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VOL. 130 | NO. 122 | Wednesday, June 24, 2015

OneJet Lands in Memphis, Thanks in Part to FedEx

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Mid-South business travelers now have an easy, efficient way to reach several large Midwestern markets.

OneJet pilots John Craft, left, and David Johnson flew the airline’s inaugural Memphis-to-Indianapolis route on Monday, June 22.

(Submitted Photo)

OneJet, a startup airline catering to business travelers, launched its inaugural Memphis to Indianapolis flight on Monday, June 22.

The airline’s arrival is the latest example of the Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority’s strategy of methodically filling gaps in service created by Delta Air Lines’ drastic reductions in service with a mix of traditional legacy carriers, low-cost airlines and alternative services.

For instance, OneJet’s Indianapolis service is partially offsetting Delta’s elimination earlier this year of a 50-seat flight from Memphis International Airport to Indianapolis. OneJet will operate the flight with a nine-seat or seven-seat Beechcraft Hawker 400 jet.

Memphis appeared on OneJet’s radar after officials at Memphis-based FedEx Corp., which operates a large hub in Indianapolis, and the airport approached the airline last year.

“It’s a very innovative and unique business model and one that presents a great option for business travelers, especially for us at FedEx, who as you know we have another large hub like this one in Indianapolis,” said Richard Smith, vice president of global trade services with FedEx.

In addition to Memphis and Indianapolis, OneJet also services Pittsburgh and Milwaukee. Matthew Maguire, chief executive of Boston-based OneJet, did not elaborate on potential future growth at Memphis International, but said he sees a bright future for the partnership. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported in a June 16 story that the airline was in discussions with officials there about starting a direct service to Memphis.

“Our plan is to start with Indianapolis but I will tell you we have big plans for Memphis as a market,” Maguire said.

He said the primary reason for starting service to Memphis was knowing local demand would be there, including looking back at the previous use of routes the company services now or hopes to service in the future.

“What really attracts us to Memphis is we looked back six, seven, eight years and when there was nonstop service to many of the markets we are looking at, we can see what the local demand was,” Maguire said.

Boston-based OneJet will operate the Indianapolis route Mondays through Thursdays, with flights in the morning and afternoon. The airline is clearly targeting business customers, offering timely service with a mix of efficiency and style.

OneJet is providing TSA PreCheck access, an expedited process that doesn’t require the removal of shoes, belts and laptops for inspection, for eligible customers. Onboard amenities include copies of The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and Financial Times and Evian water. The nine-seat jet that departed from Memphis Monday afternoon featured leather chairs and dark wood finishes.

“For many of our passengers, it’s the convenience and travel experience they might not have had very often in the past,” said John Craft, one of the two lead captains manning the flight. “I think the overall level of stress decreases quite a bit.”

Larry Jensen, president and CEO of Memphis-based Cushman & Wakefield/Commercial Advisors, said OneJet’s direct service will provide businesses with one thing they covet most: better time management.

“If you value your time, this type of service is invaluable,” said Jensen, who has a member of his firm using OneJet on Tuesday, June 23. “If you’re in a business meeting, it really creates another day in your work week so you’re not having to go through the various hubs around the country you’re not sure you’re going to be able to get out off.”

Airport Authority president and chief executive Scott Brockman refers to the airport’s approach as the “back to our future” model.

“OneJet fits really well into our model that we’re working on … which is looking back to where we (previously) had point-to-point, nonstop service but in a way that is more sustainable,” Brockman said.

Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr., speaking at a press conference touting OneJet’s arrival, said the best way to fill the void by Delta’s elimination of its Memphis connector hub is to attract as many carriers as possible.

“For those of us who travel a lot, it’s all about the mix,” Wharton said. “There will be choices.”

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