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January 12, 2023

Oxford-based Tradewind Aviation debuts 20 new planes to bolster charter offerings

PHOTO | LIESE KLEIN Tradewind Aviation founders David and Eric Zipkin (center) and Sen. Richard Blumenthal cut the ribbon on the company's new fleet of aircraft Jan. 12, 2023.

As dignitaries clambered over one of his new plane’s deluxe padded seats, the CEO of Oxford-based Tradewind Aviation spoke of the potential of the company’s new fleet of PC-12 NGX advanced single-engine turboprop aircraft.

“I’d like to welcome you to a momentous milestone in Tradewind’s history,” said Eric Zipkin, co-founder and CEO, gesturing at the gleaming aircraft on display. “Today, we’re launching a bold and exciting new chapter in Tradewind’s growth.” 

Zipkin and dozens of local officials and employees gathered at Hangar D at Waterbury-Oxford Airport on Thursday to celebrate the arrival of the first planes of Tradewind’s PC-12 NGX order, which cost $6 million each. The company has purchased 20 of the planes to add to its current fleet of 23 aircraft, Zipkin said. 

The new planes will allow Tradewind to double its flights and revenue, Zipkin said. More fuel-efficient and with a longer range, the Swiss-made planes will allow the company to expand its private charter offerings beyond the tri-state area and south as far as the Caribbean.

One of Tradewind Aviation's new PC-12 NGX advanced single-engine turboprop aircraft, which cost $6 million each.

Made by Pilatus, a Swiss company with a U.S. subsidiary in Colorado, the new planes are also engineered to use alternative fuels when they become available, Zipkin said. 

Tradewind’s new planes will add to the economic impact of Waterbury-Oxford Airport, Greater Valley Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Bill Purcell said. 

Opened in 1969, Waterbury-Oxford is the top airport in Connecticut for general aviation, employing 1,200 people and generating $240 million a year in economic output. “This airport is an engine for economic growth in this region of our state,” Purcell said. 

Charter services take off 

Zipkin and his brother David founded Tradewind in Oxford in 2001 with one pilot and a single plane. The company has grown steadily thanks to an emphasis on customer service and quality, Zipkin said. 

“When we started Tradewind it was in the dark days following September 11, and we really never could have imagined where we would come,” Eric Zipkin said. “It’s really quite a journey that we’ve shared.”

Tradewind Aviation CEO Eric Zipkin speaks at the ribbon-cutting for the company's new fleet of planes.

Privately held, the company now employs 220 people, with plans to expand further as the new fleet of planes is deployed, Zipkin said. Many customers are corporate executives, with the company’s charters flying regularly to New York, Boston and vacation spots like Nantucket. 

The rise of remote work has actually expanded Tradewind’s customer base, Zipkin said, due the fact that many C-suite executives now live far from corporate HQs.

“Remote work has allowed many people to relocate to an area that’s farther afield,” Zipkin said. 

Executives are also increasingly looking to charter planes as commercial airlines struggle with capacity and system glitches like the recent scheduling snafus at Southwest Airlines.

“Southwest is our marketing department,” Zipkin said with a smile. 

Contact Liese Klein at

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