Charter Flight Programs help your projects run more efficiently.
Gemstone Logistics was founded 10 years ago, primarily to develop and manage large-scale fly in, fly out (FIFO) charter programs for remote industrial projects. Today, we are largely focused on providing software solutions to help projects run more efficiently, but running charter flight programs is still an important part of what we do.
When any big project is green-lit, you can bet that one of the first things to be considered by management is where to get the skilled workforce necessary to make it a success.
For most major resource-based projects in Canada, this often means tapping into the country-wide labor pool to take advantage of distinct pockets of skilled workers. For example, one of our Alberta-based projects sourced nearly all of their bus drivers from Newfoundland, and another staffs a large proportion of their carpenters from one town in British Columbia.
Over the last decade, Gemstone Logistics has safely organized and overseen more than two million passenger journeys from 18 different charter hubs across Canada.
When it comes to moving high volume work forces large distances to and from work, we know it usually comes down to a choice between charter flights (where the project owner pays for the whole plane) or commercial flights (where seats are sold individually by the airline).
In our experience, a charter program with a minimum of 65% utilization is more cost effective in the long run compared to buying the equivalent number of seats with a commercial carrier, or giving employees a travel allowance.
Here are five reasons why setting up a charter flight program is more attractive than relying solely on commercial flights:
1 - Location
Do domestic carriers like Air Canada and Westjet have scheduled flights that would arrive close to your project location? If not, you will need to make ground transportation arrangements for the workers, which adds to the cost and logistics.
On the other hand, charter flights can land at private airstrips (Fixed Based Operations, or FBOs) which provide more flexibility and convenience than having to use a commercial airport when it comes to security processes, turnaround times, boarding processes etc.
2 - Capacity
Using a charter carrier gives you the flexibility of being able to change the gauge (aircraft size) to suit your project’s needs. Contrast this with a regular scheduled service from a commercial carrier — are there even enough seats on those planes to satisfy your project’s needs?
Your project workers will be competing with residents, commuters and potentially other project workers in trying to buy a finite number of seats.
3 - Pricing
Charter flights are set at a largely fixed price, no matter if there is one or 100 passengers on board the flight. The price is not 100% fixed as there may be fluctuations in the fuel price or a need for de-icing. With a dynamic approach to pricing, most commercial airlines increase prices as the time to departure gets closer.
Also remember that travel agency fees and luggage charges are usually added extras, so try not to make your analysis too granular by only comparing the cost of one charter seat with one commercial seat on a similar route.
4 - Productivity
Commercial schedules might not suit the labour needs of your project — for example, if a flight gets in at 4 pm and is followed by a one-hour bus journey, there is little productive time left in the working day.
Using charter flights, the project owner has full control of when the workers arrive on site and when they go home, making for a seamless handover at a time that suits the project.
5 - Certainty
How often have you arrived at the airport only to find your flight has been cancelled? This is an unpleasant scenario at the best of times, but even more so if it means workers can’t get to site because of a cancellation. In this case, there could be serious consequences for both the worker and the project, and commercial airlines won’t be held responsible for the knock-on impacts of a cancellation.
On the other hand, the charter carrier is responsible for getting passengers to their destination as quickly as possible following a disruption to the original flight, even if it involves using trains, planes or automobiles.
Looking for more information about setting up a charter flight program for your remote project?
Contact us today — we’d be glad to help.