As the hub of companies operating in the Albertan resource sector, Calgary has become a modern day “port” connecting workers and executives with their companies projects littered throughout the North.

“I booked a trip for a customer from Calgary to Grand Prairie to Peace River to Lloydminster to Estevan, back to Grand Prairie back to Calgary – all in one day,” says Richard Pollock – international business development manager for Discovery Air. “You’re not going to do that on a commercial airline.”

Pollock calls the growth in the market “unsurprising.”  

Booking trips

“For a dynamic oil and gas related company, moving two or three people out of each of those location becomes a bit of a milk run,” says Pollock. “It would cost them either days of travel or tens of thousands on commercial flights.”

“I booked a trip for a customer from Calgary to Grand Prairie to Peace River to Lloydminster to Estevan, back to Grand Prairie back to Calgary – all in one day.”

Which, he adds, are non-existent in many remote areas.

“It’s not a fun in the sun sort of market – it’s definitely a business tool,” he adds. Ian Darnley, director of business development for Sunwest Aviation, says the options are diverse.

“People would be surprised to know that in Calgary there are something in the order of 100 commercial aircraft available for charter (not including light private aircraft),” says Darnley. “This easily exceeds the number of airline aircraft based in Calgary.”

Pollock says companies flying over 100 hours might find chartered flights a valuable tool.

Safer travel

“On a per seat basis, there is a premium compared to commercial airlines,” says Pollock adding that it’s also a safer way to get workers to and from projects.

“It keeps these people from driving into the ditch in the middle of the night after a long workday,” he adds.
Some chartered airlines offer fractional ownership (a time-share of sorts where several individuals can share a plane) but the most common is workforce charter by the hour or day.

“We also manage aircraft within our fleet on behalf of corporations and individuals who own aircraft,” says Darnley. “And we provide expert advice on the sale and acquisition of business aircraft.”

Darcy Morgan, Vice President of Enerjet, says a common misconception is that chartered airlines are more expensive than commercial.

“If a chartered aircraft is 75% or more full, it can often be cheaper than a scheduled flight,” says Morgan. “Plus, you get to leave and return when you want to.”