Ultimate JetCharters has been around since 1984 and is an Ohio aviation company offering supreme air travel service to honored and valued clients across the United States.
It was established by John Gordon who is still president today, and very passionate about the company. When Covid-19 hit, the company was one of many to be affected. However, there is a silver lining, according to Senior Vice President Rick Pawlak, who spoke to Compulsive about their coping strategies throughout the pandemic, and optimistic plans for the future.
Pawlak confirmed that on March 16, Ultimate idled all of its services, and experienced a 98% revenue drop within days. He explained that 30% of staff had been furloughed but would hopefully return soon. He said the company was in fact, hoping to grow their staff by 2021.
“In April, the country shut down for the first time in history, putting businesses in the downward spiral. We were not immune to it,” he said. “By being fast in making decisions we were able to secure our revenue as much as possible. In June we started charter flights again, flying medical companies to different states for mass health services. This opened another segment for us. To this day we are flying more companies than our previous customer base.”
This is not the first time Ultimate JetCharters has pulled through an economic avalanche. During the financial crisis of 2009, with four of their largest clients being banks at the time, they lost business within 48 hours and had to reinvent themselves. It was then that Ultimate Air Shuttle, the public charter division was born.
“The public charter market wasn’t very popular back then. We partnered with some companies in Cincinnati, Ohio to make it the success it is today,” said Pawlak. Now the company is looking to introduce a third division, a terminal to terminal service.
“When people think of aviation, they think of just pilots. There are so many more skilled professionals, like mechanics, sales and marketing, accountants, customer service agents and others making this a diverse skilled labor market,” said Pawlak.
He said while the company has not recovered profits yet, they should be 75% back to normal by this fall. This success depends largely on collegiate sports.
“We specialize in flying men’s and women’s basketball and volleyball teams to games and conferences. A few conferences have cancelled, but we’re hoping that winter sports will be a hundred percent go.” In keeping with regulations to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus, the company has replaced the furniture at its facilities in Cincinnati and Cleveland, using stand-alone seating and high top tables instead of couches, and vinyl flooring (much easier to clean) has replaced the carpets.
Passengers have a fast and efficient check-in, involving a health assessment which includes taking their temperature, and answering a set of questions, after which they are given a disposable boarding pass. The aircraft is already sanitized, and the middle row is blocked off to allow social distancing. Masks are required to be worn during flights by the flight team and passengers. Luggage is also distanced by six-foot stickers on the floor.
According to Pawlak, the customers are loving the changes and feel happy and safe with the regulations in place. He is optimistic that when the economy starts firing up again, they will be in a good position to recapture business. Looking forward, Pawlak says the company wants to restart quickly but wisely.
He anticipates a full return to schedule by summer 2021. The company is now in its peak season, which usually lasts from September to March for the on-demand charter. The planned third division will mean larger aircraft added to fleet, seating up to 50 passengers. It will also allow more destinations, larger groups, and larger sports teams.
Characteristic of its transparent and flexible work ethos, work from home was encouraged for employees of Ultimate JetCharters, during the pandemic.
The maintenance team, according to Pawlak, is another one of its unique assets, consisting of twelve very skilled people, which is a big advantage for an aviation company, being able to use its own team to resolve problems quickly.
“We are a great family of employees, and our mission for best service shines through,” said Pawlak who celebrated his ten-year anniversary at Ultimate JetCharters in April 2020. If you are not familiar with Ultimate Air Shuttle, visit ultimateairshuttle.com, to learn more about the public air charter.
-To learn more about their on-demand charter services go to ultimatejetcharters.com