With space to spare, Pittsburgh International draws corporate jet carrier
Pittsburgh International Airport’s status as a former hub facility with space to spare helped draw OneJet, a new corporate jet carrier seeking to gain a foothold inside Concourse D.
“That’s one of the reasons Pittsburgh is one of the top five cities we put in place early on,” said CEO Matthew Maguire. “We see a bigger vision for it beyond the user service.”
OneJet, catering to business travelers on seven-seat Hawker 400s, launched between Milwaukee and Indianapolis in April, and Pittsburgh this month. A fourth destination will be announced within two months. Down the road, OneJet plans to add crews and maintenance operations in Pittsburgh.
OneJet’s business model focuses on gate-to-gate travel between midsized cities, allowing direct flights to destinations that otherwise involve lengthy layovers. A trip to Indianapolis with a connection may take 4 1⁄2 hours, compared with the about 60-minute service on OneJet.
The service is a new type of product, aiming to fill a gap in air travel. The Boston-based company is the product of about two years of researching former hubs that lost direct service to other midsized destinations, Maguire said.
“We’re not in Pittsburgh by accident,” Maguire said. “You couldn’t put a 50-seat airplane into those sort of markets and have it work. But with a six- or seven-seat aircraft and some demand management software that we’ve put in place, that we can sustain.”
The company reports 75 percent booked flights during its first week.
Maguire said OneJet is backed by a New York-based investment bank. Advisers include Terry Jones, founder of Travelocity, and John Porcari, former U.S. Deputy Secretary of Transportation.
Maguire said Pittsburgh’s growing entrepreneurial scene meshes well with OneJet’s nascent plans.
The airport had been a hub for US Airways more than a decade ago.
Airport officials, eager to add direct service in response to passenger demand, see OneJet as a welcome addition despite its small size and niche market.
“We know they’re targeting businesses to make sure they can get nonstop (service),” said Vincent Gastgeb, vice president of government and community affairs for the Allegheny County Airport Authority. “It doesn’t necessarily have to be on a 200-seat plane.”
The airport aims to offer connections based on passenger demand, Gastgeb said. He said meetings between OneJet and local businesses such as Michael Baker Corp., PNC Bank and Bayer have focused on future destinations.
A round-trip ticket on OneJet from Pittsburgh to Indianapolis from June 1-3 costs $458 when booked three weeks in advance, according to Expedia.
Flights with connections cost in the $300 to $500 range. Travel times go from nearly four to 5 1⁄2 hours, about as long as it takes to drive the 360-mile distance.
Tom Donatelli, who oversees Western Pennsylvania construction operations for Michael Baker Corp., predicts his company will take full advantage of OneJet. The business has offices in Indianapolis and Madison, Wis., near Milwaukee, and took eight trips to each last year.
“That’s definitely going to increase,” he said. “It’s going to make it much more convenient.”
Melissa Daniels is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at [email protected] or 412-380-8511.