Charter flight operator Mountain Lion Aviation plots new service at Fort Worth Alliance Airport
California charter airline Mountain Lion Aviation brings its small planes to Fort Worth Alliance Airport in hopes of capitalizing on the growing business relationship between Texas and the rest of the country.
Mountain Lion Aviation offers flights from Fort Worth to cities in the area such as Houston, Austin, San Antonio and Oklahoma City. It operates three types of aircraft with four to seven passengers and can travel virtually anywhere in the continental US if you’re willing to pay the price of the charter service.
“There has been a shift in migration from the coast to the heartland,” said Jim Wilkinson, founder of Mountain Lion and former senior communications officer for the George W. Bush administration who chose to devote his energies to aviation.
Mountain Lion hopes to capitalize on increased interest in pseudo-private air services after people largely avoided air travel for the past 14 months. Private air taxi service rose 25% at Dallas Love Field and 12% at DFW International Airport in February year-over-year.
Bigger operators like JSX have added more Texas destinations, particularly outdoor destinations like the Gulf Coast and Mexico.
This trend is likely to continue as more executives choose to work remotely and only commute to large business centers when they need face-to-face meetings.
Mountain Lion is one of a group of “Part 135” flight operators that are positioned between regular airlines and private jet companies. They can offer unscheduled connections between destinations and often fly with smaller jets that carry between four and 30 passengers.
Recently, these Part 135 operators have been serving travelers who want to avoid the congestion of commercial airlines and major airports.
The private charter service has a price that starts at around $ 1,800 an hour and isn’t meant to be a competitive service for commercial airlines, according to Wilkinson.
To date, Mountain Lion has mainly operated out of California, specifically near its headquarters near Lake Tahoe. But now Texas is taking it on, hoping to attract business travelers who want quick service to the other major cities in the area or weekend getaways to places like Colorado or Florida.
In California, Mountain Lion primarily brings customers to vacation homes near Tahoe. In Texas, the company is located in a large population center near homes for people flying on business trips or vacation destinations.
“We can fly you to Big Bend for a hike and take you home before dinner,” said Wilkinson, who lives north of Fort Worth. “This is a place many Texans have never been to because it takes so long.”