Doohan it in style

By GARY SMART

FORMER world motorcycle champion Mick Doohan is on the threshold of another success story, right on the doorstep to the Tweed.

Doohan, world 500cc champion five times between 1989 and 1999, is developing a fleet of charter jets using Coolangatta airport as a base.

There are six Citation jets in the fleet valued at more than $23 million. Doohan owns two of the jets, including a Citation VII valued at about $10 million.

Doohan's company and the owners of the other four jets believe they have identified a niche market with massive financial potential.

"I am excited about getting an operation up and running that hasn't really existed on a professional basis in Australia before," Doohan said this week. "This type of business is commonplace in Europe and I think it can be equally successful in Australia."

Doohan became familiar with charter jets during his career on the international motorcycle racing circuit.

Based in Monaco he would regularly jet to the next grand prix, as did many of his rivals.

He found he enjoyed the flying, and after retiring from riding in 1999 became a qualified aircraft and helicopter pilot. He owns his own chopper and uses it to commute from Coolangatta airport to his luxury property at Coomera on a regular basis.

"Aviation is something I enjoy," he said.

"It's a hobby as well as a business. When you enjoy something you normally do it better."

Doohan said he and his business partners found their planes were spending a fair amount of time on the ground so reckoned it would be more profitable to charter them out than have them sitting idle.

"The plan is to consolidate what we've started with a view to growing it in the future."

Doohan ? who would not fly the charter jets ? and his partners believe the fledgling industry has huge potential especially with wealthy clients such as business people and politicians.

In the wake of the September 11 World Trade Centre attacks in 2001, increased security has meant lengthy delays at airports around the world these days.

Private jets offer a quicker, more efficient way for people to move from city to city and through airports ? if you can afford to pay.



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