A charter service company is now flying from Lakeland Linder International Airport. While the focus is on trips to the Bahamas and throughout the Southeastern U.S., Tryp Air Charter’s owner says you can fly to just about anywhere. But it isn’t cheap.

Elliot Mintzer is gung ho about his new Lakeland air charter location. “This is a strong opportunity,” he said.

One Tryp Air Charter plane is based at Linder. It’s a luxurious TurboProp Pilatus PC12 that seats nine passengers and flies at 300 mph.

But that plane isn’t the only one available to the company and its passengers.

Mintzer, who is also a Tryp Air pilot, said the company has access to smaller planes and can accomodate groups smaller than nine, even just one or two.

A page on the company website shows typical “tryps” and prices from Lakeland to destinations in the Bahamas and around the Southeast. Examples:

  •  A one-way trip on the Pilatus to Freeport/Bimini is $4,100, $6,100 for a weekend trip.
  • It’s $5,405 for a one-way trip to Nassau, $7,405 for the weekend.
  • It’s $6,193 for a trip to Mobile, Ala., $3,665 to Fort Lauderdale, $4,100 to Key West and $3,230 to Naples.
  • A trip to Tallahassee is $4,100.
  • And if you hate the stress of driving on Interstate 4, a flight to Orlando is $2,505.

That might seem pricey but when those amounts are divided by nine people they are much more reasonable, said Gene Conrad, Lakeland airport director.

Conrad said he was unaware of Tryp Air Charter until recently when reporters called asking him about it. That’s because Tryp Air has leased space directly from Sheltair, a fixed-base operation at the airport.

A couple of years ago the airport hosted a charter service that mainly flew trips to Key West. Conrad said people liked the service and still ask about it, but it operated for just a summer.

Another charter jet service, Sky King Airlines, ceased operating in Lakeland in 2014.

Conrad said he looks forward to meeting Mintzer. That will happen soon because Mintzer is moving from St. Augustine to Plant City in two weeks. His wife’s family lives there.

Mintzer is the former owner of Indiana-based Boomerang Air Charter.

The Plant City allure and the fact that other airports in the region already have charter services led him to Lakeland, Mintzer said.

Pilatus PC-12 interior

Mintzer said another big factor brought him here. He said Lakeland’s airport has a U,S. Customs base and flights from outside the country don’t have to land elsewhere first for a Customs check.

The move comes at a time that Travel Weekly reports that private travel is taking an increasing share of the luxury market as people seek safer ways to reach destinations during the pandemic.

Mintzer said he highly recommends that anyone looking for a charter flight do so on an FAA Part 135 aircraft, which is subject to a high level of compliance.

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