There’s a strong tailwind behind Silver State Helicopters’ drive to launch an air taxi service from Williams Gateway Airport in Mesa.
Jim Ravens, manager of the flight school’s Arizona operations, said he plans to begin using a six-seat copter to shuttle people to and from the airport sometime around Jan. 15 and is already setting up a tollfree reservation number and call center at the firm’s Las Vegas corporate headquarters.
He expects 15-minute flights between Williams Gateway and Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport to be his service’s bread and butter, hoping they can blossom into a network of copter flights connecting all the Valley’s airports, similar to one in the Los Angeles area.
"I’ve had people say they’re surprised nobody’s done this before, that it’s long overdue," Ravens said.
He said prices will probably be set next week but wants to keep the cost of a one-way trip to Sky Harbor below $100, probably around $85. "If I can, I’ll get it down even lower than that," he said.
He also expects to offer flights to any other major Valley destination that has enough room to set up a landing pad, such as the new Arizona Cardinals stadium in Glendale.
Williams Gateway, located near Power and Williams Field roads, recently signed its first operating agreement for regular passenger service with Vision Air, a Las Vegas-based charter airline affiliated with Silver State Helicopters. Flights to the North Las Vegas Airport are expected to begin next year.
Williams Gateway marketing manager John Barry said he isn’t worried that making it easier for people to get to Sky Harbor will discourage them from flying out of Williams. "We aren’t going to be able to meet everyone’s needs all at once," he said.