Air Transport World

The up-and-corner.

Acquisitions, agreements with two Major airlines and charters to Cuba have transformed Gulfstream into the little airline that can

Tom Cooper is a thoughtful gentleman who tells a good story. There's the tale of how he used to ferry Piper Cubs from Miami to Argentina as a young flier. This was a trip that usually took one week. Or the time that Cooper, a former Eastern Airlines captain, called Texas Air Corp. Chairman Frank Lorenzo to discuss the dispute between Eastern pilots and management in the early 1990s. Lorenzo told Cooper candidly that Eastern would continue to operate in the event of a walkout and to follow his own conscience. Cooper did so and flew throughout the strike until Eastern shut down in 1991.

But Cooper's best story is how he transformed an on-demand air taxi into the No. 11 US Regional in terms of passengers carried. In 1998, Gulfstream International Airlines posted a net profit of $2.9 million on revenues of $63.3 million. This year Gulfstream expects to generate revenues in excess of $84 million and board around 75,000 passengers a month.

"Our success today was not part of some grand plan," says Cooper mildly. "It was my full intent back then to have one aircraft certified for charter and fly it myself. Other than that I was going to retire."

Cooper didn't retire. Pretty soon there were nine Cessna 402s and during the late 1980s he found himself flying a desk in Miami. Fifteen-seat Beech 99s were added and in 1990 the carrier began scheduled service to six destinations in the Bahamas and between Miami and Cap Haitien, Haiti, a short-lived route due to the ongoing political instability there.

In September 1991 Gulfstream received additional route authority to operate between Miami and Freeport, Bahamas. …

Log in to your account to read this article – and millions more.