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Financial details of the partnership were not disclosed, although it’s based on a revenue-sharing model, according to Julian Tonsmeire, vice president of business development at Mountain Aviation.
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Sun Valley’s 30 members can use a web-based calendar to look for Mountain Aviation flights booked by other club members between Sun Valley, Idaho, and Denver, Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay area, Seattle and Palm Springs, California, Tonsmeire said.
Because of federal rules, Mountain Aviation operates as an on-demand air carrier and is not allowed to publish schedules, Tonsmeire said. But through the proprietary club calendar, members are able to sign up and share rides, which can help them save money, he said.
Initial demand was “significantly better than we anticipated” over the holiday season, after Mountain Aviation started offering club flights Dec. 15, Tonsmeire said. If the business venture goes well, the company’s goal is to expand the model – potentially in Colorado, he said.
Air Club membership works similar to golf club membership models, said Juli Miller, a Sun Valley Air Club spokeswoman. It costs $20,000 for an individual to join, $4,500 for annual dues, and there’s a per-flight fee, Miller said. As a sample price, a flight from Sun Valley to Palm Springs on a 7-passenger plane would cost $5,000, Miller said.
“You get to fly in style and you fly when you want to fly,” Miller said of the club. “It’s exciting that we’re doing it with Mountain Aviation. They’re very comfortable flying in and out of mountain terrain, and their safety record is flawless.”
Mountain Aviation has added a Learjet 60 to its fleet and has dedicated a Piaggio Avanti II aircraft to the club flights, with both planes based at a flight terminal in Sun Valley, according to a press release. The Learjet 60 is owned by the principal of the Sun Valley Air Club, Tonsmeire said.
Mountain Aviation flies and maintains a fleet of 19 planes for charter customers. The Sun Valley Air Club will handle sales and marketing for the new partnership. Mountain Aviation has 110 employees based in Colorado and Idaho and operates domestically and internationally.