NYTimes.com
Identified Flying Objects Over Phoenix
Sunday January 27, 2008 11:38 pm ET
By JOE SHARKEY

PHOENIX — IT may be too late now, but if you moved quickly the other day you could have booked a three-night stay over Super Bowl weekend at the Ramada Limited Airport North in Phoenix for a cool $2,382.78.

You read that right. A Ramada wants $2,382.78 for three nights during the Super Bowl.

The swankier hotels and resorts in the Phoenix area, of course, have been booked for months, or even years, for next Sunday’s game. But the astonishing room rates that even roadside properties are demanding say something about the three-day spectacle the Super Bowl has become. Whatever it is to most of the 70,000 or so fans who will be there, it’s corporate America’s Mardi Gras, no expense spared, to the businesses that cater to them.

Consider the private jets. The Arizona skies will be full of them next weekend, as corporations and well-heeled individuals head to Phoenix with clients or colleagues in tow.

As of Friday, about 400 private jets had already made arrangements to fly in. Private-jet schedulers say that this is the most ever, and that an epic traffic jam could ensue in the skies.

“We’re getting booked like crazy,” said Steven M. Hankin, the chief executive of Sentient Jets, a big private-jet charter company that is booking Super Bowl weekend luxury packages. “We’re seeing a significant increase in demand for flights to Phoenix, more than we have for previous Super Bowls,” and a 50 percent increase from the event last year. A mere $9,399 gets you a 50-yard-line ticket, four nights in a four-star hotel, transportation to the stadium and other perks (private jet not included).

NetJets, the largest operator of fractional-share jet ownership programs, has a worldwide fleet of more than 700 private jets of all sizes. “We are forecasting 300 flights in and out of Phoenix," at Sky Harbor and six area general-aviation airports, said Richard T. Santulli, the NetJets chief executive.

Luxury packagers and private-jet companies were ecstatic last weekend when the New York Giants and the New England Patriots emerged as the two Super Bowl contestants.

“The Giants in particular have a huge corporate fan base,” said Robert Tuchman, the founder of TSE Sports and Entertainment, a company in New York that arranges high-end corporate hospitality packages to events like the Super Bowl, the U. S. Open and the Kentucky Derby. “And 99 percent of our clients are corporations that are looking to entertain clients at these events.”

Many of those companies already have their own jets, although event planners will also arrange charters. Mr. Tuchman’s company has a basic $6,000 package that includes four nights at a four-star hotel, a game ticket, ground transportation and a spot in a celebrity golf tournament.

But hotels, golf tournaments, ground transportation, celebrity-studded parties and the like are easy enough to arrange in a major resort area. The biggest Super Bowl challenge, some organizers say, will be getting all those private jets in and out.

Nathan McKelvey is the chief executive of Jets.com, which has access to a fleet of 19 aircraft, mostly big ones like Gulfstream 4s. In general, he said, the cost for 10 hours of flying on a big private jet will run roughly $60,000, plus tax.

“The customers are mostly corporations entertaining clients,” he said.

In an interview last week, Marlene Purswell, senior vice president for operations at LegFind.com, a Jets.com online subsidiary that arranges jet trips, said Phoenix Sky Harbor International airport and several smaller airports in the area were still tabulating just how many flights to expect.

Two days before the conference championship games last Sunday, one of two major private terminals at Sky Harbor, Swift Aviation, had already logged requests for 490 arrivals and departures.

“And I’m sure there’s going to be a big spike in that number,” Ms. Purswell said.

TO prepare for the biggest traffic jam — Sunday night, when all those private jets try to depart at once — NetJets, Swift Aviation and several others are planning to set up reception centers and lounges to entertain private-jet passengers experiencing long waits. “We already know we’ll get a whole bunch of people arriving at once, and it will take some time to get those airplanes out,” she said.



Mail to Friend Email Story
Alerts Set News Alert
Printer
Version  Print Story 


Copyright © 2014 Yahoo! Inc. All rights reserved. Privacy Policy - Terms of Service
Copyright © 2014 NYTimes.com. All rights reserved.