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      New charter airline service offers more travel flexibility

      New changes are taking off in the U.P. when it comes to charter flights.

      Initially, the charter service, UP North Airways, offered fairly regular flights to Lansing and other nearby locations, but after Monday, a new service now lets fliers take scheduling matters into their own hands.

      â??If there are four or five people going to the same meeting and it starts at noon, we'll get them there at 11:30,â?? explained pilot, Douglas Richardson. â??If it goes later, we'll stay later; if earlier, we leave earlier. Itâ??s truly a customer or passenger-focused service.â??

      While Lansing is generally the most common destination, the pilots say they'll fly anywhere. â??We can fly anywhere in the U.S. and Canada,â?? Richardson said. â??Weâ??re based in Iron Mountain, but we can position or fly empty to any airport, pick up the passengers, and take them to any other airport.â??

      In Iron Mountain, the on-demand service started Monday, and at Sawyer International Airport, the changes are expected to start once the demand rises.

      â??I think they really want to see how it goes in Iron Mountain, and part of the talking about it here is to start to get the word out,â?? explained Director of Operations, Steven Schenden.

      Another important part of the service is a web-based scheduling program. Anyone can look online to see when charter flights are leaving, and if they decide to hop on, filling that seat means lowering the prices.

      â??In order for us to fly to Lansing, we need to have three passengers going down and three coming back. If we get more, up to nine, we're going to share the cost of that for everybody,â?? Richardson said.

      Both airports say they predict a success and are glad to offer flexibility to their customers.

      â??Itâ??s a great idea; I think people are going to be happy with the prices they can get to Lansing and back in a day,â?? Schenden said.