Charter flight operator Mountain Lion Aviation prepares new service at Fort Worth Alliance Airport
California charter airline Mountain Lion Aviation is offering service on its small planes at the Fort Worth Alliance Airport, hoping to take advantage of growing business links between Texas and the rest of the country.
Mountain Lion Aviation provides service from Fort Worth to area cities such as Houston, Austin, San Antonio, and Oklahoma City. It operates three types of planes carrying four to seven passengers and can travel pretty much anywhere in the continental United States for those willing to pay the price of charter service.
“There has been a migratory shift from the coasts to the Heartland,” said Jim Wilkinson, founder of Mountain Lion and a former senior communications official in the George W. Bush administration, which chose to put its energy into aviation.
Mountain Lion hopes to take advantage of the increased interest in pseudo-private air services after people have largely avoided air travel over the past 14 months. Private air taxi service operations were up about 25% in February at Dallas Love Field and 12% at DFW International Airport from a year earlier.
Larger operators such as JSX have added more destinations from Texas, particularly to outdoor destinations such as the Gulf Coast and Mexico.
This trend will likely continue with more business executives choosing to work remotely and travel to large business centers only when they need face-to-face meetings.
Mountain Lion is one of a group of “Part 135” air service operators that sits somewhere between scheduled airlines and private jet companies. They may offer non-scheduled service between destinations, often flying on smaller jets that carry between four and 30 passengers.
Most recently, these Part 135 operators are aimed at travelers who want to avoid congestion at commercial airlines and major airports.
The private charter service is priced, starting at around $ 1,800 an hour, and is not meant to be a competitive service with commercial airlines, Wilkinson said.
Until now, Mountain Lion has operated primarily in California, particularly near its headquarters near Lake Tahoe. But now it’s taking to Texas, hoping to capture business travelers who want quick service to other major area cities or weekend getaways to places like Colorado or Florida.
In California, Mountain Lion primarily takes guests to vacation homes near Tahoe. In Texas, the company is located in a major population center to be close to homes with the intention of transporting people on business trips or to vacation destinations.
“We can take you to Big Bend for a hike and get you home before dinner,” said Wilkinson, who lives north of Fort Worth. “It’s a place a lot of Texans haven’t even been to because it takes so long.”