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Arizona Stagecoach adds wedding services to offset slump in TIA shuttle runs

Arizona Stagecoach adds weddings, proms to offset dip in airport shuttle runs

To fight a drop in airport service, Arizona Stagecoach has turned to shuttling wedding parties and guests.

To fight a drop in airport service, Arizona Stagecoach has turned to shuttling wedding parties and guests.

Declining air travel in the economic downturn has prompted Arizona Stagecoach to add wedding transportation to its lineup.

Brides and grooms have yet to ride the vans with the “Galloping Horse” logo. But wedding guests are finding vans a better way to conserve cash than rental cars, Chief Executive Fred Gould said.

“They are finding a more cost-effective way to get around,” Gould said.

The locally owned company, which has shuttled some 2 million people to and from Tucson International Airport since 1978, got into the wedding business in March, and Gould is eager to build the nonairport side of the business.

Gould said, “4 to 5 percent of our revenue in March was point-to-point,” adding that it includes weddings and charter service. “In terms of dollars, that could mean having a loss month or a profitable month. My target is 10 percent. When the economy comes back, my business is in position for serious growth.”

A year ago, Arizona Stagecoach focused almost entirely on shuttling about 85,000 people a year to TIA, and anybody wanting to charter vans had to approach the company. Now, Arizona Stagecoach is marketing its wedding, prom and special event transportation division, Gould said.

So far, the company has worked three or four weddings, transporting wedding parties from hotels to churches or churches to reception sites. Gould said wedding parties typically ask for two or three vans that carry 10 people each.

Arizona Stagecoach operates 19 vans. Five are company-owned and 14 are owned by their operators through licenses with Arizona Stagecoach.

Gould said four of the five company vans run on compressed natural gas, and any company growth will involve adding more alternative fuel vehicles, likely using compressed natural gas.

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