Inside The New Company Leveraging Tech For Private Jet Travel
Over the last couple of years, the concept of aerial ridesharing, aided by the tech back-end of the obligatory mobile app, has been a pre-occupation of several startups. The goal has consistently been to slightly re-imagine private air travel to widen reach to the elite. There have been many attempts in the market as the trend continues to build, but clearly no strongholds just yet. From Jetsmarter to Fly by Airthereum and several others, most have yet to reach the wheels up level much less remain in the skies. However, a new startup out of New York City is now about to try do what those before it could not and actually make aerial ridesharing 3.0 a reality.
Enter Airspace, a company that intends to fill the gap between charter aircraft, jet cards and first-class commercial travel. And the company seems quite intent on ensuring success. Indeed, it just tapped 20+ year aerospace veteran, Robert Molsbergen, previously COO at Warren Buffet’s private aircraft management company, NetJets, as its first CEO. Airspace is targeting those who want to avoid the hassles of TSA and more at airports for plush comfort.
Here’s how it works. The company offers a tiered pricing model that starts at $2000 per month, plus seat cost. Airspace says that it has already sold out of this discounted price for the first 25 enrollments. The next level begins at a cost of $2600 per month, plus seat cost. Members will find themselves on only Gulfstream 650s or an equivalent that is less than five-years-old. For those who might not be aware, these are the largest aircrafts in the industry before moving to commercial jet status.
Perhaps one of the most intriguing offerings from Airspace is that the company is using various algorithms to match 12 travelers together for each flight so that the best possible experience is offered. Such data compiled will include interests, gender, location and more. The company is banking on the fact that artificial intelligence can better leverage signals that people may miss, such as sentiment in communication. The offering will consider your past behavior, prior preferences, your in-app activity and more to offer only the most relevant matches. The company says that the algorithms will become smarter over time.
Molsbergen says that Airspace will also take what he says is a smarter approach than previous contenders in the space by only adding inventory as membership grows. "Through our extensive research, contacts in the industry and development of our program, we feel we bring to market the finest shared aviation experience today," he explains. "The initial feedback we've received is that consumers are more than ready for an exclusive, high-end shared aviation solution that offers a true private jet experience in a more accessible way."
In fact, the privately funded company launches at a time when more than 900 million passengers who flew out of a U.S. airport say that the experience of flying has never been worse between the security hassles and flight delays. This is addition to the fact that some Millennials are hopping on the micro-cation trend (shorter but a bit more frequent breaks from work) could create ideal conditions for Airspace.
New York to Ft. Lauderdale routes will kick off in just a few weeks with more to come afterward. Naturally all member activity will be conducted via the Airspace mobile app which include the ability to schedule one’s flight, check in and participate in a closed network for members, among other elements.
Airspace may face challenges of winning trust of new customers given the previous attempts in the industry which have consistently promised more than they could deliver. There will also be the question of profitability, particularly with such a select few members. But if they can skillfully combine a solid business strategy with that of an AI-powered heightened experience, then we may just see a new level of the sharing economy that makes the grade.