Terror threat: Private jet inquiries rise

Terror threat: Private jet inquiries rise

By STEVE ADAMS and JON CHESTO
The Patriot Ledger

At least two private jet service companies in the region reported an increase in customer interest yesterday following the news that authorities in England had foiled a terrorist plot that had targeted U.S.-bound commercial flights.

Phone reservations and traffic on Quincy-based Jets International’s Web page, Jets.com, rose by nearly 400 percent yesterday, CEO Nate McKelvey said.

The company, which brokers about 250 private jet flights a month, received a spike in bookings from private airports in Teterboro, N.J., and Westchester, N.Y., which serve the New York metropolitan area. ‘‘A lot of people are stuck in airports and looking to travel one-way,’’ McKelvey said.

Traffic also was up for flights within Europe, with increased demand for private jet service in London to avoid delays at Heathrow International, McKelvey said.

For now, private jet charters have ample capacity to serve the increased demand, he said.

‘‘There’s a huge undercapacity in the charter fleet,’’ he said.

The gain was not as pronounced at Private Business Jets, a private jet service firm in Hingham. But the company did see ‘‘a little bit of a spike’’ yesterday, said Greg Goodwin, Private Business Jets’ vice president of marketing.

Goodwin said an actual terrorist attack would have likely fueled a much bigger increase in interest. But he still expects a continued surge in inquiries during the next few weeks.

‘‘Anything that the public perceives as a safety threat on commercial airlines will always drive anybody who is on the fence about using private jets to at least look into us,’’ Goodwin said. ‘‘Over the next few weeks, this is just one more thing that people think about (when preparing to fly).’’

The Patriot Ledger
Transmitted Friday, August 11, 2006