Magnum Jet adds Phenoms to A700s as it builds taxi fleet

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By Chris Kjelgaard in new York

Start-up orders new Embraer jets to go with Adam family in bid to shake up US travel

Planned US air-taxi operator Magnum Jet says it will run three types of light and very light jets.

Houston-based Magnum Jet had previously ordered 50 Adam A700s very light jets (VLJ), with 50 options. It was confirmed as Embraer's first US fleet customer for the Phenom family when it announced an order for 50 Phenom 100s, with 50 options, on 5 September at the New York stock exchange. It also displayed a full-size mock-up of the Phenom 300 outside the exchange.

Like Jetbird, the Phenom 100's first European fleet customer, Magnum Jet can specify either the Phenom 100 or the larger Phenom 300 when firming delivery positions. The Phenom 300 is listed at $6.65 million in January 2005 dollars compared with the Phenom 100's $2.85 million. Magnum Jet's 50 firm aircraft are among the "over 235" Phenoms that Embraer says were ordered by 30 June.

Magnum Jet chief executive Jim Burns says his company will definitely order Phenom 300s. The operator will receive its first Phenom 100 in early 2009 and Burns says it may take its first Phenom 300 in early 2010. He is reticent about the delivery schedule for Magnum Jet's Adam A700 order, but expects to receive the first aircraft in "early 2007".

Magnum Jet's website details a plan to sell the aircraft on order to third parties and manage them for the owners. It also aims to operate aircraft on its own "air limousine" services, with owners receiving a revenue share. However, Burns says Magnum Jet will also finance aircraft in other ways. Its core investors include Proctor NBF Capital Partners, a partnership involving National Bank of Canada subsidiary National Bank Financial.

Burns believes Magnum Jet will succeed because domestic air travel in the USA is becoming "increasingly slow and inconvenient". The need to connect to smaller destinations through hubs, and the time spent in waiting at large airports, has reduced the average door-to-door speed of intra-regional airline travel in the US to 48kt (90km/h), he says. Burns believes air-taxi operators can increase this to 175kt by offering point-to-point service to 5,500 US airports instead of the 350 currently served.

Initially Magnum Jet will offer "single-trip demand" flights in south-west USA - particularly Texas, where "there is a tremendous need for regional solutions". Services on the East Coast and the southern West Coast will follow.

Magnum Jet aims to expand to the midwest and Pacific northwest. It intends to base three to five aircraft at each sizeable city it serves, so further aircraft will be needed.