Home Profiles Airco Aircraft Charters Turns 30

Airco Aircraft Charters Turns 30

Wherever you need to go, Airco gets you there faster in comfort, convenience and style

Ed Schlemko standing next to the Beechcraft 1900D.

You need to travel by air. Do you cringe at the mad dash to the airport followed by paid parking in a distant lot? How about long lines at the self-check in and even longer lines at the baggage drop? Or cramped seats with noisy chair mates that leave you arriving at your destination tired and disgruntled?

There is a better way to fly, and today you can learn why individuals, corporations, celebrities, families, politicians and tour groups are taking advantage of how Airco Aircraft Charters gets them safely and calmly to their destination with plenty of time to chat or work comfortably on the plane.

In addition to charter flights, Airco is a Transport Canada approved maintenance organization (AMO #225-92) with a dedicated group of licensed engineers and extensive experience in working on private, corporate and commercial aircraft. Airco also provides professional aircraft management for the maintenance, tracking, crew hiring and scheduling, training, hangar storage and insurance requirements of other private aircraft.

“I’ve always had a passion for aviation,” says Ed Schlemko, a pilot and one of Airco’s founders. He helped launch the company in 1987 after realizing there were no local aviation companies providing the level of service needed in the Edmonton area.

“Things were quite different from what we have today,” he laughs. “We started with a single engine float plane and did aircraft recovery and repair.” Now, Airco has a high-tech fleet for business charters, direct flights, access to remote areas, cargo, sightseeing tours and hot shot service.

“Airco is the largest Edmonton-based charter,” says Schlemko. “The other charters are headquartered out of the city or province.”

“In 1991, we had a big turning point when we bought our first Piper Navajo Chieftain” says Mary Anne Stanway, managing director. “With that, we went from a small single engine operating company to the charter we are today.”

“After we bought our first Navajo, we increased the fleet with several more. We could see the market was moving towards turbines,” Schlemko adds. “In 1995, we bought our first pressurized turbine airplane, the Beechcraft King Air, which is larger, faster, flies higher and carries a larger payload than the Navajo.” In 1998, Airco was pleased to purchase their first hangar at the City Centre Airport, and in 2004, they expanded the fleet again with their first 19-seater, the Beechcraft 1900D.

However in 2013 things would change for Airco. Edmonton City Council decided to close the Edmonton City Centre Airport completely on November 30 of that year, so the company needed a new home.

Now, Airco operates out of a new facility at the Edmonton International Airport. This location includes a stylish passenger lounge, large, bright hangar and plenty of parking surrounding the building. No detail is overlooked. Clean washrooms, a well-stocked refreshment area, comfortable seating, and boarding the aircraft is as simple as walking out the lobby door.

“It’s that personalised service,” says Stanway with pride. “There is so much flexibility. You pick when you want to depart. On the flight, communication with your team or family is easy. The seats are comfortable, and there are snacks and a bar.”

Airco enjoys getting business people quickly to their destinations, and business clients greatly enjoy the efficient service with very little downtime, and the fact that they can easily work on the airplane.

For emergencies, such as flying a part to an oilfield camp or quickly transporting personnel, Airco can (under ideal conditions) be airborne within 90 minutes of getting the call.

Airco is also a huge boon for remote areas. Fort Chipewyan, for example, is just one location where access is primarily by barge or, in the winter, by an ice road. For many places in Canada like this, flight is the best, and often the safest, option. “There are probably a dozen airports that have scheduled service in Alberta, but there are still over 100 communities without any scheduled services,” Schlemko points out.

With a 30-year reputation to fly on, an expertly managed company, and top-of-the-line aircraft that has flown some very famous characters (confidentiality is assured, so don’t ask whom!) Airco now turns its focus to educating companies on the value of chartering fights.

“Charter provides you with the best service if you are a group of people trying to be efficient,” says Stanway. Instead of waiting for flights, you just show up. You do not need to be here two hours in advance like you would for a commercial flight. You can work or hold meetings on the plane, or relax and let your busy day wash away as Canada’s magnificent landscape unfolds beneath you.”

“For someone who hasn’t chartered before, they will find it’s more convenient and cost effective than they think,” says Schlemko. “A lot of customers are paying employees by the hour or by the day. You waste money sitting on the road driving, or in terminal buildings, or sitting in hotel rooms waiting on scheduled flights. For example, High Level is a nine hour drive! How much is your time worth?”

“The feedback we get from our clients is that they like Airco’s reliability,” adds Stanway. “They can depend on us. If we say we can do a flight, they know they are going to get to where they need to go. We are straightforward and honest.”

Airco thanks their loyal clients for making them their trusted charter company for 30 years. Many have flown with Airco since the early 1990s. The company also thanks their staff, expressing pride and appreciation for each team member’s hard work and dedication.

“Our future involves growing the fleet,” concludes Schlemko. “We will have larger aircraft, but the same commitment to service, all while being agile to the changing needs of our customer base and industry. We are happy here in Edmonton. This is where our roots are.”

Roots in Edmonton and planes in the sky – the next time you need to get to where you have to be, consider a charter flight. It’s the affordable, convenient, safe, efficient and reliable transportation solution you may be overlooking.