Eric Zipkin and David Zipkin
PRESIDENT AND VICE PRESIDENT, TRADEWIND AVIATION
In the months after 9/11, the airline industry almost collapsed from a reduction in demand, stiff regulation and bankruptcy. “The traditional airline experience degraded,” recalls Eric Zipkin, who as a pilot and former general manager of regional airline Westchester Air, saw the changes firsthand. But he knew there was a need for the comfort and security that a great flight experience provides. That led him and his brother, David, in late 2001 to found Tradewind Aviation, a regional carrier that offers a private jet-like experience with scheduled flights on eight-seat Pilatus PC-12s—fast, pressurized turboprop planes popular with private owners. At first the company focused on underserved routes in the Northeast like New York’s Westchester County to Nantucket, Mass.; today, it also serves Caribbean destinations such as St. Barths and Anguilla from a hub in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Tradewind, which operates all its flights and owns 12 of the 20 planes in its fleet, has grown by 40 percent year over year in the last decade, taking its total revenue from $250,000 in its first year to more than $25 million in 2015. The company has provided impetus to regional airports such as Vermont’s Morrisville-Stowe to improve their infrastructure, further increasing demand. “We have loyal clients,” David says. “Working in tandem with the airports, we’re delivering a high-quality service that has won their loyalty.”