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Business Plan

Small Hingham aviation firm sees big growth

Don Smith, co-partner of Fly Private, a private aviation firm based in Hingham, says his business has grown significantly since its launch in 2002.Jamie Cotten for The Boston Globe

Hingham-based Fly Private is a small private aviation firm that owns no aircraft but has access to 2,000 around the world. The company was started by Don Smith, chief operating officer, and Greg Goodwin, vice president of marketing, both having previously worked for another private aviation firm before starting their own in 2002. We spoke to Smith, a Scituate resident, for this story.

Q. What makes Fly Private different from other firms like yours?

A. We don’t have acquisition fees or monthly maintenance fees, and we don’t ask for money up front. You pay only for what you use, by the trip, so you’re not tied up with long-term contracts or commitments. We’re not wrapped up in hype; we don’t spend a fortune on advertising. We’re not that well known, and that’s fine; we like to think we’re the best-kept secret in private aviation.


Q. Where do your clients fly?

A. All over the world, including a lot to the Caribbean. We had one family that started a trip in San Francisco, went through China, around Europe and back through the United States. We do trips for people going to college football games, the World Series, the Super Bowl, golf tournaments. Whatever the clients wants to do, we can do.

Don Smith says Fly Private has access to 2,000 planes worldwide.James Cotten for The Boston Globe

Q. Do most of your clients fly for business or personal reasons?

A. It’s about equal. From a customer standpoint, there are probably more personal fliers, but the dollar volume is higher for business travelers. And there’s crossover; some flying on business combine trips for personal use.

Q. Has growth been good?

A. We saw huge growth from 2002 to 2008, and by 2008 had a three-year growth of 197 percent, which got us 25th on Inc.’s top 100 transportation companies list. Business went down in the recession, but then it came back and stayed. It’s grown steadily since.


Q. Do celebrities use your services?

A. Yes, and I won’t name them. For them, it’s just a way to get around, athletes flying home to be with their families, or flying the kids in to see games, things like that. Celebrity flying is Hollywood stuff that gets overblown. Ultra high-worth people aren’t looking for publicity; they just want a way to get to their events, and can get there privately. They’re just nice people; this isn’t a big deal for them.

Paul E. Kandarian can be reached at pkandarian@aol.com.