A relatively new company offering private charter flights throughout Ontario and parts of Quebec is officially off the ground.
Shaire launched its service in Sault Ste. Marie this week, with the intention of addressing what co-founder Rick Biemann describes as an existing gap in the market locally.
“It’s a slightly different business model,” said Biemann. “You’re moving lower volumes of people that are very concerned about their time, very concerned about their flexibility, looking for luxury, comfort.”
The company has been in business for more than a year now, obtaining a number of regulatory approvals through Transport Canada and Canadian Transportation Authority prior to the official launch.
Shaire has acquired a Cessna 414A Chancellor that will serve as the luxury aircraft that will travel within a 400-mile nautical radius (approximately 740 kilometres) to centres across Ontario and into Montreal and Quebec City, with plans to expand its routes to the United States in the future.
“It’s a proven, cost-effective piece of equipment,” said Biemann. “The aircraft operates at a lower cost per mile than a lot of competing luxury aircraft, but it still provides executive seating and all the comfort that you need for regional travel.”
The private charter service runs routes and sells individual seats as opposed to booking the whole plane, which Biemann says differentiates its business model from others. The entire aircraft can be booked as well, but Biemann says the unused seats on any flight can be sold through Shaire in order to receive credit.
“If you want to sell off those seats or share your ride, we’ll put those two empty seats up on the website and allow people to book for them,” he said.
Biemann says the investment from the group of six people who founded and funded the company is “substantial.” Between the aircraft costs and personnel hires, the investment from the group “far exceeds” $1 million.
Shaire Inc. has been hiring people for maintenance, operations, pilots, first officers, ground personnel, dispatch and administration. The company currently employs 10 people, but could expand its workforce to 15 or 20 staff members in the coming months.
“These are all good net, new jobs for the Algoma region,” Biemann said.
Stakeholders remain cautiously optimistic that they will get a favourable response from the Sault Ste. Marie market.
“We think it might take people a little while to get to the concept, but we’ve had a lot of really positive interest recently. We’ve had some clients already on board, and we’re cautiously optimistic that we’ll be in a good position,” Biemann said.
More information can be found on the Shaire website.