RAI Jets Hosts NATA General Aviation Advancing America Meeting at Kalamazoo Battle Creek International Airport

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RAI Jets, LLC, a part 135 operator headquartered at Kalamazoo Battle Creek International Airport (KAZO), hosted a General Aviation Advancing America meeting at their aircraft hangar for the National Air Transportation Association (NATA) on Sept. 14. The meeting was one in a series of events being held at various locations across the country to promote and advance the awareness of airports as runways for economic development, job recovery, and emergency response.

NATA at RAI Jets for General Aviation Advancing America meeting at KAZO on September 14th.

Ryan Waguespack from the National Air Transportation Association (NATA), addressed the crowd at Kalamazoo-based RAI Jets for the regional NATA General Aviation Advancing America meeting.

“We were glad to interact with educators, members of the business community, and local government to call attention to the importance of general aviation to the area,” said RAI Jets President Becky Bakeman.

RAI Jets, LLC, a part 135 operator headquartered at Kalamazoo Battle Creek International Airport (KAZO), hosted a General Aviation Advancing America meeting at their aircraft hangar for the National Air Transportation Association (NATA) on Sept. 14. The meeting was one in a series of events being held at various locations across the country to promote and advance the awareness of airports as runways for economic development, job recovery, and emergency response.

“We were glad to interact with educators, members of the business community, and local government to call attention to the importance of general aviation to the area, and also, how the pandemic has even brought opportunities for growth within certain market segments,” said RAI Jets President Becky Bakeman.

With masks, hand sanitizer and safe social distancing protocol in place, Ryan Waguespack, NATA Senior Vice President, facilitated the town hall meeting held in an informal Q&A style. The small, but impressive group of about twenty attendees included representatives from Kalamazoo Valley Community College, Western Michigan University, and K-RESA (Kalamazoo Regional Educational Service Agency), members of the Kalamazoo Airport Board, representatives from corporate aviation departments, and staffers from the office of Congressman Fred Upton of Michigan’s sixth district.

One topic of discussion was the impending reduction of flights out of KAZO by American Airlines which is expected to begin Oct. 7. Meanwhile. RAI Jets has seen the pace slowly pick up and has found that in many cases, companies are using general aviation more frequently.

Some of the company representatives at the meeting said their corporate jets, once reserved only for the highest tier employees, were now being used by employees that typically flew the commercial airlines. Management felt it was a safer option for all their employees.

The pandemic has also brought people to jet charter who were not using it before, like companies without in-house aviation departments. As airlines continue to cancel and condense their flight schedules, these companies have appreciated the convenience of scheduling on-demand flights through jet charter and the peace of mind that they are flying aboard a COVID-19 safe flight. Likewise, RAI Jets is seeing more wealthy, first-time leisure travelers try jet charter. These people could always afford the service, but they were not compelled to use it until the pandemic.

So when will commercial aviation rebound to its normal levels? Nobody can say. However, aircraft operators like RAI Jets have taken extraordinary measures to keep their passengers safe from the coronavirus, and jet charter remains a solid alternative to the commercial airlines.

About RAI Jets
RAI Jets LLC is a Kalamazoo, MI-based aviation specialist featuring aircraft management, jet charter and aircraft maintenance services. The family-owned company officially opened in 2009, preceded by more than two decades of generational experience in aviation. For individuals and businesses, the Part 135 operator offers customized, jet charter for business or leisure, as well as turnkey management and aircraft maintenance for jet owners. RAI Jets operates its own fleet of aircraft for charter and offers jet owners (personal and corporate) with the option to offset operating costs by adding their aircraft to RAI Jet’s FAA approved Part 135 Air Carrier Certificate. RAI Jets also offers aircraft acquisition service and hangar space. For more information visit FlyRAI.com or call (800) 247-2834.

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Karen Dix

Becky Bakeman
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