Air Transport World

A family affair: Charles Colgan gave his name--and family--to the airline he founded. (Profile).(Colgan Air)(Company Profile)

When the Colgans get together for family celebrations, it is easy to imagine the main topic of conversation: Colgan Air. Founder Charles (Chuck) Colgan, 76, remains active as chairman of the board even as he serves as a senator in the Virginia state legislature. Four of his eight adult children hold senior management positions at the airline. Seven grandchildren work part-time in the headquarters office some 35 mi. southwest of Washington, D.C., or on Martha's Vineyard, where Colgan Air operates seasonal service each summer. Still other family members collectively contribute their time and areas of expertise on an ad hoc basis.

Do they ever tire of all this togetherness? "People always ask, do you really get along?" says VP-Administration Mary Colgan Finnigan. "I say yes, we really do."

In many ways, Colgan Air is a throwback to the early days of the business when such carriers still were called commuter airlines and were family-controlled enterprises, often named by and for their founders, operating turboprop or even piston equipment. Today, of course, very few of the founding families still control their airlines and most of the turboprops have been replaced by regional jets. The majority of Regional lift is owned by or closely linked to Major airline partners. …

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