Provincial Airlines adds world’s fastest civil aircraft

Daniel MacEachern
Published on August 15, 2013
Provincial Airlines added the Cessna Citation X to its fleet in May. It’s the world’s fastest civil aircraft.
— Photo by Dan MacEachern/The Telegram

Provincial Airlines hopes the newest addition to its fleet gives it a big advantage over its competitors.

In May, the St. John’s-based airline added a Cessna Citation X to its fleet, a US$23-million jet that is the fastest civil jet in the world, capable of flying up to eight passengers at speeds of more than 1,100 kilometres an hour.

“This thing’s a rocket,” said Stephen Dinn, vice-president of corporate development, on Monday. He said since the introduction of the plane it’s been out on several flights — not just for business customers who want to take advantage of the speed, but also, in one case, for transporting an organ requested by another province for transplant. The range of the plane (5,600

kilometres) is a factor, too — clients can fly to Calgary in just over

4 1/2 hours non-stop.

“So you’re doing Calgary in a business day,” said Dinn, who added the real time advantages in chartering a jet result in the lack of stopovers and other time spent waiting in airports.

“You don’t have to stop in Toronto or anywhere else to get a connector. International destinations, that’s a huge component. You can get to Aberdeen in four hours. What’s the alternative for Aberdeen? St. John’s to Heathrow, eight months of the year. Wait around, you’ve got to be at the airport an hour and a half or two hours in advance. You’ve got to go through the security lineup once you do that.”

Dinn won’t say just how much it costs to charter the jet, beyond the ballpark of tens of thousands of dollars — rates vary by client depending on agreements reached with the airline, on a per-mile basis. But the response from the airline’s customers has shown there’s a ready market for it in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Its schedule for the next week includes trips today, Sunday, Monday and next Tuesday.

“The pace of business in this province has accelerated dramatically in recent years, and there’s a core group of people and/or companies who have been discussing and wanting the idea of having a personalized charter service to meet all their travel requirements,” he said. “These people are very busy. Sometimes they go on a moment’s notice, and any time in an airport lineup is lost time.”

The swiveling chairs enabling meetings in the cabin — and a satellite phone — allow productivity at 51,000 feet in the air, making it appealing for business customers too, said Dinn. “This is an office in the sky. You can’t have a private business discussion on a commercial air carrier. You don’t know who’s sitting behind you or sitting next to you,” he said.