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Nature Air is a small, sustainable Costa Rican airline with five Twin Otters plying the Central American skies, connecting difficult-to-reach regions of natural beauty in Costa Rica to the capital San José. The first carbon-neutral airline in the world, Nature Air offsets its carbon emissions by financing reforestation projects in the country. It also serves coffee sourced from small plantations and employs a different artist to paint each of its aircraft.

The airline has its own flight school, and its 20 pilots are all Costa Rican except for one, a German expat. On these short flights, most from 20 to 40 minutes in length, there’s no inflight service. There is a bilingual inflight magazine, Landings, but most passengers prefer to look out the window. Alex Khajavi, founder and CEO, bought the existing Travel Air in 2001 and turned it into Nature Air. He’s an investment banker turned eco-tourism consultant, a shrewd businessman with a conscience. “We open those areas closest to the national parks where previously there were no roads,” says Khajavi. “If you look at our yields, we beat everybody. The challenge is deciding how much money we can spend to bring the world along with us, and be a catalyst.”

Nature Air also has two international routes so far, to Managua, Nicaragua and Bocas del Toro, Panama. “People look at us not so much as a transport airline, which we are of course,” says Khajavi. “But the gift we give is that awe, that service, that fun, with big windows and a path of flight that gets you a little closer to the volcano.”
natureair.com

Nature Air facts

Home base: San José, Costa Rica’s Pavas Intl Airport (a smaller airport close to city)

Fleet: Five De Havilland Twin Otters, one Beechcraft King Air E90

Seating: 19 seats per aircraft

Number of pilots: 20 (19 Costa Rican, 1 German)

Total number of staff: 150

Destinations: 15 (13 within Costa Rica, 2 international)

Number of passengers per year: 110,000 (2010)

Newest destination: Managua, Nicaragua

In-flight magazine: Landings

Frequent Flyer programme: “Premium Pass”

On-time rate: Rainy season 94 per cent, dry season 96 per cent

Major selling point: En-route sightseeing potential, thanks to huge Vistaliner windows and a cruise altitude of 11,000 feet

Most unusual passenger: A dolphin – in a bathtub

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