. The Arkansas-based company, which was doing business under the Aspen Jetride banner, relinquished its flight operation certificate Nov. 3.

Attempts to contact Jetride officials were not successful.

Aspen Jetride rose from the bankruptcy ashes of a failed local charter service ” Aspen Executive Air (AEXJet). The charter flew out of Aspen nonstop to Atlanta, New York, south Florida, San Francisco, Chicago, Houston and Austin, Texas.

AEXJet filed a voluntary bankruptcy petition in September 2007. The petition, filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware, listed about $65 million in debts at the time with assets of $6.5 million.

In October 2007, the owners of Jetride bought the assets of AEXJet out of Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The deal was finalized earlier this year.

Shortly thereafter the Aspen Jetride name was born. By then, Chicago billionaire John Calamos Sr. had been brought in as a partner in the company.

Aspen Jetride also had consolidated its operations, cut local jobs and set up shop in Illinois, where it had existed until it closed earlier this month. Jetride, its parent company, remained in Arkansas.

At its peak in 2007, Jetride employed 140 people with a fleet of more than 25 aircraft. Aspen Jetride continued to provide service to Aspen-Pitkin County Airport until the business shut down.

When AEXJet launched in March 2003, it marketed its services through a three-tier program with memberships ranging from $125,000 to $500,000.

The program functioned like a debit account, with fliers’ accounts charged each time they flew, based on an hourly rate and other fees.

The company had marketed its services to wealthy travelers and billed its offerings as a luxury alternative to the hassle that came with flying with commercial carriers.

Aspen-Pitkin County Airport presently has no jet-charter service companies based on its premises, said Jim Elwood, director of aviation.

whaupt@aspentimes.com


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