Flagship Air looks to take off from Ann Arbor Airport

Tim Patton didn’t start out wanting to create a local airline but that's just what the veteran entrepreneur ended up doing with Flagship Private Air.

"It really started as a personal passion," Patton says.

The chairman and CEO of Patton Holdings (based out of Domino's Farms) bought a private plane a few years ago for his health-care company. He often needed to go to small, out-of-the-way places like Hershey, Pennsylvania, for business, places that were prohibitively expensive to fly commercially out of Detroit's Metro Airport.

He wasn't alone. Plenty of local business people found flying either too expensive or too time inefficient using major airlines. And then the CFL went off over Patton's head.

"There is no one else doing this here in Ann Arbor," Patton says. "Why not make a business out of this?"

Flagship Private Air is set to take off in early December. It has a handful of turbo-prop planes ready to fly from the Ann Arbor Airport to 47 locations throughout the continental U.S., but mainly focused on the Midwest.

The chartered planes can carry private parties within 250 miles. Prices are usually kept under $1,000 per person with a minimum of two people. The company can also cater the flights food from Zingerman's as well as set up hotel or rental car reservations. And Patton plans to expand his business to summer resorts in northern cities, like Traverse City or Mackinac Island.

The idea of hiring out a small plane for a few people at a reasonable price makes it worthwhile to local business people, especially those concerned with time efficiency. For instance, customers don't have to drive far, go through extensive security checks or fly at the whim of notoriously late airlines.

The planes can be rented out on a per trip basis or customers can buy blocks of time at a discount. Flagship even allows clients to become fractional owners in a plane. Think of it like a private-plane timeshare.

Patton has high hopes for Flagship Private Air as Ann Arbor's new economy business sector grows in both size and prominence.

Source: Tim Patton, chairman and CEO of Patton Holdings
Writer: Jon Zemke
Signup for Email Alerts