Charter offers alternative
By MATTHEW KENWRIGHT
Until commercial flight service is restored at Hays Regional Airport, Hays Aircraft LLC is air travelers' ticket out of Hays.
The charter service offers private flights to many destinations, said Randall Buchanan, a charter pilot with Hays Aircraft. The planes can hold five to seven passengers, but baggage weight is a limitation.
Great Lakes Airlines' early departure from the terminal has affected the company.
"We're still operating the same as we always have," he said. "We've maybe actually increased business a little bit because people can't fly out on the airline, so they're using us."
Many of the company's travelers do business through Hays Medical Center, Fort Hays State University and the oil industry. Professionals often use the company to fly to remote locations because the planes can land at smaller airports. Customers also use the planes to attend sporting events
Buchanan said chartering allows a customized travel plan for customers.
"We have the convenience of we operate on their schedule, so if they want to leave at 9 o'clock, then we leave at 9 o'clock," he said. "If something comes up ... and they can't leave until 10, then we just wait until 10 o'clock to take off."
A flight to Kansas City could cost a flat rate of approximately $2,000 for all the passengers, he said. Other fees can apply if the plane has to sit overnight.
In addition to flights, Hays Aircraft also offers fuel service, aircraft maintenance and flying lessons. Its relationship with SkyWest Airlines will be finalized later, and discussions have suggested the carrier will begin service in Hays in August, he said.
Christopher Springer, Hays Aircraft general manager, said he does not expect his company to directly compete with SkyWest.
Springer said Buchanan is leaving the company soon, and the charter service is seeking a pilot to replace him.