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16 Jun, 2008 01:55

Business elite beat jams with flying taxis

Russian business leaders are turning to air taxis as a means of avoiding long train or car journeys. Last week, the government scrapped import duties on business aircraft, which is good news for the emerging air-taxi sector.

Dexter is the first Russian air-taxi firm. With a fleet of just seven jets, the company has the daring goal of becoming a national air-taxi chain within a couple of years.

The boss of the firm, Evgeny Andrachnikov, says his service will change how business people travel.

“We've made some kind of a revolution. We bought foreign aircraft, we registered them under the Russian flag, we paid VAT and custom duties and now people are able to use foreign aircraft, well-proven, very comfortable,” he said.
Demand for the service has fulfilled expectations, with aircraft operating 65 hours a month.

Dexter has ordered 25 PC-12 turboprops from Swiss aircraft producer Pilatus.

Dexter signed a $US 60 million deal this month with Cessna Aircraft for 20 Citation Mustang very light jets, with deliveries starting in 2011.

Other business jet operators agree that air taxis have a bright future in Russia.

Meantime, a lack of professional pilots and poor infrastructure remain a major problem.