Corporate Air is adding two new ultralong-range Gulfstream aircraft to its fleet in the next few months to keep up with increasing demand it has seen since the November election, according to its business development coordinator.
Mike Vargo, vice president of sales and business development for Corporate Air, said the private aircraft charter and management company has added $100 million worth of aircraft in the last two to three years, and has seen an uptick an interest in its services in the last few months, a trend he attributes, in part, to a shift in attitude following the election of President Donald Trump.
"Interest and activity in private aviation has increased significantly since the election," he said. "Unfortunately, under the previous administration, private aircraft were demonized and mischaracterized grossly, and it was truly unfortunate because private aviation is about jobs, so when people were hiding from their aircraft and not using their aircraft and not buying more aircraft, it kills jobs."
The company currently employs 150, and will add about 10 new jobs with the addition of its new aircraft, Vargo said. Corporate Air, the largest tenant in the Allegheny County Airport in West Mifflin, also operates the county's only flight school, the Pittsburgh Flight Training Center. According to Vargo, while its enrollment for the flight school has been steady, it's working on attracting more students to meet a predicted pilot shortage in the aviation industry, just as the Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics has been trying to cultivate interest in aviation mechanics in the face of another potential industry shortage.
"We're trying to champion ourselves and let people know that it's an option for kids who maybe don't want to go to an institution of higher learning," Vargo said. "I think it's awareness; I don't think a lot of kids understand that this is an opportunity for them."
Corporate Air is looking toward even more expansion, Vargo said — it has existing hangar space at Pittsburgh International Airport and in Washington, D.C., and is looking to lease or purchase hangar space in New York, New Jersey and south Florida.
"Over the past month, we have not been able to keep up. We have not had enough aircraft to meet what has been requested," he said. "It's a good problem to have, but it's a problem nonetheless."