Dutch start-up Bikkair is planning to launch Europe's first air taxi operation next month from its base at Rotterdam Airport. The arrival of the new operator'a second and third Cessna Citation Mustang very light jets is imminent, and up to seven more aircraft will be delivered throughout the year.
Bikkair plans to operate 20 VLJs by 2009 and up 100 in 2012 from its 15 planned bases. "By this time, air-taxi services based on VLJs will be a well accepted mode of transport for business professionals throughout Europe," it says.
Bikkair founder Leendert Bikker estimates that more than 80% of the customers who will use its service "will not have flown on a private jet before".
He adds: "Air taxi is the intelligent alternative for business travellers. It is an entirely new mode of transport that complements travel by car, high-speed train, and traditional business-class travel on commercial airlines."
Flying by VLJ will allows travellers to fly distances of between 400km to 2,000km to 1,200 airports in Europe that are not serviced by the commercial airlines, he says.
To simplify its air-taxi offering, Bikkair has created the Amulet Programme, in which customers can buy 15, 40 or 100 hours of flying time. Pricing will be about half that of existing regular private jet programmes, says Bikker, who hopes to gain one-quarter of the European market for air-taxi transport.