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Flying High

New Yorker Craig Siegel moved to Boca Raton two years ago to have a Florida base for the private air travel company BlueStarJets he started with his college buddies, Richard Sitomer and Todd Rome. Business for the 4-year-old company, Siegel says, is soaring.

"Our revenues are up 350% year-over-year since we started," says Siegel, who says south Florida ranks third in private aviation behind New York and Los Angeles.

BlueStar's Florida business has quadrupled since the company's inception, Siegel says.

Who's Flying? Clients include entertainment and sports figures, executives and wealthy families. BlueStar will be flying Sting around when he launches his U.S. tour.

An Edge: BlueStar has an innovative fee structure. In contrast to fractional companies, which offer timeshare on an aircraft, BlueStar customers buy flight hours and avoid the acquisition, maintenance and monthly fees associated with fractional ownership. The company also offers a "debit card" for flight hours called the SkyCard. Frequent fliers can purchase from $50,000 to $1 million worth of flight hours, on which BlueStar pays 6% interest.


Frequent Flier
DARYLE SCOTT
President, founder / Venus Swimwear
JacksonvilleScott's Top Pick: a pilot himself, Scott bought time on fractional company Avantair, which has maintenance facilities and a sales office at the St. Petersburg/Clearwater International Airport. Scott likes the type of plane Avantair flies, the Piaggio Avanti.The Jet: The Piaggio Avanti is fast, has a relatively large cabin and is quieter because the props are in the back of the plane.Flight Hours Logged? "At our company somebody is going somewhere every 10 days. We own about 100 hours of flight time."

Scouring the Net for Deals
Massachusetts-based CharterAuction.com, which shops private reservation requests for the cheapest fares on its internet auction site, is popular with Florida's upscale frequent fliers. "Florida is our most popular destination," says company founder Nathan McKelvey.

How It Works: Fliers must join CharterAuction's membership program and set up an escrow account.

A User: Florida resident and CEO of New York-based KM Enterprises, Kevin Messina likes the fact that although private air travel is expensive, he can get the best pricing deal possible with CharterAuction.

Savings: "CEOs make hundreds of dollars an hour," says Messina. "To take me out of pocket for four to five hours a day for business travel is not an effective use of my time."


Fly-In Community
The Ocean Reef Club in Key Largo is one of the largest fly-in communities in Florida. The more than 200 member-resident aviation community has a private 4,500-foot runway and a busy Flying Club for recreational fliers.

A Resident: Chicago attorney and Ocean Reef homeowner Tom Flanagan flies in regularly, ferrying his wife and one or more of his six kids to the club for R&R, summer fun or holiday celebrations. "The capability to fly in and fly out was very important when I was looking to buy," says Flanagan. He pilots his own Cessna CJ-II, which he purchased three years ago for $5 million. Flight time from work to play: Three hours.


Filet Mignon to Go
Charles and Linda Dekranis of Sarasota cater to a lofty clientele, wining and dining air travelers on private jets. The couple cater any kind of meal a flier could want.

A Niche: The Dekranises used to own the Foodies Center Market on Longboat Key but think they've found their niche in catering to private air travelers. They do all the shopping, cooking, packing and delivering of the meals to the aircraft. They work with several charter companies from Venice to St. Petersburg/Clearwater, most notably Dolphin Aviation at Sarasota Airport.