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AirTaxiFlights.com Interview: Air Taxi Association President Joe Leader

By Elliot Borin, Air TaxiFlights.com Staff Writer - © 2009, Reproduction without permission strictly prohibited. All company and product names in this document are the property of their respective copyright and/or trademark holders.

Joe Leader, Air Taxi Association PresidentTalk about an unusual career path. Joe Leader started studying the Very Light Jet revolution for his doctoral thesis and wound up founding and becoming president of the industry’s first trade group, the Atlanta-based Air Taxi Association.

Ask him how that happened and he’ll tell you it was a simple matter of finding a need and filling it.

“Doing the research for my PhD on VLJs required assessing the needs of the next-generation air taxi companies. One thing I found was a common desire for something that would combine all elements of the industry into a unified business force. Company after company said ‘this is exactly what we need, we have to forge forward together.’ ”

With the initial support of DayJet, EarthJet, Imagine Air, JetBird, Jumpjet, LinearAir, SATSair, and Taxijet, Joe and his associates formed the ATXA “to meet the global needs of next-generation air taxi providers in key business initiatives and standards … and create synergies to more rapidly propel growth, profitability, and change.”We caught up with Joe in July, shortly after he returned to Atlanta from delivering the keynote address at the 2007 Very Light Jet-Europe Conference in Vienna.

AirTaxiFlights.com: How was Vienna? What’s the reaction to the VLJ revolution in countries where regional trips can already be made at up to 250 miles per hour without leaving the ground?

Joe Leader: Fantastic. A year ago I would have told you that they’re significantly behind us, but that’s no longer true. The focus that’s going to be placed on Europe is just incredible. Everywhere you turn — Spain, the UK, Switzerland, Iceland, Turkey — you find a provider for that region.

The other thing that’s very refreshing is that the operators aren’t taking a cookie-cutter approach to the business, they’re each selecting a unique business model, value proposition and pricing profile that they think will work best in their market. In that sense, it’s very much like what U.S. operators are doing.

AirTaxiFlights.com: Speaking of U.S. operators, virtually all of them seem to have already jumped on the ATXA bandwagon. What are they hoping to get out of the Association?

Joe Leader: Our first and most important role is to facilitate the development of common goals and standards for the next-generation air-taxi industry.

AirTaxiFlights.com: Can you give us an example of that?

Joe Leader: Probably the best example is the Air Taxi Connect-IT System that’s been designed by our Advisory Board.
Basically, Connect-IT is a set of open-source protocols that will allow our member companies’ computer systems to easily talk to one another regardless of differences in the operators’ software platforms. As the industry continues to grow, Connect-IT will allow operators to utilize any reservation system, any common reservation broker, any direct web service.

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