January 7, 2019
Latitude 33 Aviation, headquartered in Carlsbad, California, is adding a pair of Citation Latitudes to its fleet on the back of successfully inducting a Challenger 350 and a Challenger 605 at the tail end of last year. The CL350, which entered service in the fourth quarter of 2018, is based at John Wayne airport in Orange County, and is, the operator says, the only charter-ready aircraft of its kind to be situated there, offering good access to Los Angeles area and southern Californian clients.
“It's an absolutely beautiful aircraft," states director of marketing and business development Michael Giesbrecht. "There are obviously a lot of aircraft available for charter in the LA area, but that’s the only Challenger 350 based at that airport, reducing costs for the end client and saving time.
“At least half a dozen commercial airlines use John Wayne airport, and there is a lot of private aviation that goes in and out of there as well. It’s a very busy airport primarily with domestic traffic, while LAX handles the bulk of the international traffic."
Latitude 33 manages a fleet of 33 aircraft, 17 of which are available for charter, and has relationships with aircraft owners that span a number of years. “Both owners of the Citation Latitudes have been long-time clients of ours who upgraded from their previous jets to a more spacious, comfortable and capable model,” explains Giesbrecht. “Our recent Challenger 605 addition was for a frequent charter client who made the transition to aircraft ownership.”
The CL350 owner had a Citation XLS for a while, before his travel needs outgrew what that aircraft could deliver. “We assisted him with acquiring the Challenger 350, which has a longer range and more spacious cabin, as well as listing and selling the Citation XLS. So we were serving the needs of this particular aircraft owner who needed to carry more people over longer distances in more comfort.”
The majority of aircraft owners whose jets are managed by Latitude 33 prefer to charter out their aircraft for a moderate amount of time, usually between 10 and 35 hours a month. "This makes the aircraft available for their own use while still offsetting their expenses with significant charter revenue," Giesbrecht explains. "Other owners fit elsewhere on the bell curve, and may only want one or two charter flights a month, while others will be looking for upward of 50 hours of charter.
“Over the last few years we have managed the newest and largest fleet of light jets in the entire US, and most of them are southern California-based. Up until about the middle of last year, we were primarily focused on routes up to Canada, down to Mexico, and within the western two-thirds of the US such as Las Vegas, Aspen, Jackson Hole and Los Cabos.
“Given that we now have seven mid and super midsize aircraft on our charter fleet, we now have the ability to fly coast-to-coast non-stop, so we are seeing a lot more demand for that. New York and Florida destinations have been frequently requested, and we are experiencing a lot of demand to fly to Hawaii and various locations in Europe. Atlantic and Pacific overwater charter operations are on our roadmap for 2019, along with adding charter capabilities for aircraft carrying 10 or more passengers."
The company has a large fleet of light jets, including 18 Cessna Citations (M2, CJ1+, CJ2+, CJ3, CJ3+ and CJ4 models) and seven Embraer Phenom 300s. Its mid, super midsize and large aircraft roster now includes Citation Sovereign, Sovereign+, Latitude, Challenger 300, 350 and 605 models. "We recently brought on a Challenger 300 based out of Hawthorne airport, Los Angeles, which makes for a time-saving alternative to LAX," says Giesbrecht.
Although the number and size of Latitude 33's aircraft have grown, the light jets still play a very important role. "Our primary goal is to provide the best possible service to our aircraft owners, and extend out from there to our charter clients. We find with our aircraft owners that they might have a starter aircraft, such as an M2, they upgrade to the popular Phenom 300 and then they are looking for a Challenger. We do see heavy jets on the horizon too; it is all about following demand. But rather than replacing our core capability as a premier light jet operator, we are building on it to offer a large range of private travel options.
“We are also the only ARGUS Platinum rated operator in the San Diego area, which is a unique value proposition," he concludes.