AIRNET SYSTEMS, INC. An Aero Recip Customer



Shirley Render

ANYTIME. ANYWHERE. AIRNET

The slogan says it all. This is a company with air delivery expertise in financial, government, dangerous goods and life sciences services as well as offering private and business charter, aircraft maintenance, FBO and international courier services. AirNet operates approximately 100 aircraft, including 30 Learjets, located throughout the United States. AirNet’s pleased customers spare no praise when talking about its reliability. Wells Fargo, one of the largest banks in the United States, and Bowne of Atlanta, an affiliate of Bowne & Co., the world’s largest financial printing company, are but two very happy AirNet customers.

Aircraft maintenance is among AirNet’s most important core competencies. A staff of approximately 70 avionics technicians performs maintenance on AirNet’s fleet of aircraft in five locations throughout the United States. This contributes directly to maximum efficiency and minimum aircraft downtime for the fleet. AirNet’s maintenance center in Columbus, Ohio has received ISO 9001:2000 certification and holds a repair station certificate granted by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration.

Although AirNet handles much of its own maintenance, it must call upon others for engine overhauls. This is where Aero Recip steps in. Aero Recip handles all of AirNet’s T10-540 series engines. I wondered what made a company in Columbus, Ohio hook up with one in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Word of mouth, I was told. Aero Recip was recommended to AirNet by another operator. Apparently it is a good fi t. Chuck Paul, Vice President of Aircraft Maintenance says “We find Aero Recip’s engines to be very reliable and their services cost-effective.”

So, how did this company come to be? It was 1974 when founder Jerry Mercer started People Dedicated to Quality (PDQ) Air Service, Inc. in Pontiac, Michigan with $50 and a pilot’s license. The company initially began as an FBO and operated charter flights. A business man at heart, he next saw an opportunity of transporting cancelled cheques for banks. Over the next two decades, the company grew to become a leading time-critical airline throughout the United States.

AirNet’s vision is to be the air carrier of choice and the premier provider of specialized time definite solutions that meet the unique needs of its customers in markets where time, custody, and control are highly valued. Customers know they can schedule pick-ups as late as midnight and AirNet will provide next-day early morning deliveries. As the company grew, it made sense to move the primary hub and sort facility to Columbus, Ohio to take advantage of its geographic location. Approximately 50% of the U.S. population is within 500 miles of Columbus. With this move, the national footprint was put in place. With this move, the company also expanded beyond the transport of cancelled cheques to include other time-critical documents and small packages. In 1988 headquarters was relocated to Columbus Ohio.

Interestingly, Jerry Mercer had no wish to be in competition with FedEx or the other large carriers. His main goal was to provide the banks with a valued service – and he kept his early focus on this niche market and built AirNet’s reputation by providing speed, reliability and more flexibility than the larger air delivery services. For banks every extra hour they had to bundle cheques was important. Before AirNet they had to send cheques by courier to make a deadline. In an industry where a minute late is as bad as a day late, customer service, speed and dependability are everything. AirNet’s flexible, time-critical pickup and delivery schedules suited the banking world well. In the banking world, time is money. AirNet provides speed and reliability.

airnetOne of the keys to AirNet’s success is its operations schedules. Aircraft are positioned around a highly efficient and flexible national route structure designed to facilitate late pick-up and early delivery times, minimize delays and simplify flight scheduling. AirNet’s hub-and spoke system, with a primary hub in Columbus Ohio and mini hubs across the country, allows it to match the diverse load capacities of its aircraft with the shipment weight and volume of each destination city and to consolidate shipments at hubs.

Also, most of the hubs are located in less congested regional airports. Add this to AirNet’s off -peak departure and arrival times, means few if any delays in departures and arrivals and fast unloading, refueling and maintenance. What has evolved is a unique airline service that provides an important advantage to its customers. The next expansion moved the company into the medical fi eld, working with Mayo Clinic in Minneapolis transporting blood samples so that readings could be made overnight. AirNet has since expanded into the critical realm of life sciences services, transporting things such as organs, tissue, blood banking or cord blood banking. With these loads there is no margin for error, no time to spare and no second chance. AirNet is specifically equipped to expertly handle temperature controlled containers, on the ground and in the air and is proud of its record here.

AirNet holds various operational certificates issued by governmental agencies including grantee status to U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT)-7060 Special Permit and a Transport Canada Permit for Equivalent Level of Safety, which permit AirNet to transport higher volumes of time-critical radioactive pharmaceuticals than is allowed by the DOT and Transport Canada for most carriers.

AirNet also provides services on the backside of flying– maintenance, avionics, engine service, airframe and FBOs. With its new, state-of-the-art service facility at Columbus, Ohio, including 52,500 square feet of hangar space, AirNet can handle maintenance service and repairs. Through its FBOs, it can off er such services as customs processing, on site car rental, pilot lounge, weather/flight planning and de-icing. The company successfully completed a 78$ million initial public offering on May 30, 1996. As a public company, corporate governance is by a Board of Directors, who is nominated at the Annual Meeting of Shareholders. Founder Jerry Mercer remained CEO until April 2000 and Chairman of the Board until August 2001. The current Chairman, President and CEO is Bruce D. Parker. He has served on the Board of Directors since 2002. He is the Founder and President of IT Management Group, LLC, a specialty consulting group that advises and manages information technology organizations for corporations in Europe and the United States. Before that he was Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer at United Airlines.

AirNet does not coast along. It is always prepared to discuss potential routes, changes and pricing. It also realizes that it must adapt to the increased use of electronic services and seek ways to replace the delivery of cheques as the country moves towards electronic cheques. AirNet’s staff has expertise covering almost any question a customer might have and its many partnerships with major commercial airlines and surface transportation operators, ensures point-to-point service anywhere, coast to coast. AirNet operates an integrated national transportation network – a far cry from the $50 start-up in 1974. For more information please see www.airnet.com

 

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