NICHOLAS AIR owns and operates a fleet of 24 aircraft, including the Embraer Phenom 300.
Nicholas Correnti has no qualms about keeping his company boutique. For the founder, CEO, and financier of the private aviation provider NICHOLAS AIR, remaining small enough to maintain close relationships with members is a part of the company’s business model and, ultimately, a compelling value proposition for the consumer.
“Beyond our safety and service reputation, it is the boutique element to our business that has helped us get to where we are,” says Correnti, who founded NICHOLAS AIR in 1997 as an aircraft management and leasing provider, focused on Southeast US operations. Today, the company has a couple dozen aircraft—from Pilatus PC-12 turboprops to Challenger 300 super-midsize jets—with a new 15,000-square-foot headquarters in Oxford, Mississippi (near Ole Miss). While providing membership-based private air travel—with options for jet cards, leasing, and fractional ownership—to a national clientele, NICHOLAS AIR has expanded its service area across the United States, as well as to Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean. Unlike most boutique providers, NICHOLAS AIR owns and operates its fleet, whereas many of its smaller competitors are mere brokers of aircraft owned and operated by other companies. And unlike many of its larger competitors, NICHOLAS AIR is owned outright by Correnti, instead of being heavily leveraged by banks or hedge funds.
“We’re not owned by private-equity or venture-capital firms that are going to spend a hundred million dollars, go buy 10 or 12 airplanes, and hope that the customers follow,” says Peder von Harten, the company’s VP of sales and marketing. “We’re on a very rigid finance plan when it comes to these aircraft. What that translates to is really responsible growth over a period of time. We’re pretty maniacal about the quality of the aircraft. Being that these are not brokered airplanes, you have to be a NICHOLAS AIR member in order to access our fleet, so our aircraft are not flown 1,500, 1,600, 1,700 hours a year.”
Von Harten also recognizes that, because of the company’s size—smaller than NetJets but bigger than mom-and-pop brokers—NICHOLAS AIR is not likely a customer’s first stop in private aviation. “But when they get here, they don’t leave,” he says. “More than 98 percent of our customers renew from year to year.”
This responsible-growth business plan and high customer retention results in the company’s ability to reinvest to the benefit of its members.
“Because of our structure of being privately owned with no outside investors, we are able to take the feedback from our clients, make informed decisions, and show them how their feedback gets directly applied to our business,” says Correnti. “The world is changing and our close personal relationships with each customer have allowed us to mold our program to involve whatever matters to them the most.” nicholasair.com